Rachael Leon Guerrero

Rachael T. Leon Guerrero, PhD, RDN

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Full Member, Population Sciences in the Pacific Program (Cancer Prevention in the Pacific), University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center

Academic Appointment(s):
Dean, University of Guam, College of Natural and Applied Sciences

PhD, Human Nutrition, Colorado State University
MS, Human Nutrition, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Registered Dietician

Research Focus

As a native Chamoru Pacific Islander of Guam, I am one of the very few on Guam who conducts research on obesity and lifestyle factors impacting breast cancer risk, and child obesity prevention among Pacific Islanders. My academic background is in nutrition and dietetics; and when initially hired as a faculty at UOG, my primary role assignment was in extension and community outreach, not research. During those first years at UOG when my research activities were minimal due to my assignment, my extension and outreach experiences with the various community groups on Guam exposed me to the status of nutrition, health and chronic disease disparity issues on Guam. My first funded post-graduate research experience was through the U56 MI/CCP partnership grant between the University of Guam and University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center. I collaborated with Dr. Suzanne Murphy and Dr. Rachel Novotny on a funded pilot project entitled “Evaluation of risk factors for chronic disease among adults in Guam”. My research work on this pilot project led to several abstracts/presentations and publications. In April 2008, I was also honored with the distinction of a “Rising Star” in the National Cancer Institute Minority Institution Cancer Center Partnership Program. I then went on to collaborate with Dr. Rachel Novotny on several other funded research grants including a USDA/NIFA-funded project entitled “Children’s Healthy Living Program for Remote Underserved Populations of the Pacific Region (CHL)”; and a U54 MI/CCP full project entitled “Development of a Breast Cancer Risk Model for the Pacific (BRISK)”. Results have already been published in several manuscripts, and three other manuscripts are in process. The goal of the CHL Project was to prevent young child obesity through community-based prevention programs, based on local needs assessments that identify culturally and economically sustainable approaches. A continuation of the CHL Project, which was completed in 2017, was funded by USDA to conduct a five-year follow-up. I am also finishing up an NIMHD-funded U24 Grant (1U24MD011201-01), to study cardiometabolic diseases among a cohort of U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islanders from both Guam, Pohnpei, and Palau. Currently, I am serving as the University of Guam Contact PI for the U54 PIPCHE grant with the UH Cancer Center, where I have had the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Neal Palafox for the past seven years. In July of 2018, I was designated as Director for the UOG Cancer Research Center; and in January 2019 I was promoted to the position of Vice Provost of Research and Sponsored Programs at the University of Guam. In November 2023, I moved back to the UOG College of Natural and Applied Sciences, where I am now Dean/Director.

Selected Publications

Leon Guerrero RT, Mummert AG, Rios DC, Mian NC, Cruz TP, Siriwardhana C, Yanagihara R. Perceived Barriers and Benefits of COVID-19 Testing among Pacific Islanders on Guam. International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health. 2023 Jul 5;20(13):6302. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20136302.

Leon Guerrero RT, Hattori-Uchima MP, Badowski G, Aflague TF, Wood KM, Hammond K, and Perez R. Pacific Islands Cohort on Cardiometabolic Health Study: Rationale and Design. BMC Public Health. 2022 Jul 27;22(1):1428. doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-13783-9. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-022-13783-9

Leon Guerrero RT, Barber LR, Aflague TF, Paulino YC, Hattori-Uchima MP, Acosta M, Wilkens LR, Novotny R. (2020). Prevalence and Predictors of Overweight and Obesity among Young Children in the Children’s Healthy Living Study on Guam. Nutrients;12(9),2527. doi.org/10.3390/nu12092527.

Leon Guerrero RT, Palafox NA, Hattori-Uchima M, Robinett HR, Vogel CW. (2020). Addressing Cancer Health Disparities in the Pacific Peoples of Hawai’i, Guam, and the U.S. Associated Pacific Islands through Pacific-focused Research Capacity Building and Cancer Research. JCO Glob Oncol; Feb;6:155-160. doi: 10.1200/GO.19.00213.

Leon Guerrero RT, Novotny R, Wilkens LR, Chong M, White KK, Shvetsov YB, Buyum A, Badowski G, Blas-Laguana M. (2017). Risk Factors for Breast Cancer in the Breast Cancer Risk Model study of Guam and Saipan. Cancer Epidemiol.;S1877-7821(17)30054-1. DOI: 10.1016/j.canep.2017.04.008.

Leon Guerrero RT, Chong M, Novotny R, Wilkens LR, Badowski G, Blas M, Murphy S. (2015). Validity and reliability of a quantitative food frequency questionnaire (ffq) for use in Guam. Food Nutr Res;59:26276; DOI:10.3402/fnr.v59.26276. PMCID: PMC4422845.

Leon Guerrero RT, Badowski G, Yamanaka A, Blas-Laguana M, Bordallo R, et al. (2014). University of Hawai'i Cancer Center connection: The vital role of cancer registries in the recruitment of an understudied minority population into a breast cancer study: Breast Cancer Risk Model for the Pacific. Hawaii J Med Public Health;Oct;73(10):335-40. PMCID: PMC4203456.

Publication list via PubMed

Active Grants

R. Leon Guerrero, PI; N. Palafox, MPI
“(2/2) U54 Pacific Island Partnership for Cancer Health Equity (PIPCHE)”
This grant supports the U54 partnership between the University of Guam and University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center in cancer research, training, education, and outreach.
09/28/2009 – 08/31/2025

R. Leon Guerrero, MPI, N. Palafox, PI; B. Hernandez, MPI, University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center
“(1/2) Pacific Island Partnership for Cancer Health Equity (PIPCHE) “
09/28/09 – 08/31/25 Current segment start: 09/21/20  

R. Leon Guerrero, PI
"A Cohort for Studying the Burden of Cardiometabolic Diseases in Guam, Pohnpei, and Palau"
The goal of the supplement is to increase the sample size of the cohort and extend the study to Palau.
02/01/2019 – 1/31/2024

T. Donaldson, PI, R. Leon Guerrero, Co-PI, A. Shelton, Co-PI, B. Bentlage, Co-PI
“EPSCoR RII Track-1: Guam Ecosystems Collaboratorium for Corals and Oceans”.
The goal of this project is to: build on the Guam Ecosystem Collaboratorium’s accomplishments by engaging one of NSF’s Ten Big Ideas, Understanding the Rules of Life, in investigating responses of coral reef organisms to environmental (= oceanographic) effects driven by climate change; expand a Biorepository and online database of biodiversity; and develop innovative programs for STEM education, workforce development and community engagement that promote island sustainability.
7/01/2020 – 6/30/2025