M.D. distinguished professor of public health, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona
Born to a poor immigrant family in New York City, Richard Carmona experienced homelessness, hunger, and health disparities during his youth. The experiences greatly sensitized him to the relationships among culture, health, education and economic status and ultimately shaped his future. After dropping out of high school, Dr. Carmona enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1967. By the time he left active duty, he was a Special Forces, combat-decorated Vietnam veteran. He then attended college, followed by medical school at the University of California – San Francisco, where he won the prestigious Gold Cane award. Dr. Carmona became a surgeon with a sub-specialty in trauma, burns and critical care and was recruited to Tucson to establish the first trauma system in southern Arizona which he did successfully. Later, while working full time as a hospital and health system CEO, he earned a master’s degree in public health policy and administration at the University of Arizona. In 2002 Dr. Carmona was nominated by the president and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate to become the 17th Surgeon General of the United States. After completing his statutory four-year term as Surgeon General in 2006, Dr. Carmona joined Tucson-based Canyon Ranch as vice chairman. He is president of the non-profit Canyon Ranch Institute and Distinguished Professor at the Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona.