Esteban G. Burchard, MD, MPH

Phone: +1 415 514-9677
Fax: +1 415 514-4365

1550 4th Street, Bldg 19B, Rm 584B
UCSF Box 2911
San Francisco, CA 94158
United States


Educational programs

UCSF centers, institutes, and research programs

Center for Genes, Environments and Health

External affiliations

What I do

I am a physician-scientist with training in pulmonary medicine, genetics, and epidemiology. My research and academic interests center on identifying disease risk factors specific to racial groups, most especially those related to asthma and drug response. I am engaged in a new, international field of study relating ancestry and genetic susceptibility to specific diseases and varying drug response.

My research expertise

Asthma, Pharmacogenetics, Admixture, Population genetics, Race/ethnicity and genetics, Pulmonary and critical care medicine, Underserved populations, Minority recruitment


MPH, Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley, 2006
MD, Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, 1995
BS, Cellular and Molecular Biology, San Francisco State University, 1990


Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children. In the U.S., childhood asthma prevalence is highest among Puerto Ricans (18.4%), followed by Blacks (14.6%), Whites (8.2%) and Mexicans (4.8%). These disparities extend to asthma mortality, which is four-fold higher in Puerto Ricans and African Americans compared to Mexican Americans. There are marked differences in drug response to asthma therapies between racial and ethnic groups, which contribute to health disparities in asthma morbidity and mortality. Albuterol, a short-acting ß2-agonist, is the most commonly prescribed asthma medication in the world. We and others have demonstrated that Puerto Rican and African American children with asthma were significantly less responsive to albuterol than European American children. In addition, long-acting ß2-agonist (LABA) usage has been associated with increased mortality among African American subjects. These findings suggest that poor response to asthma therapies contributes to health disparities in asthma morbidity and mortality. Racial/ethnic differences in drug response are partially explained by genetic differences. We study the interplay between genes and the environment to determine the root causes of asthma health disparities in children and adolescents to identify and develop targeted interventions to improve asthma outcomes.

I work in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary team of investigators from several Universities, which includes scientists with expertise in epidemiology, biostatistics, medicine, molecular and cell biology and genomics. Using tools from these disciplines, we perform comprehensive research (genetic, social and environmental) designed to untangle why populations differ in health and disease. We have leveraged the rich ancestry of racially mixed (admixed) populations to untangle complex gene-environment interactions for health and disease. We have developed specific expertise in population-based genetic studies in admixed populations. Most importantly, we are working to ensure that modern advances in research will benefit all populations.