Dr. Vaca is a Professor and Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs in Yale School of Medicine's Department of Emergency Medicine and he holds a secondary appointment in the Yale Child Study Center. Dr. Vaca previously served as a Medical Fellow for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in Washington, D.C. He serves on the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies’ Committee on Operator Education and Regulation, ANB30 and its Young Driver Subcommittee. Dr. Vaca was a recent Collaborating-Visiting Scholar at the NIH-Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD), Division of Intramural Population Health Research (DIPHR), Health Behavior Branch (HBB).
Dr. Vaca is a research and academic mentor to research fellows in the NIDA-funded K12 Mentored Clinical Scientists Development Program Award in Drug Abuse and Addiction and the Yale University Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program.
His research has focused on adolescent development and behaviors that influence the risk of motor vehicle crash morbidity and mortality as well as health disparities in injury and alcohol use disorders. Dr. Vaca has served on several national expert panels directed by the National Institutes of Health, National Academies of Science and the Transportation Research Board, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Safe States Alliance (formerly the State Territorial Injury Prevention Directors Association), and the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Dr. Vaca has served as member of the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors for the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. He is also a Research Scientist member of the National Hispanic Science Network.
Dr. Vaca was recently awarded the 2013 American College of Emergency Physicians National Faculty Teaching Award.