Bioethics Blogs

LabTV: Curious About Improving American Indian Health

November is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, and so I can’t think of a better time to introduce you to Deana Around Him, a social and behavioral health researcher active in efforts to improve the health of infants and children in native communities. Deana is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, where she grew up with her mother and sisters after losing her father to a car accident when she was only 3 years old.

Deana’s father was a pharmacist, and, as a child, Deana thought that she would follow in his footsteps. But after participating in the National Youth Leadership Forum for Medicine one summer in high school, she set her sights instead on a career in medicine and made her way to Brown University, Providence, RI. Attending an Ivy League school was something she “never in her wildest dreams imagined” as a kid.

After college, Deana worked as a high school science teacher on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Many of her students lived in extreme poverty, and Deana said it became clear to her that the ones who succeeded in class had the strongest connections to their families, cultural values, and tribal traditions.

Deana started thinking about early life experiences and wanted to learn more about their impact on public health. So with a focus on this formative period of life, she went back to earn a master’s degree in public health from Harvard University, and later a doctoral degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.