Desiree Abu-Odeh 2019.jpeg

Desiree Abu-Odeh

PhD Candidate, Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University

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About Desiree

Abu-Odeh is a PhD Candidate at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health where she studies the history and ethics of public health. She has researched and written about public health responses to overweight and obesity, the history of U.S. drug policies and the history of responses to sexual violence on college campuses. Desiree has also taught courses in bioethics and U.S. health care policy.



"Social Constructions of Rape at Columbia University and Barnard College, 1955–90" (with Shamus Khan and Constance A. Nathanson). Social Science History 44, no. 2 (2020): 355-379.

Reveals the changing social constructions of campus rape as a public problem through a detailed examination of newspaper reporting on this issue as it unfolded at Columbia University and Barnard College between 1955 and 1990.

"Balancing Freedom of Conscience and Equitable Access" (with Wendy Chavkin, MD, Catherine Clune-Taylor, PhD, Sara Dubow, PhD, Michael Ferber, PhD, Ilan H. Meyer, and PhD). American Journal of Public Health 108, no. 11 (2018): 1487-1488.

Discusses the belief that it is possible—and necessary— to honor individual integrity and moral beliefs without harming those with different beliefs and values. Draws on those experiences and rights-based arguments to propose an alternative to the DHHS rule: a request for exemption from consequences of refusals to fulfill legal or professional duties should be accommodated only if it is not discriminatory and harms can be mitigated. 

"Fat Stigma and Public Health: A Theoretical Framework and Ethical Analysis" Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 24, no. 3 (2014): 247–265.

Describes the pitfalls of using stigma to pursue the public health goal of ending the “obesity epidemic.”