Joseph D. Tucker

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Joseph D. Tucker
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CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • BA
  • M.D. degree
  • PhD in public health
Alma mater
  • Swarthmore College
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of California San Francisco
  • Physician
  • Researcher
Known forKnown as the founder of SESH

Joseph D. Tucker is an American physician researcher who has made substantial contributions to crowdsourcing and open innovation related to medicine and public health. He is best known as the founder of SESH, a partnership that leverages crowd wisdom to develop public health interventions and community engagement practices. He led the development of a World Health Organization Practical Guide on Crowdsourcing in Health and Health Research. Tucker is a tenured Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.


Tucker graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, North Carolina and then earned a bachelors of arts degree from Swarthmore College. He received his M.D. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and did internal medicine training at the University of California San Francisco. He completed an infectious diseases fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and an A.M. in Regional Studies East Asia at Harvard University. Tucker did a PhD in public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine supervised by Professors Rosanna Peeling and Heidi Larson. Tucker was an instructor at Harvard Medical School until joining UNC Chapel Hill as Assistant Professor in 2012.


Tucker helped to define the substantial burden of syphilis in China. A series of articles, including one in the New England Journal of Medicine, helped to demonstrate that syphilis was common among many groups, including pregnant women.[1][2] Subsequent policy research suggested that his New England Journal of Medicine article helped catalyze China's national syphilis screening program.

Tucker's research group examines how crowdsourcing approaches such as open contests and hackathons can be used for medical and public health purposes.[3] Tucker has led several randomized controlled trials showing that crowdsourcing can enhance HIV test uptake. As part of this research, he adapted the hackathon methodology to design health interventions, called a designathon. This crowdsourcing research has led to similar crowdsourcing projects in Nigeria (in partnership with 4YouthByYouth), the United States,[4] Vietnam, and globally.[5] In addition, Tucker has used crowdsourcing methods to develop pay-it-forward approaches for health. Pay-it-forward has an individual receive a free gift and then decided whether they would like to support other people to receive the same gift. The research team led by Tucker showed that pay-it-forward could be used to increase gonorrhea and chlamydia testing among sexual minorities.[6] [7]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tucker helped to organize a crowdsourcing open call to inform the fall semester at UNC Chapel Hill called the Carolina Collective. This project brought together students, faculty and staff to identify community-based solutions related to COVID-19.


Tucker's crowdsourcing research was identified by TDR in 2017 as one of the top global innovations.[8] The pay-it-forward research was recognized at the 2018 World Health Summit,[9] the 2019 UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange,[10], and the 2020 World Health Organization Re-Boot Challenge.[11]

In the media



  1. Tucker, Joseph D.; Chen, Xiang-Sheng; Peeling, Rosanna W. (6 May 2010). "Syphilis and Social Upheaval in China" (PDF). New England Journal of Medicine. 362 (18): 1658–1661. doi:10.1056/NEJMp0911149. PMID 20445179.
  2. Tucker, Joseph D; Cohen, Myron S (February 2011). "Chinaʼs syphilis epidemic: epidemiology, proximate determinants of spread, and control responses". Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases. 24 (1): 50–55. doi:10.1097/QCO.0b013e32834204bf. PMC 3103765. PMID 21150594.
  3. Wang, Cheng; Han, Larry; Stein, Gabriella; Day, Suzanne; Bien-Gund, Cedric; Mathews, Allison; Ong, Jason J.; Zhao, Pei-Zhen; Wei, Shu-Fang; Walker, Jennifer; Chou, Roger; Lee, Amy; Chen, Angela; Bayus, Barry; Tucker, Joseph D. (December 2020). "Crowdsourcing in health and medical research: a systematic review". Infectious Diseases of Poverty. 9 (1): 8. doi:10.1186/s40249-020-0622-9. PMC 6971908. PMID 31959234.
  4. Day, Suzanne; Mathews, Allison; Blumberg, Meredith; Vu, Thi; Mason, Hailey; Rennie, Stuart; Kuruc, JoAnne D.; Gay, Cynthia L.; Margolis, David M.; Tucker, Joseph D. (1 July 2020). "Expanding community engagement in HIV clinical trials: a pilot study using crowdsourcing". AIDS. 34 (8): 1195–1204. doi:10.1097/QAD.0000000000002534.
  5. Liu, Ewen; Iwelunmor, Juliet; Gabagaya, Grace; Anyasi, Helen; Leyton, Alejandra; Goraleski, Karen A.; Wei, Shufang; del Barrio, Mariam Otmani; Olaleye, Atinuke; Launois, Pascal; Tucker, Joseph D. (December 2020). "'When she rises, we all rise': a crowdsourcing challenge to increase women's participation in an infectious diseases research fellowship". BMC Infectious Diseases. 20 (1): 715. doi:10.1186/s12879-020-05433-5.
  6. Li, Katherine T; Tang, Weiming; Wu, Dan; Huang, Wenting; Wu, Feng; Lee, Amy; Feng, Henry; Pan, Stephen W; Han, Larry; Mak, Vincent; Yang, Ligang; Tucker, Joseph D (January 2019). "Pay-it-forward strategy to enhance uptake of dual gonorrhea and chlamydia testing among men who have sex with men in China: a pragmatic, quasi-experimental study". The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 19 (1): 76–82. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(18)30556-5. PMC 6347395. PMID 30587296.
  7. Yang, Fan; Zhang, Tiange P; Tang, Weiming; Ong, Jason J; Alexander, Marcus; Forastiere, Laura; Kumar, Navin; Li, Katherine T; Zou, Fei; Yang, Ligang; Mi, Guodong; Wang, Yehua; Huang, Wenting; Lee, Amy; Zhu, Weizan; Luo, Danyang; Vickerman, Peter; Wu, Dan; Yang, Bin; Christakis, Nicholas A; Tucker, Joseph D (August 2020). "Pay-it-forward gonorrhoea and chlamydia testing among men who have sex with men in China: a randomised controlled trial". The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 20 (8): 976–982. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30172-9.
  8. WHO/TDR. "Social innovation in health: case studies and lessons learned from low- and middle-income countries". TDR. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  9. "who" (PDF).
  10. UNAIDS. "who". Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  11. WHO. "who".

External links

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