Carson Tiffany PhD MPH
Dr. Tiffany L. Carson is an Assistant Professor the Division of Preventive Medicine in the UAB School of Medicine. She also holds appointments as an associate scientist in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC), the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC), and the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC). 

Dr. Carson is an applied epidemiologist with masters and doctoral degrees in epidemiology from the UAB School of Public Health. She also completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.    Dr. Carson’s current research focuses on identifying bio-behavioral contributors to health disparities of black and white women with a particular focus on how stress affects obesity and cancer disparities. Previous research indicates that black women report higher stress than white women. Given the deleterious physiologic and psychological effects of prolonged stress on health, racial differences in perceived stress may contribute to racial health disparities between black and white women.

Through supplement funding from the National Cancer Institute and several additional funded pilot studies, Dr. Carson is currently investigating the relationship between stress, race, weight, and the oral and gut microbiota of black and white women.  The microbiota has been implicated in increased risk for obesity and colorectal cancer. Thus, a better understanding of factors that affect the microbiota may provide novel areas for obesity and/or cancer risk reduction.

Dr. Carson’s recent work has included collecting survey data and bio-specimen samples for microbiome analysis from a racially diverse sample of women, many of whom are typically underrepresented in bio-specimen research.  She is hopeful about leading a multidisciplinary team of investigators in the further exploration of these topics in colorectal cancer patients and healthy controls via an NIH K01 application currently under review. Dr. Carson’s work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and been supported by NIH, UAB CCC, and UAB MHRC. 

ABSTRACT: Cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and underserved populations (e.g., blacks, rural, impoverished) bear a disproportionate burden. Bio-specimen collection is vital for the advancement of enhanced diagnostic, prevention, and treatment tools for cancer and other diseases. Challenges for recruitment of racial/ethnic minorities and rural populations into bio-specimen research are similar to ongoing challenges of recruiting this population into clinical trials despite a greater burden of cancer-related morbidity and mortality among these groups relative to their white and urban counterparts.

We describe lessons learned and best practices for collecting bio-specimens from a subsample of study participants. Engagement of community leaders/members to learn more about norms and acceptability prior to starting recruitment, full disclosure and opt-out option, live demonstration by a member of the local community, and assurance that participants would receive some feedback were key strategies for successfully meeting recruitment and bio-specimen collection goals among black women living in the rural Deep South.

Full Manuscript pdf