April 17, 2012
The Center for the Study of Health Disparities (CSHD) has undergone a whirlwind of changes recently. Changes within the past several months include new leadership, a new external advisory board, new faculty and student affiliates, new space (in Blocker) as well as organizational changes. A critical one however, is the recent approval of a name change for the center.
Chancellor Sharp has approved changing the name of the CSHD to the Transdisciplinary Center for Health Equity Research (TCHER).
Dr. McKyer and her leadership team consulted with directors of other similar centers and found that nearly all were housed in schools of medicine, allied health (e.g., nursing, social work), or in government agencies and departments. Texas A&M University's center is the only one of its type that is housed within a College of Education. According to Dr. McKyer “…that makes the new acronym - TCHER - particularly appropriate!".
The name change also emphasizes three important aspects of the center's mission: 1.) a concerted effort toward health equity, which goes beyond studying health disparities; 2.) transdisciplinary collaborations used; and, 3.) research as a critical tool toward achievement of health equity. Center director, Dr. Lisako McKyer, believes that the new name better reflects the paradigm shift in disparities research and programmatic efforts.
TCHER has obtained commitments from reknown scholars and entrepreneurs to serve as external and special advisory board members. These include health disparities/equity content experts: 1.) Dr. B. Lee Green who serves as vice President of Moffitt Diversity and Professor, Health Outcomes and Behavior at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute; and, 2.) Dr. Lovell Jones who is the director of the Center for Health Equity and Evaluation Research (CHEER) at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MD Anderson), and Director of the Reproductive Biology Program for the Graduate School for Biomedical Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center - Houston, and Professor in the Department of Health Disparities Research, MD Anderson.
To facilitate TCHER's efforts to explore business and entrepreneurial application to leverage the content and skills of the CSHD to generate new revenue streams, the center obtained commitments from two successful entrepreneurs. Dr. Jim Eddy who serves as Director, Office of Academic Outreach, University of North Carolina Greensboro is reknown for harnessing technology to generate revenue. Finally, the TCHER will have access to board member Mr. Carl Tisone, who is the founder and CEO of one of the world's most largest and most successful Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider - PPC Worldwide. His expertise will enable TCHER to generate research and program funding from private industry and other non-traditional sources.
Dr. McKyer is confident that the changes are and will remain positive, and hopes to unveil the new website soon. She credits her team, as well as the outpouring of support from faculty within the department and from all around campus for the center's ability to adjust to the rapid pace of change and growth. New inaugural faculty affiliates include several Regents Professors, and faculty representing several departments across colleges (e.g., Liberal Arts, Agriculture, Architecture, Rural School of Public Health).