UF health disparities researcher presents inaugural lecture for Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs

The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs honored its first featured speaker, a University of Florida pharmacy researcher in health care disparities, in initiation of the annual Dr. Barbara Terry-Koroma Legacy Lecture series.

Folakemi T. Odedina, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy and associate director of health disparities for the UF Health Cancer Center, accepted the award in December at Fort Detrick, MD.

The lecture marked a culmination of tributes made throughout the year in honor of the late Dr. Barbara Terry-Koroma, CDMRP program manager and her 15 years of service.

“This lecture is important because Barbara was very committed to what she did as a program manager for several military programs over the years and also as the program manager for the minority and underserved populations program,” said CDMRP science officer Dr. Theresa Miller, in her opening remarks.

Odedina presented the inaugural lecture titled, “Addressing Prostate Health Disparities: The Core Elements.” Odedina began her presentation saying that Terry-Koroma was a visionary leader. She shared with the audience that a true leader is one who influences those around them.

Photo by Stan Niu: Professor Odedina presents the inaugural lecture of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs at Fort Detrick, MD.
Photo by Stan Niu: Professor Odedina presents the inaugural lecture of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs at Fort Detrick, MD.

“As a new investigator, the Department of Defense allowed me to be truly innovative. Barbara helped me jump start my career and make a lasting effect,” said Odedina. “We need to continue Barbara’s fight to eliminate disparities,” she concluded.

In her presentation, Odedina discussed the burden of prostate cancer in black men. She relayed the work she and others conducted to trace the roots of prostate health disparities and methods underway to address those inequities including community outreach, research and education.

Throughout her discussion, Odedina frequently referred to her “BTK Recommendations,” which she noted were salient points Terry-Koroma had emphasized in her own work which she, in turn, had adopted. These recommendations highlighted the importance of consumer advocacy; the need to address factors impacting disadvantaged populations; and mentoring the next generation of health disparities researchers.

Terry-Koroma, who died Jan 2013, joined the CDMRP in January 1998 where she served as a special populations program manager, helping to develop new research funding mechanisms that incorporated the talents and resources of minority institutions in addressing cancer health disparities.

“Barbara believed in excellence. Inspired by the military personnel she interacted with, she knew that although they might have been impacted by injuries during their service they didn’t make excuses — so she didn’t make excuses in her work,” said Miller.

Over her career at CDMRP, Terry-Koroma managed seven programs totaling more than $1 billion in research funding. Her efforts were instrumental in finding and funding innovative research critical to the medical needs of service members and their families.