Rachel T. Leon Guerrero, PhD

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | (+671) 735-2001

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

Academic Appointment(s):
Associate Dean/Director of Western Pacific Tropical Research Center College of Natural & Applied Sciences, University of Guam

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

Research Focus

As a native Chamorro Pacific Islander of Guam, I am one of the very few 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 four peer-reviewed publications, and three abstracts in 2007 Annual Meeting of American Association of Public Health, 2006 Experimental Biology Conference, and 2006 National Nutrient Databank Conference. 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)”. The goal of the BRISK project was to conduct a retrospective case-control study with 110 cases and 220 controls to develop a model of breast cancer risk among Asian Pacific Islanders. The goal of the CHL Project is to prevent young child obesity through community-based prevention programs, based on local needs assessments that identify culturally and economically sustainable approaches.

My research has focused primarily on looking at how diet and lifestyle factors of Guam residents impact their risk of chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and obesity. Very little was published about the dietary intake patterns of children or adults on Guam before I joined the faculty at the University of Guam in 1998. The first study was published in 1968, when Jean Hankin surveyed the diet of 628 Chamorro (indigenous) adults. Twenty-seven years later, Pobocik published her study on the dietary intake patterns of 5th grade children on Guam. In 2001, Guam added 3 questions onto the BRFSS questionnaire to start capturing data on fruit/vegetable intake and body weight. Other than these limited bits of information, very little was known about dietary intake patterns of Guam. The purpose of my investigation into dietary intake of Guam residents was to re-establish a baseline of ‘usual’ intake and to gain a better understanding of the relationship between diet and chronic disease risk. I began this process of collecting ‘baseline’ information on dietary intake while I was Co-Leader of a NCI U56-funded Pilot Project that investigated risk factors associated with chronic disease. I’ve had the opportunity to study different aspects of dietary intake on Guam.

Selected Publications

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 Epidemiology. S1877-7821(17)30054-1. DOI: 10.1016/j.canep.2017.04.008

Matanane L, Silva J, Li F, Leon Guerrero RT, Novotny R, Barber R, Fialkowski M. (2017). “Para I Famagu’on-Ta”: Fruit And Vegetable Intake, Food Store Environment, And Childhood Overweight/Obesity In The Children’s Healthy Living Program On Guam. Hawaii J Med & Pub Health. 76(8): 225-233.

Maskarinec G, Morimoto Y, Blas-Laguana MS, Novotny R, Leon Guerrero RT. (2016). Bioimpedence to Assess Breast Density as a Risk Factor for Breast Cancer in Adult Women and Adolescent Girls. Asia Pac J Cancer Prev; 17(1):65-71. DOI:10.7314/APJCP.2016.17.1.65 PMCID: PMC4758674

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

Paulino, YC, Leon Guerrero RT, Natividad Z, Quinene J, Rosadino MG, Uncangco A. (2015). Overweight and obesity prevalence among public school children in Guam. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved; May;26(2 Suppl):53-62. DOI: 0.1353/hpu.2015.0066. PMCID: PMC4503469

Publication list via PubMed

Active Grants

R.T. Leon Guerrero, Co-Investigator; Y. Paulino, PI
"A Cohort for Studying the Burden of Cardiometabolic Diseases in Guam and Pohnpei"
The major goal of this study is to study cardiometabolic diseases among in a cohort of USAPI populations, while the institutionalization of the proposed epidemiologic cohort will ensure the sustainability of population health data collection. The information will continue to inform the prevention and control of cardiometabolic diseases, as well as overall health promotion in the USAPIs.
07/01/2016 – 06/30/2021

R.T. Leon Guerrero, Co-PI; Underwood, PI
"University of Guam/Cancer Research Center of Hawaii Partnership (2 of 2)"
This grant supports the partnership between the University of Guam and University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center in cancer research, training, education, and outreach.
09/01/2015 – 08/31/2020