About the Director

Dr. MiguezDr. Mguez was appointed as the Director of the Health Behavior and Policy Initiative (HBPI) and as a Professor in the School of Integrated Health and Science (SISH) in 2011. Prior to joining FIU, Dr. Mguez was a faculty member and researcher at the University of Miami (Department of Psychiatry).

Dr. Mguez is a physician and medical immunologist with over 20 years of research experience with HIV infected individuals. In the last decade, her research has been focused on the etiology, consequences, development, and prevention of alcohol and tobacco use in PLWH. Her research portfolio includes several national and international grants. Currently, she is the Principal Investigator of an HIV/Alcohol research Center. Dr. Mguez has served on numerous review and advisory panels for the National Institute of Health. She is on the editorial board of some scientific journals in her field of research. She has over 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals including Lancet, Lancet of Infectious diseases, JID, and Platelets.

Research Interests
For several years, Dr. Mguez interests as a translational researcher included medical (e.g., risk factors for hospitalizations, dementia, respiratory infections) behavioral (e.g., smoking, alcohol use, high risk sexual behaviors) and immune issues (immune responses such as IgE, cytokine profiles, inflammatory responses, the effects of alcohol on thymus), plus development of patented laboratory tests.

Now, with the evolution of HIV into a chronic disease, her research reflects the new challenges that the clinicians and researchers have to address. Nowadays with the introduction of HAART, the excessive rates of smoking (40-80%) and hazardous alcohol use among PLWH (60%) are likely to seriously threaten the health advantages achieved with HAART. In this regards our group is documenting how both tobacco and alcohol are sustaining a deleterious inflammatory responses, increasing neuropsychological impairments and up-surging health costs.

Beyond drug abuse, and based in our prior studies our team is concerned with the expanding prescription of lipid lowering medications among both HIV positive and HIV negative populations. Therefore, some of our efforts are focused in documenting the deleterious effects of hypocholesterolemia over the central nervous and the immune systems. We are also exploring how such a deleterious lipid profile may impact addiction risks and compromise intervention efforts.

Current research efforts also reflect our concerns with gender and race disparities. Although widely attributed to social determinants, our work is focused on how biological factors can be playing an important, yet, overlooked role. Efforts are now concentrated on understanding the molecular and cellular changes induced by platelets, lipids and cytokine disruptions on health disparities. This work has laid a strong foundation to pursue further research in this area.

Over the years her work on neuroimmunology has been expanded to examine novel areas of research such as the thymus-CNS and platelet-CNS interactions. Innovative studies are currently being done on topics such as the role of brain-derived neurotropic factors (BDNF) in risk behavior decision-making.