Carlos Roberto Jaén, PhD ’78, MD ’79

Carlos Roberto Jaen.

When Carlos Roberto Jaén was pursuing a PhD in epidemiology and community health at UB, he was sure that public health was his future, but then his career took an unexpected turn.

“As I was finishing my PhD, I learned that a lot of the jobs in public health required an MD, so I applied to the medical school. At that point I fell in love with clinical practice, particularly family medicine,” he recalls. “I realized there was an opportunity to bridge family medicine and public health in a very powerful way.”

Jaén proceeded to cross that bridge in illustrious fashion. After his residency at Case Western Reserve University, he was recruited back to UB, where he spent the next nine years as a faculty member in the Department of Family Medicine. The native of Panama soon became engaged with Buffalo’s Latino community, launching a large community based health needs study. The success of the study led to his serving as founding director of the Center for Urban Research and Primary Care in the Department of Family Medicine.

Along the way, Jaén also served on an expert panel that published smoking cessation guidelines for the Public Health Service and became involved in research that explores new ways of practicing primary care.

Since 2001, Jaén has been professor and chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He was recently elected to chair the American Board of Family Medicine, which certifies the nation’s family physicians. He begins a one-year term in 2014.

In October 2013, Jaén was among 70 new members elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. Among other things, the IOM cited the international acclaim he has received for his research on improving patient-centered care and community health.

Jaén’s experience at UB remains close to him. “I had great mentors at UB medical school. I had an opportunity to really get to know a field like family medicine, especially how to put together collaborative teams to work on projects.”