Jianghong Liu, PhD, RN, FAAN
Jianghong Liu uses her training in maternal-child nursing, environmental health, and psychology to explore early health factors that affect children and adolescent’s cognitive and emotional/behavioral development. Her research integrates population-based epidemiological analyses with laboratory tests of cognition and psychophysiology to understand the mechanisms driving behaviors and emotions.
Dr. Liu is currently leading a team on several projects, both in the U.S. and internationally. As director of the NIH-funded China Jintan Child Health Project, Dr. Liu is following more than 1,000 children in Jintan city, China from pre-school into adolescence to understand the influence of exposure to environmental lead, nutrition, and psychosocial factors on their behavior. Dr. Liu also leads the follow-up study of the original, Philadelphia’s Healthy Brain and Behavior Study which studied 450 community children in 2010, and continued following up recently to study early biological, environmental, and social factors on adolescent’s behavior development and health outcomes. Her research goal is to shape policy, practice, and education to improve children’s and adolescent’s health and well-being.
“My research shines light on health issues that public health systems can address and provides practical solutions for families to improve well-being of children and adolescents.”
- Post-Doc in Psychology, University of Southern California, 2002-2006
- PhD, University of California at Los Angeles, 2002
- MN, University of California at Los Angeles, 1993
In Dr. Liu’s research, she has found that sociodemographic factors, such as race and social adversity, contribute to the relationship between environmental lead exposure and child health outcomes. Examining these factors may potentially make a difference in eliminating lead as an environmental justice concern.
In the global health course that she teaches, students explore disparities in global health based on income, race, class, and other sociodemographic factors. They learn about the underlying causes of such disparities, as well as the interventions taken to mitigate these disparities.
Dr. Liu mentors and advises doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate nursing students as well as students studying across multiple majors, including medicine, public health, education, business, engineering, and visiting scholars from China. A strong believer in “learning by doing,” she involves her mentees in all aspects of her work: research design, data collection, manuscript development, grant writing, conducting literature searches/synthesizing, and cleaning and analyzing data. Dr. Liu encourages her mentees to advance their research careers by co-authoring papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
Dr. Liu teaches Penn Global Seminar Explore Traditional Chinese Medicine in Fall 2018, which includes a two-week trip to China.
Supported by the National Institution of Health, Dr. Liu’s research helps our understanding of how early health risk and protective factors impact emotional and behavioral development in children and adolescents, why this occurs, and what measures we can take to enhance development. Factors include prenatal/postnatal risk factors (e.g. birth complications, prenatal stress, prenatal toxin exposure), early nutrition, environmental toxicity (e.g. lead and tobacco exposure) and sleep deprivation. She is particularly interested in how brain mechanisms influence early health factors and later behavior outcomes, as well as protective factors (e.g. breast feeding, early bonding) that improve resilience in children and adolescents.
Her current research, funded by NICHD/NIH, investigates Omega-3 Fatty Acid effects on children’s behavior outcomes.
Dr. Liu’s research findings have been disseminated in more than 160 peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters in top journals in multiple disciplines, including Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Epidemiology, and Nursing (e.g. in the American Journal of Psychiatry, JAMA Pediatrics, International Journal Epidemiology, Sleep and International Journal of Nursing Studies).
Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing
Dr. Liu joined Penn Nursing in 2007, drawn by the Penn Compact, which emphasizes integrative knowledge and engagement on a global, national, and local scale. She was also attracted by Penn’s layout, which houses all departments on one campus, thereby facilitating interdisciplinary teaching and research. As a faculty member in the Master of Public Health program and an investigator with the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, both at the School of Medicine, Dr. Liu regularly collaborates with colleagues from disciplines including environmental health, psychology, and neuroscience. In addition to publishing her research in nursing journals, Dr. Liu advances inter-disciplinary collaboration by publishing in top-ranked medical journals.
Selected Career Highlights
- Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
- NIH Independent Scientist Award
- Trustees Council of Penn Women Award for Undergraduate Advising
- Dean’s Teaching Award for Undergraduate Scholarly Mentorship, University of
Pennsylvania School of Nursing
- Barbara J. Lowery Doctoral Student Organization (DSO) Faculty Award for Mentorship
- Senior Fellow, Penn Center of Public Health Initiatives
- Senior Fellow, Robert A. Fox Leadership Program
- Research widely recognized internationally by both academics and the general public for its potential implications for the promotion of children’s well-being in the community.
Liu, J., Potter, T., & Zahner, S. (2020). Policy brief on climate change and mental health/well-being. Nursing Outlook, 68(4), 517-522.
Liu, J., Wu, T., Liu, Q., Wu, S., & Chen, J. C. (2020). Air pollution exposure and adverse sleep health across the life course: A systematic review. Environmental Pollution, 114263.
Liu, J., Ji, X., Wang, G., Li, Y., Leung, PW., Pinto-Martin, J. (2020). Maternal emotions during the pre/postnatal periods and children’s sleep behaviors: the mediating role of children’s behavior. Journal of Affective Disorders.
Liu, J., Feng, R., Ji, X., Cui, N., Raine, A., & Mednick, S. C. (2019). Midday napping in children: associations between nap frequency and duration across cognitive, positive psychological well-being, behavioral, and metabolic health outcomes. Sleep, 42(9).
Shi, Z., El-Obeid, T., Riley, M., Li, M., Page, A., & Liu, J. (2019). High Chili Intake and Cognitive Function among 4582 Adults: An Open Cohort Study over 15 Years. Nutrients, 11(5), 1183.
Cui, N., Xue, J., Connolly, C. A., & Liu, J. (2016). Does the gender of parent or child matter in child maltreatment in China?. Child Abuse and Neglect, 54, 42378.S0145-2134(16)00005-3. PMID: 26826981
Liu, J., Cao, S., Chen, Z., Raine, A., Hanlon, A., Ai, Y., Zhou, G., Yan, C., Leung, P., McCauley, L., & Pinto-Martin, J. (2015). Cohort profile update: The China Jintan child cohort study. International Journal of Epidemiology, [Epub ahead of print], 1-13. (PMID: 26323725).10.1093/ije/dyv119
Liu, J., Liu, X., Pak, V., Wang, Y., Yan, C., Pinto-Martin, J., & Dinges, D. (2015). Early blood lead levels and sleep disturbance in preadolescence. Sleep, 38(12), 1869-1874. PMID: 26194570.
Liu, J., Liu, X., Wang, W., McCauley, L., Pinto-Martin, J., Wang, Y., Li, L., Yan, C., & Rogan, W.J. (2014). Blood lead concentrations and children’s behavioral and emotional problems: A cohort study. JAMA Pediatrics, 168(8), 737-745.
- Liu, J., Raine, A., Venables, P., & Mednick, S.A. (2004). Malnutrition at age 3 years predisposes to externalizing behavior problems at ages 8, 11 and 17 years. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 2005-2013.