Dr. Carolyn M. Tucker: Spirit of Gainesville nominee

Published: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 4:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 4:02 p.m.

I do not know where to begin describing Dr. Carolyn M. Tucker's qualifications for the Second Annual Spirit of Gainesville Awards. Earlier this year, she had the honor of being named the Florida Blue Endowed Chair in Health Disparities Research at the University of Florida (UF). In addition to receiving this esteemed title, she also is a Distinguished Alumni Professor, the Richard and Thelma O. C. Barney Term Professor of Health Disparities in the College of Medicine, a UF Research Foundation Professor, a Professor of Psychology and of Community Health and Family Medicine, an Affiliate Professor of Pediatrics, and a devoted mentor to many UF graduate and undergraduate students. Gainesville's residents mostly know her for her community-based and culturally sensitive health promotion workshops, seminars, and cook-offs, all of which are aimed to empower patients to obtain satisfactory health care.


Dr. Carolyn M. Tucker


Category: Medicine

About Dr. Carolyn M. Tucker

Occupation: Endowed Chair in Health Disparities Research

Years in Gainesville: 36

Spouse: Mr. Theotis Callaway

Dr. Tucker first became a professor at UF in 1976. Since that time, she has tirelessly devoted herself to the pursuit of community-based research and interventions that are aimed at improving the health care and quality of life of culturally diverse people, particularly people from minority backgrounds. Her efforts are ultimately aimed at reducing health disparities, especially in the areas of obesity and diabetes. Through her role as Director of the UF Health Disparities Research and Intervention Program in the College of Medicine and of the Behavioral Medicine and Health Psychology Research Teams in the Department of Psychology, she has conducted numerous community-based and culturally sensitive health promotion workshops, seminars, and cook-offs throughout the Gainesville community, and has conducted research that has informed efforts to reduce health disparities locally and nationally. In the past few years, she has partnered with 11 local churches with the goal of transforming these churches into health promotion centers where church leaders implement exercise activities and other health-themed events to promote the health of their fellow church members. Many of these “Health-Smart Churches” now implement her Health-Smart Behavior Program to Promote Health and Modify and Prevent Obesity. With a recent grant from the Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida, this program will soon be implemented in AME Churches across the state. Dr. Tucker, Dr. Cotler, other UF faculty, and the Community Advisory Board for the UF Health Disparities Research and Intervention Program are spearheading the first of its kind state-wide People's Scientific Conference to Promote Health and Eliminate Health Disparities, which will occur on June 14 and 15, 2013. The overall aim of this conference is to provide opportunities for community members, researchers, and health care providers to teach each other about interventions and strategies for promoting health and eliminating health disparities in Florida.

Although she is of African American heritage and actively promotes health and wellness among the African American community here in Gainesville, do not think that Dr. Tucker is dispassionate about the wellbeing of people from other backgrounds. She has actively promoted health among people from diverse backgrounds too numerous to list here. Moreover, she directs the two previously-mentioned research teams of culturally diverse UF students and members of the Gainesville community who help her implement various community programs. She serves as a model for the students on her research teams and hopes to engender in them a passion for cultural sensitivity and eliminating health disparities early in their careers. Dr. Tucker truly is a community- and student-focused woman with a “big brain and a big heart.”

Submitted by Manuel Thomas Lopez

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