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Maria Claudia Norena

Associate Director, Strategy & Innovation
Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center
School of Medicine

Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center
School of Engineering


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UAB | University of Alabama at Birmingham
MT 512F | 1717 11th Avenue South | Birmingham, AL 35294-4410 | USA

Maria Norena is Associate Director of Strategy & Innovation for two interdisciplinary research centers approved by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees:  the UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC) approved in 2002; and the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center (SSC) approved in 2012.

Maria Norena has worked since 2003, under the leadership of Mona Fouad, MD, MPH, Director of the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine and Associate Dean in the School of Medicine, in the establishment and strategic growth of the UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center.   During the first decade, the center received $100 million in competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance the science of health disparities. The most recent work focuses on the intersection of health and economic development, the social determinants of health, and the impact of the built environment in the health of communities.

At the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center (SSC), Maria works under the leadership of Dr. Fouad Fouad, Professor and Chair in the UAB School of Engineering.  Her work focuses on the development of strategic initiatives, including the establishment of national and international affiliations for joint research and training, i.e. Future Cities Lab at Staffordshire University in the United Kingdom.

Prior to her current position, Maria Norena lead the creation and establishment of the first UAB International Medical Services Program for the UAB Hospital starting in 1987, and followed by the opening of the first UAB Office in Latin America that she directed during the period 1991-2000.   In this capacity, she successfully developed academic affiliations with the top health care organizations in Latin America that resulted in training opportunities for physicians, and access to tertiary care services for international patients.

Maria Norena has degrees in Social Communication Sciences, Mass Communications, and Advertising from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota Colombia.  
She completed a Certificate Program in Advanced Marketing from the University of California at Berkeley, and is a Fellow of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Center for Creative Leadership.

She is an alumna of the MOMENTUM Women Leadership Program (Class of 2005).

Board Member:  

YWCA OF CENTRAL ALABAMA (2013 – present)
BIRMINGHAM BUSINESS ALLIANCE - Chair, Hispanic Business Council (2011 – 2013)

Languages: Spanish and English.

Updated April 2014


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UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center (SSCRC)

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