Esteban cultivated an early interest in health disparities, genetics and pulmonary medicine while at Stanford University. As a Harvard medical resident, working with Jeffrey Drazen, MD, Esteban identified a genetic risk factor for asthma severity that was 40% more common in African Americans than European Americans.
Esteban continues to study the genetics, epidemiology and pharmacogenetics of asthma as UCSF’s Harry Wm. and Diana V. Hind Distinguished Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences. He is best known for the GALA and SAGE studies which analyze the interplay of social, environmental and genetic factors affecting asthma risk and treatment in minority youth. These studies comprise the largest pediatric gene-environment study of asthma in ethnic/racial minority populations in the U.S.
Esteban has consistently advocated for better representation of diverse populations in biomedical research and physicians and scientists from minority and disadvantaged groups, asserting that a better understanding of genetics in minority and underserved populations leads to more targeted therapy for all individuals.
Figure: Lifetime asthma prevalence varies substantially by race/ethnicity, making asthma the most disparate chronic disease in the U.S.