J. Neil Henderson, PhD
J. Neil Henderson, PhD is a Choctaw Nation tribal member, born in southeast Oklahoma and raised in-and-around Oklahoma and Florida. Dr. Henderson’s 40+ years of professional work has always addressed prevention of disease, reduction of health disparities, and the building of healthier lives among the youth, adults, and elders in culturally diverse populations. In the more recent 30+ years, his attention focused on aging issues upon which he conducted extensive research on cultural influences on the recognition and treatment of diabetes and dementia, cultural constructions of disease, and community health interventions in the context of cultural diversity. He has conducted bio-cultural research on Alzheimer’s disease in American Indian tribes, developed Alzheimer’s support groups in African-American and Spanish-speaking populations, developed widely used dementia caregiver support tools designed for Native people, and conducted geriatric health care education for culturally diverse providers across the United States.
An early mentor was Dr. Eric Pfeiffer, director of the University of South Florida Suncoast Gerontology Center. At the Hudson College of Public Health, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, he led several American Indian initiatives, culminating as professor and principal investigator of a NIH-funded American Indian Diabetes Prevention Center. In 2016, Dr. Henderson accepted the position as founding Executive Director of the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team, from which he retired as Emeritus Professor.
Among Dr. Henderson’s many awards, he is honored for the Leadership in Prevention for Native Americans award by the Loma Linda University School of Public Health and the Award of Achievement by the University of Oklahoma, College of Public Health. Dr. Henderson is the former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology and past-President of the Association for Anthropology and Gerontology. He has authored many articles in the scientific press, is co-author of the text, Social and Behavioral Foundations of Public Health, and with Maria Vesperi is editor of The Culture of Long Term Care (1995). Dr. Henderson and his wife, Gail Wood Henderson, currently live in Oklahoma.