Program Director

Dr. Desiree Rivers

Dr. Desiree Rivers possesses a B.S. degree in Psychology from Vanderbilt University, a MSPH degree in Health Care Organization and Policy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, and a PhD degree in Health Education from Texas A&M University.  She has more than 10 years of experience working with multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, medically underserved communities. Dr. Rivers has worked with rural Caucasian, Hispanic/Latino and African American populations in Alabama at the Jefferson County Health Department, in Texas at a Federally Qualified Health Center, and most recently in Florida at a Comprehensive Cancer Center. She helped develop, implement and evaluate clinical and community-based health education materials, programs and services for diverse populations of varying cultures and literacy levels.  Additionally, she has been responsible for patient education, community outreach, policy evaluation and advocacy.  Dr. Rivers’ research expertise includes qualitative and quantitative data collection, evaluation, and analysis.  To date, Dr. Rivers has conducted more than 20 scientific presentations and published 13 peer-reviewed articles. 

In 2007, Dr. Rivers was a behavioral oncology postdoctoral fellow at Moffitt Cancer Center. As a member of the research team of a National Cancer Institute-funded Patient Navigator Research Program (PNRP), Dr. Rivers conducted qualitative and quantitative research studying the multi-faceted barriers impeding medically underserved Floridians from accessing necessary preventive health services for breast and colorectal cancer.  Specifically Dr. Rivers’ research evaluated the factors that influence patient receipt of colorectal cancer screening and treatment services. Dr. Rivers’ research supported local and national advocacy efforts to establish a federal screening program; thereby, medically underserved Floridians at risk for colorectal cancer would gain access to needed services that improved their health outcomes and reduced cancer-related disparities in health and health care.  

Currently, Dr. Rivers is the Center Coordinator/Assistant Program Director for a National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities-funded Center of Excellence addressing cancer health disparities.  Dr. Rivers oversees the successful administration of the Center and is responsible for the day-to-day coordination of research, education, training, and community outreach.

Guided by her early personal and professional experiences, Dr. Rivers remains committed to addressing health inequities by continually pursuing professional development and civic engagement opportunities that hone her expertise in health policy, health education and promotion, and health disparities research and clinical practice while also participating in several local and national community partnerships.

Recent News

Awardees for the HERI Faculty Scholars Program

The Florida Health Equity Research Institute (HERI) is pleased to announce Dr. Hyochol Ahn and Dr. Tya Arthur have been selected as awardees for the HERI Faculty Scholars Program. Funded on a pilot basis by the Aetna Foundation, the HERI Faculty Scholars Program was established to help build capacity for health disparities research in Florida. Junior investigators, selected through a competitive process, establish collaborative partnerships with a senior investigator and community partner to develop career plans and research in line with the Florida Health Disparities Research Agenda - ..

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