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Debra Haire-Joshu

Joyce Wood Professor
Director, Center for Diabetes Translation Research
Director, Center for Obesity Prevention and Policy Research
Faculty Director for the Envolve Center for Health Behavior Change​
PhD, Saint Louis University
Photo of Debra Haire-Joshu

Phone: 314-935-3963


Research interests:

Health policy

Preventing obesity and diabetes in underserved populations

Transdisciplinary approaches to biomedical, behavioral, and public health research​​​


Professor Haire-Joshu is an internationally renowned scholar of health behavior who develops population-wide interventions to reduce obesity and prevent diabetes, particularly among underserved women and children.

Dr. Haire-Joshu holds a joint appointment in the Washington University School of Medicine, and directs both the Center for Obesity Prevention and Policy Research (COPPR) and the Washington University Center for Diabetes Translation Research (WU-CDTR).  COPPR aims to discover and integrate new science into policies designed to prevent obesity. The WU-CDTR, funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, is working to eliminate the root causes of obesity and disparities in Type 2 diabetes within diverse populations and serves as a resource to academic and national organizations to support underrepresented groups and disciplines conducting translation research. Dr. Haire-Joshu also currently serves as a faculty director for the Envolve Center for Health Behavior Change, an industry-academic research collaboration between the Brown School, Duke University, and Centene Corporation that tests, implements, and evaluates behavior-based interventions in real-world settings for better health. 

Dr. Haire-Joshu’s research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Missouri Foundation for Health, and the Kansas Foundation for Health, and Centene Corporation, among others. Her studies include testing interventions to prevent excessive weight gain among pregnant and postpartum women, and translation of evidence-based obesity and diabetes prevention approaches for mothers of preschool children through national parenting organizations. Her work includes the development of a model state-wide database for evaluating nutrition and physical activity policies in Missouri; a system that is now being disseminated to other states across the country.

Dr. Haire-Joshu served as a Health Policy Fellow for then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama and as a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions under the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. She worked with senior staff of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in framing policy priorities for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to reverse the trend of childhood obesity. Dr. Haire-Joshu served as a member of the Institute of Medicine committee addressing childhood obesity and is a Distinguished Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. She is also a member of Delta Omega, the honorary society in public health. She has published and presented her research extensively, served on multiple research review groups and as a reviewer for numerous professional journals.


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