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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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Science and Our Food Supply Careers: Arthur Liang, MD, MPH

Careers in Food Science Main Page

"Be patient with your career development. Remember, the slow and steady win the race."

Career Title:
Director, CDC Food Safety Initiative
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, Georgia

Fields of Expertise:
Preventive Medicine
Public Health Practice

Academic Studies:
Oberlin College
Oberlin, Ohio
Bachelor of Arts in Art History

University of Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland
Medical Doctor

University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii
Masters of Public Health in International Health and Epidemiology

Employment History:
Camp Counselor
(while in high school)

Math Tutor
(while in high school)

Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, Georgia

Director, Communicable Disease Division
Hawaii State Department of Health
Honolulu, Hawaii

Assistant Director for Science
Division of Public Health Systems
Public Health Practice Program Office
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, Georgia


"If I hadn't become an epidemiologist, I would have become . . . a clinician (a doctor who sees patients).


Q: What do you do in your current job?
I oversee planning and policies related to investigations of foodborne diseases in conjunction with FDA and USDA.

Q: What led you to your career?
My brother Matthew, a rheumatologist (a person who diagnoses and treats patients with arthritis) at Harvard Medical School, inspired me to pursue my studies in public health. He told me that there's so much research sitting on shelves that needs to be put into action. He urged me to apply what I learn from my own research and the wealth of research that others have done over the years.

Q: What's the most inspiring project you have ever worked on?
When I worked and lived in Hawaii, I worked with state legislators to obtain funds to start a Hepatitis B screening program for pregnant women. As a result of routine screening, it was estimated that we were able to prevent about 400 newborn babies from becoming chronically infected with this virus. This was also the first state screening program of its kind in the nation. Impacting the health of the public is one of the best parts of my job.

Q: What other subjects, besides science, are important for this field of study and why?
Political science is important because, in this field, you have to understand how the government system works and how society, scientists, and government develop health policies. Public health administration, management, and leadership skills are essential because you have to understand how organizations work in order to translate public health policies into public health services.

Last, but not least, you need to know something about social and behavioral science because you have to understand how people and communities work in order for public health services to lead to public health action by individuals and communities.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are interested in pursuing a career in science?
Write a list of things that interest you and from that list, select five things you enjoy most or have experience in. There are many ways to make a contribution to society, and you're most likely to do well in a field that you enjoy. Be flexible, and be patient with your career development. Remember, the slow and steady win the race. Also, expect that your interests will change as you change and the world changes. The sky is the limit, but the path does not have to be a straight line.



May 2001