Tamsen Bassford, MD

Sonoran UCEDD
Department of Family and Community Medicine
University of Arizona
1521 E. Helen Street
Tucson, AZ 85721
Phone: 520-626-0442
Email: [email protected]
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Last Updated: May 21, 2021

Tamsen Bassford

Primary Activity Coordinators: Medical Director
Discipline Coordinators: Medicine
Project/Program/Clinic Contacts: Medical Home Director;
FCM Residency & Medical Student Education on DD;
MedCats for Developmental Medicine Advisor
Discipline(s): Health Administration
Education: General
AUCD Council Membership: No Council Membership
Research: model programs, primary care, preventive health
Education: Education of medical students and health sciences students, and training of family medicine residents and practicing physicians, in developmental medicine and best practices for in health care for adults with intellectual developmental disabilities.


Tamsen Bassford MD is a family medicine physician and Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson (UACOM-T). Dr. Bassford has 30 years of practice experience in the care of youth and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, and worked with Tucson community agencies in 1997 to successfully transition adults with IDD from an institutional setting to community-based living.

As department chair of DFCM, she obtained Arizona's second University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (SUCEDD) in 2006 and was its initial principal investigator.

Dr. Bassford directs the SUCEDD's Model Coordinated Primary Care Program for Adults with IDD at Banner University Medical Center South, and has presented nationally on this program's outcomes. Dr. Bassford received a Local Hero Award from the AADMD in 2013.

Dr. Bassford directs a required curriculum in developmental medicine for the DFCM's family medicine residency program, and leads the interprofessional exercise in disability for over 500 health science students annually. She is the PI of the University of Arizona site of the National Curriculum Initiative in Developmental Medicine.

Dr. Bassford has been a federally-funded researcher in women's health, with funded projects from NHLBI and NIDDK.


Prior to her current position, she served as Associate Dean for Student Affairs at the COM. In that role, she worked closely with the university's Disability Resource Center around issues of support to medical students with disabilities, and helped develop the COM's policies regarding student accessibility. She has served as the co-director of the COM's two year course in social and behavioral sciences, which provides didactic and experiential teaching in human development and developmental disabilities. She is a member of the Society for Teachers of Family Medicine Interest Group on Developmental Disabilities.

Dr. Bassford served as the primary care physician for adults with developmental disabilities living at the Arizona Training Program at Tucson. While there, she initiated the development of a course in healthy sexuality for her patients, and worked with a community based group of professionals and families to address the needs of aging caregivers of persons with disabilities. As opportunities and supports for community based living expanded, Dr Bassford assisted with the transition of her patients to residential settings more integrated into the community. She has continued to serve as the family physician for many adults with developmental disabilities, and receives patient referral statewide.

During her time as department head, Dr Bassford has worked to expand the departments', services to people with disabilities and their families, and to more fully integrate the department's activities in these areas into its teaching and research missions. In continued close collaboration with the Arizona State Division of Developmental Disabilities, she established DFCM's participation in the ICAT and worked with departmental faculty to develop a service-learning experience in disabilities for medical students at the departments Artworks program, and . In 2003 Dr. Bassford, with DDD, established the ROSA award, to recognize local health care professionals who provide exemplary care to people with developmental disabilities.

She is the Principal Investigator for the Arizona site of the Women's Health Initiative, a randomized clinical trial of three preventive interventions in postmenopausal women, a grant awarded by the National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute (NHLBI). Dr. Bassford is also the Principal Investigator for a cancer prevention education in medical curriculum grant awarded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). She developed the Mensajeras de Salud Project, a lay health education project directed at breast and cervical cancer in Hispanic women, which has operated for ten years in Tucson. She has served on the Mammography Advisory Panel of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, the FDA Mammography Advisory Committee, and the National Institute of Health (NIH) Consensus Panel on Osteoporosis.