Dr. Valerie B. Yerger is an Associate Professor of Health Policy in the Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences and in the Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education. Dr. Yerger, who is trained in naturopathic medicine and licensed in California as a naturopathic doctor, brings to the CTCRE a novel focus on tobacco usage as a social justice issue that disproportionately affects marginalized communities. Dr. Yerger incorporates tobacco industry documents research into her work. She has years of experience researching and analyzing tobacco documents, examining specifically the tobacco industry’s relationships with African American leadership groups and the tobacco companies’ marketing of menthol cigarettes in inner-city communities. Since 2004, Dr. Yerger has coordinated the CTCRE annual tobacco documents workshop. Since 2007, Dr. Yerger has successfully secured funding to offer diversity scholarships to tobacco control advocates from the generally under-represented communities, so they may travel to San Francisco to attend the workshop. Dr. Yerger initiated the research on melanin's potential role in nicotine exposure, nicotine dependence, and smoking behavior. Melanin is the primary determinant of skin color in human beings, and tissues containing melanin have been shown to accumulate nicotine. This is exciting research that has led to collaboration with other national and international investigators. Dr. Yerger's research interests also include investigating ways African Americans may increase their ability to quit smoking and remain tobacco-free by reframing tobacco and tobacco industry targeted marketing as social justice issues and utilizing a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach. Dr. Yerger is part of the UCSF team invited by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to search the Legacy tobacco documents archives for tobacco industry research on menthol cigarettes, leading to a number of publications in a special supplement of a leading specialty journal. Dr. Yerger provided expert testimony of the findings from this research to the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC), who then provided guidance to the FDA on the regulation of menthol in tobacco products.
University of California, Berkeley, B.S., 06/1981, Natural Resources
John F. Kennedy University, M.A., 06/1985, Health Education
Bastyr University, N.D., 06/1992, Naturopathic Medicine
University of California, San Francisco, Fellowship, 05/2005, Health Policy Research