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I am a tenured Associate Professor with joint appointments in the at the
University of South Florida College of Public Health and the Morsani College of Medicine. I also maintain adjunct faculty status at my former institution, Baylor College of Medicine.
I have a demonstrated record of collaborative research, scholarly publication, teaching and advising, and participation in public health organizations and professional associations.
I have amassed a substantial and versatile proficiency in database development, data linkage, management, and analysis, program and systems evaluation, community engagement, and information dissemination.
I am a passionate public health professional committed to solving problems and creating conditions that enable people to lead healthy, productive lives.
Sucker of Life's Marrow
My history is derived from the cultural basket of Tampa's Cuban, Spanish, and Italian ancestry. As a third generation Tampeño, I was born into a family with rich cultural traditions, including ancestors who, through hard labor, helped make Tampa becomes known as "Cigar City".
I have become a feverish trailblazer who embraces nature, sports, and an active lifestyle (marathons...yes please!), and am a proud vegetarian committed to a healthy life and a sustainable, humane food system.
I'm dedicated, high-intensity, and have a complete passion for my practice, but am really a fun-loving character who doesn't take himself too seriously most of the time, and who feeds off of interactions with a diverse array of people.
Most importantly, I am a lucky man who has been blessed with a beautiful wife, loving parents, remarkable friends, and Gabriel, the most special gift from God.
The introductory years of my life would be shaped, not by my hard-working parents, but by my abuela Estella. This sixty year-old Cuban woman, a mere friend of the family, practically raised me from a twelve week-old newborn to a grade school youngster. To her I owe the very fabric of my character; benevolence, honesty, the pursuit of knowledge and interaction with others. Albeit early in my life, these tenets would serve to build my integrity and moral fabric. My parents have always provided the unconditional love and support I needed to excel; however, an often tumultuous life made me come to the realization that not every day in life proceeds according to plan; life has its surprises, so I learned to seize each day in pursuit of my goals. Similarly, I learned to become independent, analytical, and eager to discover my role in life.
Tutelage in high school and college would serve as the impetus, and subsequently the driving force for unearthing my passion for knowledge and appeal to sports and fitness. Working and volunteering in the community fostered my affection for people, both friends and strangers, and my yearning to be a part of their lives. Progressively, the thought of and my desire to become a physician grew. I began to guide my education, employment, and spare time towards investigation of everything in a physicians world, from the seemingly chaotic medical hodgepodge in the ER to the ever-criticized managed care establishment. The lure of medicine culminated in my application and acceptance to the University of South Florida (USF) Morsani College of Medicine in 2002. However, after immense reflection and despite what I believed to be a strong passion to employ individualized patient care to treat disease and illness, I came to the self-realization that life as a physician would not best achieve my career and personal objectives. Despite being the single most difficult decision of my young life, hindsight and my discovery of the realm of public health have convinced me that withdrawing from medical school was the correct path for me to take.
Following my withdrawal, it was a most unique employment experience with the American Cancer Society that changed my life. For over twelve years (until late 2014), I lived, yes lived, at the Benjamin Mendick (now Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation) Hope Lodge on USFs campus, among cancer patients and their loved ones. I served as the resident Night Manager at this gorgeous facility, erected to provide free housing to cancer patients while undergoing treatment. I yearned to inject warmth, compassion, and genuine fun into the lodge environment, which ensured that we lessen emotional burden for our patients and caregivers. At the lodge I experienced miracles and a benevolence and compassion is lacking in the world in which we live. It kept me grounded, appreciative, and optimistic about the future.
And then I embarked on my career in epidemiology, the scientific cornerstone of public health. In my pre-doctorate role as an Epidemiology and Statistical Data Analysis Manager at the University of South Florida from 2008-2014, I worked on a myriad of state- and federally-funded grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts, and amassed a substantial and versatile proficiency, not only in epidemiological methodology, but particularly in database development, as well as data linkage, management, and analysis. Upon graduation, I served as first or co-author on 30 peer-reviewed publications. Shortly after joining Baylor College of Medicine in Nov 2014, through active contribution to intra- and inter-institutional grant submissions, and in my appointed role as Director of Analytics for our departmental Center for Prevention, Primary Care and Population Health Research, I have maintained 100% funding without seed assistance, and currently (Jan 2022) have over 170 peer-reviewed papers, 50+ published abstracts, and many conference talks. My experience, technical and adaptable skillset, and penchant for multitasking make me a consummate team scientist.
Despite my involvement in team science, I have national recognition as an expert in birth defects surveillance methodology, evaluation, and research. This is exemplified not only by my funding levels, but also by my service as Chair of two committees and my winning the election to become the 2018 President of the National Birth Defects Prevention Network. I was a principal architect of a database management system delivered to states participating in the CDC-funded Zika Pregnancy Registry and Surveillance of Zika-Related Birth Defects initiatives.
I have substantial experience in the education, mentoring, and advising of graduate/medical students, clinical and research post-docs, and junior faculty. I am the Assistant Director of a T32 primary care research fellowship, Training Curriculum Director for a HRSA-funded undergraduate pipeline training grant, Trainer and Evaluator for our Center of Excellence in Health Equity, Training, and Research, and have a strong record of academic products (publications/presentations) that resulted from my mentorship of students, fellows, and junior faculty. In April 2019, I was also appointed as my department’s Director of Faculty Development.
I love being challenged, competing, teaching, learning, and experiencing life. In February 2020, I returned back home, accepting an Associate Professor position with my alma mater. Yes, this was right before the pandemic. Since then, in addition to maintain my research, teaching, mentoring, and professional service responsibilities, I've maintained a comprehensive COVID-19 dashboard for Floridians and have done over 450 media interviews (as of Jan 2022). I am blessed to have the woman of my dreams, Jennifer, as my wife, and a beautiful son, born in 2018, named Gabriel. Albeit abbreviated and encapsulated, this is who I am - a compassionate, upright, intelligent, and devoted father, husband, teacher, and learner, eager to pursue his passion and be an outstanding credit to his profession.
Come see what I do
Curriculum vitae (CV)
My education, professional experience, teaching and mentorship, service activities, skills, and interests
Last updated January 2022
This CV is interactive!
I've placed hyperlinks throughout the document to facilitate navigation to universities, organizations, societies, and professional and social profiles.
Each published paper that has already been listed in PubMed also has a link that takes you directly there!
A sample of some of my recent papers designed to advance knowledge and improve health
Just click on the paper's image to view the paper in PubMed!
You can also see all of my peer-reviewed publications in PubMed by clicking here!
The association between use of opiates, cocaine, and amphetamines during pregnancy and maternal postpartum readmission in the United States: A retrospective analysis of the Nationwide Readmissions Database
Salemi JL, Raza SA, Modak S, Fields-Gilmore JAR, Mejia de Grubb MC, Zoorob RJ
Drug and Alcohol Dependence
The Relative Contribution of Data Sources to a Birth Defects Registry Utilizing Passive Multisource Ascertainment Methods: Does a Smaller Birth Defects Case Ascertainment Net Lead to Overall or Disproportionate Loss?
Salemi JL, Tanner JP, Block S, Bailey M, Correia JA, Watkins SM, Kirby RS
Journal of Registry Management
MORE IN THE NEWS
CNN Interview with Breanna Keilar
July 17, 2020
IN THE NEWS
September 9, 2021
MORE IN THE NEWS
One of the very few times growing up I actually had a picture that made it in the newspaper
Chosen to represent Hillsborough County in Sports Illustrated featuring hometown heroes Tony and Bertha Saladino
Interestingly, the cover of this SI issue featured Joe Montana's retirement...
RUNNING DOWN A DREAM
I make a cameo in the start of the 2010 San Francisco Half Marathon
this is the happiest I would be all race amid the rolling hills
MY REAL PRIORITIES
Take a look and enjoy!
My son is both a miracle and a marvel. Here at almost 3 years!
My Two Blessings
Mommy, Daddy, and Gabriel Leonardo
They Grow Up So Quickly
The Little Man at 15 Months