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History of the Transdisciplinary Center for Health Equity Research

The Transdisciplinary Center for Health Equity Research (formerly called the Center for the Study of Health Disparities) engages in a variety of research, education, service and community outreach activities related to the reduction and elimination of health disparities. The TCHER also contributes to the national research agenda related to health disparities and the existing as well as emerging health needs of ethnic minority groups and disadvantaged or vulnerable sub-groups of the population of all racial/ethnic identification.

Housed in the Department of Health and Kinesiology within the College of Education and Human Development of Texas A&M University, TCHER affiliates include faculty from other departments, schools, colleges, and institutes – all whom bring their expertise to the various activities of the center. The center builds successful research and training programs that are well integrated into the institution, state and local agencies, and other academic institutions, and communities.

In 2001, the Provost of Texas A&M designated Available University Funding (AUF) for the College of Education and Human Development to pursue a minority health research focus. The inaugural director, Dr. B. Lee Green, secured the center’s first major source of funding, recruited world-class scholars to join, and guided the center during its early stages. Dr. Green’s vision and leadership was critical in raising the center's national profile.

Upon Dr. Lee’s departure [1], Dr. Mary Shaw-Ridley was hired to serve as an Associate Professor of Health Education and Director of the center. Dr. Shaw-Ridley served as director from the fall of 2007 to the spring of 2012. Under her leadership, the center expanded its expertise to include mental health needs of under-served populations and focus on community-based health education initiatives.

In March of 2012, Dr. E. Lisako J McKyer was named the director of the center and began to make an immediate impact. She has organized a new external advisory board, recruited new student and faculty affiliates, moved to the Center's new location in the Blocker Building and pursued external funding. Additionally, Dr. McKyer evaluated the names of similar centers nationwide and consulted with leader's in the field. As a result, the chancellor of the Texas A&M University System approved a name change for the center in April of 2012 to the Transdisciplinary Center for Health Equity Research (TCHER).

The name change allows for the emphasis of three important aspects of the center's mission:

  1. A concerted effort toward health equity, which goes beyond studying health disparities;

  2. Transdisciplinary collaborations; 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.

As of August 2015, Dr. Idethia Shevon Harvey was named the new Director of TCHER. In August 2016, Dr. Tamika Gilreath joined TCHER, and January 2017, serves as TCHER Associate Director.

[1] Dr. Green was recruited by Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL and is Vice President of Moffitt Diversity and Professor of Health Outcomes and Behaviors.