|Paula Ford: An inspiration on the U.S.-Mexico border|
In Memory of Paula B. Ford (May 20, 1964 – October 8, 2011). On October 8, 2011, Dr. Paula Bridged Ford passed away after a two year battle with inflammatory breast cancer.
In 2009, Dr. Ford was recruited by the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) as an Assistant Professor assigned to teaching and research. She was diagnosed with IBC just two months after relocating with her family to El Paso. In spite of aggressive treatments of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, she continued teaching courses and engaging in many areas of border health research.
During her time at the University of Texas at El Paso, Dr. Ford was the Lead or Co-Lead on many significant grant funded research endeavors. In 2010 she was the recipient of the Outstanding Research Performance Award for the College of Health Science. Her areas of research focused on border health disparities, specifically food access, obesity, air quality, climate change and West Nile virus.
Dr. Ford earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy from Clemson University in 1987 and a Master of Science degree in Agronomy from The University of Georgia in 1989. She completed her doctorate in Human Nutrition at Kansas State University in 2009.
In April, 2010, Dr. Ford accepted an invitation from the US-Mexico Border Office of the Pan American Health Organization to join the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC) Chamizal initiative’s Technical Advisory Group. Her active participation and expertise in agricultural development, human nutrition research and project evaluation were an invaluable resource to the Chamizal HKHC project and for the other members of the partnership.
Dr. Ford advocated the transparent sharing of knowledge and research data. She encouraged the graduate students she mentored to support the HKHC initiative by sharing their thesis research and data pertaining to hunger and deprivation in South El Paso and the quality of public park space. In September, 2010, she co-facilitated a workshop in the Chamizal community on the proper use of the Community Park Audit Tool in coordination with Dr. Andrew T. Kaczynski of Kansas State University, Dr. Enrique Jacoby of PAHO WDC and UTEP MPH student Amir Kamel.
Dr. Ford faithfully attended the HKHC’s monthly meetings despite a physically demanding cancer treatment regimen. She continued to keep in regular contact via email when she could no longer attend. Paula Ford’s dedication to the HKHC’s efforts continues to inspire us to achieve the ambitious goals and visions she had for a healthier Chamizal and greater El Paso community.
She is survived by her husband, Dr. William Hargrove, their son Paul Leonard Hargrove, and respective family members. Two scholarships and one memorial fund have been established in her honor.
On behalf of the Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) we send to her family, friends and colleagues, our heartfelt condolences.