"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, October 20, 2014

32. Denys T. Lau

Washington, DC · Arts and Sciences

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
I am Deputy Director of the Division of Health Care Statistics at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, the Nation's principal health statistics agency. I have an adjunct associate professor appointment at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC), College of Pharmacy, where I was full-time associate professor before joining the CDC.   I am on the editorial board of the American Journal of Public Health, the official peer-review publication of the American Public Health Association. A former NIH-funded investigator, I published over 50 peer-reviewed publications and research reports examining quality and safety of health services use in older adults. I have a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a B.A. with distinction from Cornell University. I completed a Pfizer post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan, Schools of Medicine and Public Health, and finished a certificate program in management at Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management.  

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

My favorite memories at Cornell were when I was living at the Holland International Living Center (ILC) then in north campus Low-Rise 8.  This was the premier residential college for students from all over world and those interested in learning about world cultural, political, economic and social issues. We celebrated our microcosm of diversity through potlucks, theme parties, outings, and just hanging out with each other in community lounges. After all these years, I remain in close contact with many fellow ILC'ers who are now living all over the world; well Facebook also helps.  

How has your time at Cornell influenced you since you graduated?

During the first semester of my junior year, I did the Cornell-in-Washington program, which solidified my decision to choose public health as my career. Under the guidance of Dr. Steven Jackson, the former Associate Director, I conducted a study evaluating the DC Needle Exchange Program, a groundbreaking initiative aimed to curb HIV transmission among injection drug users. I also interned at the U.S. Conference on Mayors where I helped track the legislation of President Clinton's health care reform bill and studied its relevance to local municipalities.  The highlight for me was meeting Hillary Clinton and Donna Shalala at congressional hearings.

If you could change anything about your Cornell experience, what would it be?

I wish I explored more what Ithaca had to offer when I was a student.  A recent report from The American Institute of Economic Research - published in the Business Insider - has ranked Ithaca the #1 college town in the U.S. based on the academic environment, quality of life, and professional opportunity.  I loved hanging out in Collegetown, the Commons, its numerous gorges, Collegetown, Moosewood, and Stella, just to name a few of my favorite things about Ithaca.