Professor Guillermo “Willy” Prado is committed to making South Florida a better place to live. As director of the Division of Prevention Science and Community Health at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, Prado has pioneered programs that reduce drug abuse and other health problems among Hispanic youths by strengthening their families. As a generous donor to the University, he also contributes to the education of a new generation of community leaders.
“I’ve given to our University for many years through the annual United Way drive and the Momentum2 campaign,” says Prado, M.S. ’00, Ph.D. ’05, the Leonard M. Miller Professor of Public Health Sciences. He also has contributed to the Master of Public Health Scholarship Fund and José Szapocznik Leadership Fund, which provides scholarships for public health students, and to the Springboard Program, which supports innovative, independent projects by students who are working toward or recently earned a master of public health.
Born in Mexico City, Prado moved to Miami at age 3 and graduated from Coral Gables High School. “My parents worked multiple jobs so that my brother and I could have a better life,” he says. “That inspired me at an early age to give back to our community.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in math and statistics from the University of Florida, Prado joined the University of Miami in 2000 as a graduate student. Through the years, he has been involved in innovative teaching, research and service projects, and developed the Miller School’s foundation class in prevention science and community health.
Now, Prado is planning a doctoral program in prevention science and community health that would be the first such Ph.D. program offered by a U.S. medical school. “If we receive approval, we hope to admit the first students in the fall of 2015,” he says.
Once the doctoral program is established, Prado’s goal is to provide financial support in the form of scholarships to the aspiring prevention scientists. He also hopes to establish a world class Center of Excellence focusing on improving the health of adolescents.
Nationally known for his research, which has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Prado is a member of the National Hispanic Science Network’s Steering Committee. Last year he chaired the Society for Prevention Research’s 21st Annual Conference and the National Hispanic Science Network’s 14th Annual Conference. The Familias Unidas (United Families) intervention program he developed with Hilda Pantin, professor and executive vice chair of Public Health Sciences, has been so effective in preventing or reducing substance use and other risky behaviors among Hispanic youth, it has been expanded to tackle obesity. Familias Unidas also has drawn international interest, including the recent formation of a collaborative program with Ecuador.
“It has become the ‘gold standard’ for Hispanic families,” says Prado. “We help parents learn from each other in a group setting, and show them how to discuss sensitive topics with their children.”
When Prado isn’t working, he enjoys reading, running, and working out at the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center. “I wake up every morning and look forward to coming here and making a difference in others’ lives,” he says. “It’s very rewarding to be part of our great University, and I encourage other faculty and staff to give back as well. Go ’Canes!”
Read about other faculty and staff who support the U.