Valerie B. Yerger is trained as a naturopathic doctor and is a nationally acclaimed health policy researcher with unique training and expertise in community-based research and engagement, and mixed qualitative and quantitative research methods to examine the contribution of tobacco industry marketing and use of menthol cigarettes to the disproportionate smoking rates among African Americans. Dr. Yerger’s research activities have included searching tobacco industry document archives, conducting exploratory focus group studies, and collaborating with community partners in community-based participatory research projects.
Her established research program focuses on framing the disproportionate burden of tobacco among marginalized communities as a social justice issue. Her research of previously secret tobacco documents uncovered 1) the tobacco industry’s relationships with African American leadership groups, 2) the accumulation of nicotine in tissues containing melanin, 3) the disproportionate marketing of menthol cigarettes in inner-city communities, and 4) tobacco companies’ in-house research on the use of menthol as a flavor additive in cigarettes. The goal of her research program is to expose the tobacco industry targeting of marginalized communities and inform public health policies that effectively reach these communities. To accomplish this goal, she combines her experience collecting and analyzing qualitative data, while building community partnerships.
Since 2010 Dr. Yerger has participated in a number of initiatives related to menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products. As the focus on regulating these products has shifted from the federal level (US Food and Drug Administration) to local and state efforts, Dr. Yerger has been sought to help educate the constituents and key stakeholders in many, if not most, of these jurisdictions.
In 2014, Dr. Yerger assumed the leadership and responsibility of the California Tobacco Control Program’s (CTCP) “Capacity Building Network” and rebranded it as “The LOOP.” Located at UCSF, The LOOP is a centralized one-stop delivery system that delivers several services for CTCP funded projects, including trainings, “tailored assistance,” and e-blast newsletters designed to increase the competencies, confidence, and abilities of CTCP grantees and their community partners to expand their reach and service to California’s priority populations.
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