Tiffany L. Carson

Tiffany L. Carson

Tiffany L. Carson, PhD is an applied epidemiologist and an Assistant Professor in UAB’s Division of Preventive Medicine. The CaRES program played a key role along her career pathway that led her to this position.  In summer 2005, as a public health graduate student, Tiffany Cox completed a CaRES internship on obesity – a risk factor for several major cancers — under the guidance of Dr. Jamy Ard (then a UAB Associate Professor of Medicine; now a faculty member at Wake Forest University). In their study, “Evaluation of the Long-term Effects of the EatRight Program,” Tiffany, Dr. Ard, and their collaborators collected longitudinal follow-up data on former participants in the UAB EatRight Weight Management Program. They found that the successful weight maintainers did not meet physical activity recommendations, but maintained their weight loss primarily by consuming a lower calorie, low energy-dense diet. These findings are published in the journal Obesity. Tiffany’s CaRES experience made it clear to her that a career in obesity treatment and cancer prevention research was her passion and could become her life’s work.

Since 2005 Tiffany has researched obesity and cancer prevention from a number of different angles including psychosocial and behavioral risk factors, cultural tailoring of interventions, and most recently, bio-behavioral risk factors for obesity and cancer. As a doctoral student, .she received the prestigious NIH-funded Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award Fellowship for her dissertation research, “Examining the Association between Body Mass Index and Weight Related Quality of Life in Black and White Women.” In this study Tiffany collected cross-sectional data on 350 women to determine how weight affects quality of life in black versus white women. The findings of this study, published in Applied Research in Quality of Life, revealed that even at similar weights, white women reported greater impairment in weight-related quality of life than did black women. Tiffany also found that body image was a mediator in the relationship between weight and quality of life among black women. These results are published in the Journal of Women’s Health.

Tiffany (Cox) Carson and her Dissertation Committee, from left: Dr. Jamy Ard, Dr. Mark Beasley, Tiffany Cox, Dr. Olivia Affuso, and Dr. Jose Fernandez (not pictured, Dr. Virginia Howard)

In December 2010, Tiffany graduated from UAB’s PhD Program in Epidemiology (Olivia Affuso, PhD, Dissertation Chair) and then she accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences with Dr. Delia West, a former UAB faculty member who is nationally renowned for her behavioral intervention obesity research.  In 2012, Tiffany, along with her new last name of Carson, returned to Birmingham to join the UAB faculty in the Division of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine. Since returning to UAB, she has led several internally and NIH-funded studies examining the relationships among weight, race, stress, and microbiota, of black versus white women. She is currently funded by the National Cancer Institute (K01) to investigate the interplay of behavior, environment, and microbiota in colorectal cancer risk. And in a true “full circle” moment, Dr. Tiffany Carson served as a CaRES preceptor in summer 2014 and 2015.

What role did the CaRES program play in Dr. Carson’s professional development?  Tiffany will be the first to tell you that without her CaRES internship, her career trajectory would likely have been very different. The opportunities that CaRES gave her in her first “real world” research project — the opportunities to be creative, scholarly, and make an impact in the community — stimulated her interest in an academic research career. From her CaRES project through her current work, Dr. Carson has established a track record of conducting and publishing work that can make a meaningful contribution to the research literature on obesity and cancer, issues of great public health importance today.  The potential impact of this research is incalculable, and could lead to substantial reductions in cancer incidence and mortality.  Dr. Tiffany Carson’s research contributions in this area – past, present, and future – were ignited by the CaRES internship that she completed one summer ten years ago!

Tiffany (Cox) Carson presents a poster at the Obesity Society Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, 2009

Tiffany Carson is student-friendly and she is an excellent teacher and mentor.  She makes sound judgments and gives reliable advice.  If you have questions for Dr. Tiffany Carson or would like her guidance about your career path, please contact her at

Back to CaRES Spotlights Page