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My Name Is

My Name Is: Dr. R. Dawn Comstock

Professor and county Public Health Department board member


About me

I grew up in Pueblo, where my dad was a steel worker. I’m a first generation college kid and did my undergrad studies at Colorado State University, where I studied microbiology.

My first job was at National Jewish Hospital’s microbiology lab, and from there I went on to get my master’s in epidemiology from the University of Iowa and my doctorate in public health epidemiology from the University of California San Diego/San Diego State University.

I grew up skiing and camping in the mountains — all the things you do as a Colorado kid.

My wife and I have two dogs and two cats. One of our dogs is an Australian shepherd, and we do dog agility work together. We actually qualified for the National Agility Championships in Reno and will be competing in March. I actually purchased some old horse property to put in our own agility field to practice.

A world of health care experience

I was accepted into the Centers for Disease Control’s Epidemic Intelligence Service two-year program, which is kind of like being a disease detective. I received a lot of hands-on experience and learned how to be a public health professional.

After that, I worked in Oklahoma and taught in Ohio, before getting the chance to come back home to Colorado at Anschutz.

So, I’ve been lucky enough to have experiences with public health departments and the academic side.

Joining the Jeffco health department

We’ve lived in Lakewood since 2013, and so I’ve been aware of what’s going on in our county and state, and I’ve always been impressed with the work I’ve seen the Jeffco department of health doing. With the recent elections, I felt driven to get involved and have some kind of positive impact. I didn’t want to run for an office, and given my knowledge and experience I figured the department of health would be a good place to help. I thought it was a group I would enjoy working with and wanted to make a difference.

People don’t realize how much of our daily lives are influenced by health departments. We do everything from inspecting restaurants to making sure we clean water by making sure our wells and waterways are protected.

There are also programs for pregnant women and children, we provide vaccinations for people who need them, and work with teens on substance abuse issues.

I’m looking forward to working with a broader health forum, and getting at a broader scope of public health in general.

The importance of public health work

The best thing about public health is that you get to make people’s lives better. Over time, problems facing a community can shift, but the health department is always there to help identify that problem and address it.

If you have suggestions for My Name Is ..., contact Clarke Reader at creader@coloradocommunitymedia.com.


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