The Accelerating Excellence In Translational Science (AXIS)Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science

Dr. Homero del Pino

Homero E. del Pino, Ph.D., understands the power of research to drive effective health interventions. He brings his past experience providing trainings and technical assistance for behavioral intervention programs for HIV/ AIDS prevention to his research on gay and Latino populations, always looking for how his findings might be used to develop interventions and contribute to the health of the community.

Dr. del Pino first became interested in the topic of alcohol abuse among Latino men while working with his mentor at UCLA. “I learned that family support makes a big difference in promoting sobriety in the Latino population. Latinos are more likely to carry heavy drinking into older age than any other ethnic group, though they have lower rates of alcohol dependence and abuse overall. Research has shown that for Latinos in particular, appealing to family for health interventions has proven to be effective,” explains Dr. del Pino, citing interventions targeted at increasing mammogram use, decreasing alcohol abuse among teenagers, promoting Hep C testing, and improving diabetes management.

After coming to CDU, Dr. del Pino followed up on this interest with the help of a Pilot Award by AXIS in 2012. He interviewed 30 gay Latino men about the impact of family support on their sobriety. Dr. del Pino notes that many gay Latinos face rejection from their families because of their sexual identity. “I wanted to look at how you bring strong family values and the protective effects of being part of a family while dealing with that rejection. I wanted to focus on strengths and resiliencies instead of just focusing on the problem.” The paper from this project will soon be submitted for a special issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

Dr. del Pino is currently working on a project funded by the Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR)/Center for Health Improvement for Minority Elderly (CHIME) and the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). In this project he will study midlife (ages 50-64) gay men who are Latino, white, and African American. “A lot of the focus on substance abuse is on interventions for younger people” explains Dr. del Pino, “almost nothing is available for older gay men.” Dr. del Pino is always thinking about how he could extrapolate what he learns from his research and build upon it to develop interventions. This is partly due to his work prior to coming to Charles Drew; at AIDS Project Los Angeles, Dr. del Pino performed multiple HIV prevention trainings for the CDC at the national level.

Dr. del Pino earned a Ph.D in philosophy from UCLA in 2006 with an emphasis on the philosophy of action. He currently serves as an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Charles Drew University, as well as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He also serves as the Co-Director of Innovations and Partnerships at CDU’s AXIS. In this role, he helps facilitate research collaborations within CDU, with community-based organizations, and with other universities. Dr. del Pino also co-directs the Community Engagement Core at CDU, which utilizes a novel, community-focused approach to help improve the quality of health among underserved communities.

Dr. del Pino believes mentorship is an important part of his work at CDU. Under his tutelage, medical students have undertaken projects and submitted manuscripts examining gender differences in alcoholism treatment and examining Hispanic Americans’ attitudes about physician assisted suicide.

Among his many community contributions, Dr. Del Pino is a member of the Gerontological Society of America, a consultant for the National Center for HIV Law and Policy, as well as a board member of Strength for the Journey, a retreat program for individuals with HIV. He also serves as a member of the Internal Review Board at CDU and as a reviewer for the Journal of American Geriatrics. In 2012 he was honored to be named a fellow for the NIH’s Summer Institute on Aging, as well as for its Summer Institute for Randomized Behavioral Clinical Trials.

Dr. del Pino, who did not originally train as a social scientist, gives a lot of credit to CDU for his success. He notes, “At Charles Drew I found a lot of support for my own research projects and my own career development.” He emphasizes the positive impact that support from senior researchers can have on the development of early investigators.