Jianghong Liu, PhD, RN, FAAN

Jianghong Liu, PhD, RN, FAAN

Professor of Nursing

Marjorie O. Rendell Endowed Professor in Healthy Transitions

Faculty director of Global Health Minor, School of Nursing

Dr. Jianghong Liu leverages her expertise in nursing, psychology, epidemiology, and environmental health to investigate the intricate interplay of health factors on cognitive, sleep, and behavioral outcomes throughout the lifespan. Such factors include nutrition, environmental exposure, and psychosocial factors. Her research is dedicated to identifying and addressing risk factors through interventions that span across the entire spectrum of human development, and understanding the underlying mechanisms. She conducts research in the community setting, implementing prevention and intervention strategies aimed at improving cognitive and behavioral health outcomes.

Dr. Liu’s programs of research include her NIH-funded China Jintan Cohort Study, investigating the impact of early health factors on later cognitive and behavioral outcomes. She also leads the follow-up study of the original Philadelphia’s Healthy Brain and Behavior Study which studies early biological, environmental, and social factors on later behavioral development and health outcomes.

More recently, Dr. Liu’s research focuses on prevention and intervention in the community. This includes implementing a community-based culturally tailored exercise among older immigrants in Philadelphia, aiming to bridge the health disparities experienced by this marginalized minority population, and focusing on the prevention of cognitive decline, MCI, and dementia. Overall, her research goal is to shape policy, practice, and education to improve the health and well-being of individuals across the lifespan.

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.


  • PhD, University of California at Los Angeles, 2002
  • MN, University of California at Los Angeles, 1993

Social Justice

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 her current study, Dr. Liu aimed to promote the culturally tailored community exercise to improve health outcomes of older Chinese immigrants as a way to bridge the gaps in their healthcare and promote holistic wellness.


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 currently teaches Penn Global Seminar Explore Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Foundations of Global Health.


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 individuals, why this occurs, and what measures we can take to enhance development, as well as brain mechanisms. Her research also involves randomized controlled trials (RCTs), which investigate Omega-3 Fatty Acid effects on both children’s and adults’ behavior outcomes.

More recently, Dr. Liu has initiated studies that involve the integration of community-based culturally tailored exercises within the older Chinese immigrant community residing in Philadelphia, understanding the effects of community exercise on the older adults’ overall health, sleep, and cognitive function, aiming to bridge the health disparities experienced by the immigrant population.

Dr. Liu’s research findings have been disseminated in more than 190 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).

Dr. Liu accepts PhD and post-doc students to work on a number of projects, including children, adolescents, and older adults, on cognitive and behavioral outcomes.

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

  • Sigma, International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame
  • 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. 

Accepting Mentees?

  • Yes

Accepting Fellows?

  • Yes

Featured Publications

  • Liu, J., Yang, Y., Li, C., Perez, A., Raine, A., Shi, H., & Zou, L. (2024). Effects of Mind-Body Qigong Exercise on Overall Health, Fatigue/Sleep, and Cognition in Older Chinese Immigrants in the US: An Intervention Study with Control. Journal of Aging Research, 2024.

  • 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., Lee, C. M., An, Y., Sun, Q., Mei, H., Shi, S., … & Rao, H. (2022). Application of the Older Adult Self-Report and Older Adult Behavior Checklist to Chinese Older Adults: Syndrome Structure and Inter-Informant Agreement. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 48(8), 26-32.

  • 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.

  • *Cui, N., Raine, A., Connolly, C.A., Richmond, T.S., Hanlon, A., McDonald C.C., Liu, J. (2021). P300 Event-related potentials mediate the relationship between child physical abuse and externalizing behaviors. Frontiers in Psychology. Doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.720094 

  • Liu, J., Kowal, I., Yang, Y., Zhu, Y., Chen, S., Perez, A., … & Group, C. O. A. Q. E. (2023). Culturally tailored group Qigong exercise in older Chinese immigrants: A feasibility study. Geriatric Nursing, 51, 245-252.

  • Halabicky, O. M., Pinto-Martin, J. A., Compton, P., & Liu, J. (2022). Early childhood lead exposure and adolescent heart rate variability: A longitudinal cohort study. Environmental research, 205, 112551.

  • Zhang, Q., Sun, M. A., Sun, Q., Mei, H., Rao, H., & Liu, J. (2023). Mental Fatigue Is Associated with Subjective Cognitive Decline among Older Adults. Brain Sciences, 13(3), 376.

  • Liu, J., Shi, H., & Lee, T. M. (2023). Qigong Exercise and Cognitive Function in Brain Imaging Studies: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials in Healthy and Cognitively Impaired Populations. Brain Behavior and Immunity Integrative, 100016.

  • Liu, J., Li, S., Yan, X., Li, J., Sun, Q., Mei, H., & Rao, H. (2023). Social Connection and Lifestyle Factors Associated With Happiness in Urban Older Adults in China: A Cross-Sectional Study With a Community Sample. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 16(3), 147-160.

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