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William Vega - USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Los Angeles, CA, US

William Vega William Vega

Emeritus Professor | USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work


Former Cleofas and Victor Ramirez Professor of Practice, Policy, Research and Advocacy for the Latino Population.


William Vega was a provost professor at USC with appointments in social work, preventive medicine, psychiatry, family medicine, psychology and gerontology. He was also the executive director of the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging. Prior to joining the Roybal Institute, Vega was director of the Luskin Center on Innovation and an associate provost at UCLA.

Vega was born in East Los Angeles and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) in 2008, Vega is a specialist in the health of Latino populations, and has conducted community and clinical research projects on health, mental health and substance abuse in the United States and Latin America.

He has published more than 190 articles and chapters, in addition to six books. Vega is currently ranked by Research Gate in the top 2 percent of authors in overall research impact, and ISI Web of Science in 2006 listed him in the top half of one percent of the most highly cited researchers worldwide in social science research over the previous 20 years.

He is the recipient of many awards including the Community, Culture and Prevention Science Award from the Society for Prevention Research, and the Award of Excellence in Research by a Senior Scientist from the National Hispanic Science Network. In 2013, Vega gave the Rema Lapouse Award lecture for excellence in research from the Mental Health, Epidemiology, and Statistics sections of the American Public Health Association.

Education (3)

University of California, Berkeley: PhD 1971

University of California, Berkeley: MA 1968

University of California, Berkeley: BA 1967

Areas of Expertise (10)

Aging Alzheimer's Disease Behavioral Health Gerontology Family Medicine Preventive Medicine Social Work Psychiatry Psychchology Mental Health

Industry Expertise (2)

Research Education/Learning

Accomplishments (7)

USC School of Social Work Award for Excellence in Leadership and Creativity, USC School of Social Work (professional)


Elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) (professional)


Listed in Thompson Science for inclusion in the top 0.5% of the most highly cited authors world-wide in the category of General Social Sciences (professional)


Community, Culture, and Prevention Science Award, Society for Prevention Research (professional)


National Award of Excellence in Research by a Senior Scholar, National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (professional)


John C. Ribble Visiting Professorship, University of Texas – Houston Medical School (professional)


Ralph R. Sachs Visiting Scholar in Public Health, UCLA (professional)



Media Appearances (5)

Can USC researchers solve an aging issue in Cuba?

USC News  online


“They are very interested in the models of intervention we are developing, especially the more complex self-management care models,” said Provost Professor William Vega, who also serves as the Cleofas and Victor Ramirez Professor of Practice, Policy, Research and Advocacy for the Latino Population and executive director of the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging. “On the health side, they are trying to be progressive and take the best ideas they can get from the developed world.”

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‘Tsunami’ Of Alzheimer’s Cases Among Latinos Raises Concerns Over Costs, Caregiving

Kaiser Health News  online


“This is an incoming tsunami,” said Dr. William Vega, one of the report’s authors and the Roybal Institute’s executive director. “If we don’t find breakthrough medication, we are going to be facing a terrible financial crisis.”
That tidal wave of Alzheimer’s cases is prompting some tough conversations in Latino families, who often pride themselves on caring for elders at home, rather than placing them in nursing homes.

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Minority communities will be hit hardest by soaring rates of Alzheimer’s disease

STAT News  online


It’s time to stop side-stepping the obvious: In addition to affecting the lives of virtually all Americans in the coming years, Alzheimer’s disease will devastate communities of color. We must act with urgency and coordinated force today to prevent that from happening.
According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alzheimer’s deaths increased by 55 percent among all Americans between 1999 and 2014. But they increased 99 percent for African-Americans and 107 percent for Latinos.

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Researchers, LAFD take aim at reducing misuse of emergency medical services

USC News  online


Researchers at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work will collaborate with the LAFD on a grant funded by the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute to improve the city’s EMS by more effectively directing individuals to the appropriate services...“The problem is that many of these people don’t have the experience of having a personal physician,” said William Vega, Provost Professor and executive director of the USC Roybal Institute on Aging and principal investigator on the project. “There are about 25 million people who are uninsured and won’t be seen by doctors unless they are regular patients.”

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New report underscores urgent need for investments in Alzheimer’s research for U.S. Latinos

USC News  online


“This timely report provides strong evidence of the rapidly escalating burden of Alzheimer’s disease on the U.S. Latino population,” said William Vega, co-author of the report and executive director of the USC Roybal Institute on Aging. “It is not only the growth of the prevalence that is concerning. It is also the very high metabolic syndrome and diabetes rates that are fueling the increase in Alzheimer’s to levels well beyond expected rates in the U.S. population.”

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Articles & Publications (5)

Expected impact of health care reform on the organization and service delivery of publicly funded addiction health services Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research

Erick G Guerrero, Lesley Harris, Howard Padwa, William A Vega, Lawrence Palinkas


Little is known about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be implemented in publicly funded addiction health services (AHS) organizations. Guided by a conceptual model of implementation of new practices in health care systems, this study relied on qualitative data collected in 2013 from 30 AHS clinical supervisors in Los Angeles County, California.

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A binational comparison of family and formal support in the Americas: Mexico and the U.S. Innovation in Aging

Co-Chair:, JL Angel, KS Markides, Discussant:, W Vega


This symposium examines the relationship between formal eldercare policy and the actual capacities of various levels of government and other institutions to implement specific agendas. The symposium will place special emphasis on the Hispanic population which is rapidly aging in the US, with the number of adults 65 and older expected to increase by more than six times by 2050 to 17.5 million. Mexico's population is also aging and will increase by 227 percent over the next 25 years.

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Identifying and reducing disparities in successful addiction treatment completion: testing the role of Medicaid payment acceptance Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy

Erick G Guerrero, Bryan R Garner, Benjamin Cook, Yinfei Kong, William A Vega, Lillian Gelberg


Background Medicaid has become the largest payer of substance use disorder treatment and may enhance access to quality care and reduce disparities. We tested whether treatment programs' acceptance of Medicaid payments was associated with reduced disparities between Mexican Americans and non-Latino Whites.

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Aging in Mexico: Population trends and emerging issues The Gerontologist

Jacqueline L Angel, William Vega, Mariana López-Ortega


Although all nations in the Americas face a common demographic reality of longevity, declining fertility rates and changes in family roles a growing body of research points to a dramatic demographic transformation in Mexico. Although Mexico's population is relatively young, with a median age of 27.9 in 2015, it will age rapidly in coming years, increasing to 42 years by 2050.

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Sociodemographic characteristics associated with alcohol use among low-income Mexican older adults Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy

Emma Aguila, Erick G Guerrero, William A Vega


Despite increasing concern about the quality of life of older adults, little is known about characteristics associated with health risk behaviors among older adults in middle-income countries. This study relied on unique longitudinal data to examine the relationship between sociodemographic characteristics and alcohol use among low-income older adults, one of the fastest-growing populations worldwide.

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