Debra Liu

Master of Science in Public Health candidate

A.B. Genetics, Cell & Developmental Biology, Dartmouth College
A.B. Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Dartmouth College

United States

International Health Human Nutrition

What are your career goals?

A career in public health nutrition blends my interests – science, food, and interacting with people – in perfect harmony. A graduate degree will provide me with a strong foundation in order to be a research scientist at the forefront of understanding nutrition and disease, to be a public health professional involved in the community by developing chronic disease prevention programs with a focus on cancer and diabetes, as well as to find and implement solutions to problems of access in rural areas abroad where there exists malnutrition and other health issues due to inadequate nutrition.

What sparked your interest in global health?

My interest in public health has been repeatedly sparked at different intervals in my life. In high school, I was an officer on the Nutritional Council where I was first exposed to developing policies and enacting changes for the betterment of a population. Another spark ignited when I was working in a laboratory studying cancer. The more I learned and studied about cancer, the more I realized how just like diabetes and obesity, it was preventable through adjustments in environment, diet and lifestyle and that those modifications had to be made at the public health level. However, it was the most recent spark that led me to want to pursue a graduate degree in public health; when I was volunteering in rural mountain villages in Peru, I witnessed first hand the health disparities that exist between the villagers with diseases that are entirely preventable through public health endeavors, and those living in the cities who have access to food and care.

How do you see yourself making a difference in public health because of the Global Health Scholarship?

The Global Health Scholarship will provide with the opportunity to gain knowledge of public health and to use my skills to make a positive impact. I want to acquire a deeper understanding of public health and nutrition, to be involved in research and apply what I learn and discover to improve health in America and abroad. In the future, I see myself not only as a scientist, but also a leader in public health working with communities to prevent illness and improve access to real and fulfilling food. In addition, I want to be involved in spearheading a platform that bridges the gap between doctors, dietitians, and the community. Dietitians and doctors are both working towards the same goal: to help people lead healthier lives. There is currently a great deal of information on what healthy eating is, but unfortunately, the information available is either contradictory or overwhelming. Therefore, it is up to dietitians, doctors, and research scientists to communicate, educate one another, and work together to supply the public with reliable information. I think providing an online community for that collaboration would be beneficial in our fight against the many chronic diseases plaguing our society. 

Who inspires you and why?

I am inspired by Dr. William Li, who is a cancer researcher and President of the Angiogenesis Foundation. His scientific innovation, brilliance and passion for creating a healthier world can be seen in the work and mission of his organization: to transform public health in the 21st century through the benefits of angiogenesis-based therapies. He believes that the food we eat can help prevent the growth of blood vessels that feed cancer and plans to develop a cancer-fighting food guideline, an important effort with which I would like to be involved in someday. 


Noreen Hynes, MD MPH

Director, Geographic Medicine Center of the Division of Infectious Diseases

Robert Bollinger Jr., MD MPH

Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Clinical Global Health Education (CCGHE); Associate Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Global...

Caitlin Kennedy, PhD MPH,BA

Co-Director, MPH concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health; Associate Director, Center for Qualitative...

Stefan Baral, MD MPH,MBA,MSc

Director, Key Populations Program

Yukari C. Manabe, MD

Associate Director of Global Health Research and Innovation

Joanne Katz, ScD MS,BSc

Associate Chair, Director of Academic Programs

April 2020



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