Marielena Lara

Photo of Marielena Lara
Senior Physician Policy Researcher
Santa Monica Office


B.S. in mechanical engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; M.D. in pediatrics, Harvard Medical School/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology; M.P.H. in health services management and policy, University of California, Los Angeles

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Marielena Lara is a senior physician policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. She leads program and policy initiatives to reduce racial, ethnic, and economic disparities. As a translational scientist, she uses community-based participatory research and mixed methods to conduct needs assessments of the social determinants of health and wellbeing and implement interventions to address them. Dr. Lara is a native Spanish speaker, born and raised in Puerto Rico, who has devoted her career to Latino populations in the United States and internationally. Her diverse research portfolio includes technology assessment, child health and policy, survey and qualitative methods in non-English-speaking populations, quality improvement interventions for chronic disease, and epidemiological studies. Most recently, Dr. Lara led an analysis of Puerto Rico’s mayors’ perspectives after the 2017 hurricanes. She has interdisciplinary training in engineering (B.S., MIT), medicine (Harvard Medical School/MIT Division of Health Sciences of Technology and board-certified pediatrician), and public health and policy (M.S., UCLA). Previous academic appointments include UCLA, USC, and the University of Puerto Rico. Dr. Lara is an experienced multilingual communicator to research, policy, and community audiences, and a dual U.S.-EU citizen who is also fluent in French.

Recent Projects

  • Puerto Rico Economic & Disaster Recovery Plan
  • Childhood Asthma Community Health Care Programs
  • Hispanic Workers' Occupational Health
  • Informing Latinas about Medications to Reduce Risk for Breast Cancer
  • Policy Options to Improve Pediatric Asthma Outcomes in the US

Selected Publications

Lara, M., et al., "Acculturation and Latino Health in the United States," Annual Review of Public Health, 2005

Lara, M., et al., "Improving Childhood Asthma Outcomes in the United States: A Blueprint for Policy Action," Pediatrics

Lara, M., et al., "Balancing “Fidelity” and Community Context in the Adaptation of Asthma Evidence-Based Interventions in the “Real World”," Health Promotion Practice

Lara M and Goodman CS, National Priorities for the Assessment of Clinical Conditions and Medical Technologies, National Academy Press

Lara, M., et al., "Reducing Quality of Care Disparities for Childhood Asthma: La Red de Asma Infantil Intervention in San Juan, Puerto Rico," Pediatrics

Lara, M., et al., "Development and validation of the RAND Asthma Control Measure," European Respiratory Journal

Lara, M., et al., "An English and Spanish Pediatric Asthma Symptom Scale," Medical Care

Lara, M., et al., "Heterogeneity of Childhood Asthma Among Hispanic Children: Puerto Rican Children Bear a Disproportionate Burden," Pediatrics

Honors & Awards

  • America's Top Pediatricians
  • RAND Alumni Association Impact Award


Spanish; French

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Hispanic Communications Network; La Raza Magazine; Washington Hispanic


  • Doctor holding inhaler mask for girl breathing

    Can the Affordable Care Act Help Asthma Sufferers Breathe Easier?

    ACA reforms can potentially address barriers that get in the way of individuals with asthma getting the care they need. At the population level, the law has the potential to improve outcomes and efficiency and equity of services for chronic conditions such as asthma for which cost-effective preventive treatments exist.

    Nov 20, 2013 The RAND Blog