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Minal Patel, PhD, MPH

Senior Principal Scientist
Tobacco Control Research

Woman, med brown skin tone, long black hair, black blazer, maroon blouse, 3-circle necklace

How I Want to Help

The many people in my life who have been touched by cancer inspired me to devote my career to cancer-prevention research. My goal as a researcher is to better understand the social determinants that shape our behaviors and support our efforts to live healthier lives. I’m motivated every day to conduct research that helps spur the development of policies that aim to prevent deaths from cancer and ultimately save the lives of our country’s most vulnerable community members.”

At ACS since 2022

Minal Patel, PhD, MPH, is a senior principal scientist in Surveillance & Health Equity Science within the Tobacco Control Group. Her research examines the impact of tobacco control policies on health behaviors, with an overarching goal of understanding and reducing related health disparities in the United States.  

At the American Cancer Society (ACS), Patel works with colleagues from ACS Cancer Action Network (CAN) to provide evidence-based research to support policy development. Her research focuses on examining health inequities in states with the highest rates of tobacco use and the impact of tobacco control policies on people living in those states.  

Patel also leads research that examines emerging tobacco products and products that are used along with tobacco products, such as cannabis.  

Research focus and accomplishments

Patel has a broad spectrum of research interests. She particularly focuses on how social, built, and policy environments affect lifestyle behaviors related to cancer. Patel’s research includes understanding the impact of policies on tobacco prevention and use, as well as tobacco cessation in adolescents, young adults, and vulnerable and underserved populations.  

She’s also conducted research to examine various tobacco policies and support for policies that has been used in the development of subsequent policy development at the national level.  

Patel has received various awards, including the National Institutes of Health Sallie Rosen Kaplan (SRK) Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women Scientists in Cancer Research, and has been invited to speak at national and international conferences.  


For a full list of Dr. Patel’s publications, see her  Google Scholar page. 


Work before ACS

  • Truth Initiative, Director of Research, Policy
  • National Cancer Institute, Cancer Prevention Fellow
  • University of California, Los Angeles Comprehensive Cancer Center and Fielding School of Public Health, Project Director/Researcher

Professional organizations

  • American Public Health Association (APHA), Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Section, Member
  • Asian Pacific Islander Caucus, Member
  • Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM)
  • Society for Research in Nicotine and Tobacco Research (SRNT), Health Equity Network, Advisory Committee


  • PhD: Public Health (Community Health Sciences), Minor in Urban Planning, University of California, Los Angeles 
  • MPH: Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, San Diego State University 
  • BA: Psychology, Minor in Education, University of California, Berkeley

Personal life 

I live in California and love to try new foods, travel, and go on adventures with my two kids and husband.