Student Spotlight – Sheena Mukkada


Interview Questions:

smukkada_LThumb1.       Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH.

2.       What previous degrees and educational experiences have you earned?

I received my AB (BA in any other school!) from Brown University in biology back in 2005. I then got my MD from the University of Cincinnati before completing a residency in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. I’ve been a board certified pediatrician since 2013.

3.       Where do you work? 

I am currently a clinical fellow in Pediatric Infectious Diseases and split my service time between St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

4.       What got you interested in public health?

I have seen in the literature a tendency to pit public health against medicine. While I agree that the medical establishment does not always espouse the same policy positions as the public health establishment, as a physician I truly believe that the goals of medicine and public health are one and the same. By optimally treating enough individual patients, we build a healthy society. In pediatrics, because so much of what we do involves education of parents, we are always aware of the need to improve the environment in which our patients live.  It is therefore a logical next step to focus on how we create systems to keep children healthy at a more global level.

5.       Why did you choose our MPH program?

I have to admit that my reasons for choosing The University of Memphis were practical. U of M offered flexible learning options like night classes which have allowed me to continue my clinical career while still being a student. I learn better from classroom interactions so I valued the chance to show up in person and see people’s faces!

6.       What do you like most about our School of Public Health?

I like the fact that the population of students taking classes through SPH is a nice blend of different ages, life experiences, and different career paths. I have learned more from people’s stories about the lives they have lived and the directions they want to go than from classroom experiences. I also have loved the way that professors gone out of their way to accommodate my often crazy work schedule so that I have been able to stay on target with my classes without getting fired!

7.       How would you like to apply your MPH degree to your future goals and career?

As an MD, I am asked every day to make decisions about my practice based on data drawn from the medical literature. Through the coursework involved with the MPH, I intend to gain the skillset to critically evaluate this literature  in order to determine how it really applies to my patient population. In addition, as part of my academic career, I intend to continue designing and implementing clinical research studies. The skill sets I gain through MPH coursework should enable me to ask intelligent questions about study design and analysis to build stronger studies and conclusions.

8.       What are you passionate about?

Professionally, I am most passionate about developing and testing interventions to treat and prevent infections in setting with limited resources. In my life before St. Jude, I was particularly interested in tuberculosis, and I still love that disease because of its complicated medical and social ramifications. I had the opportunity to work for a year in Kampala, Uganda for the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics conducting studies of new tuberculosis diagnostic tests and would have loved to continue that.  As my husband is a pediatric hematology-oncology fellow, that has forced some career modifications, so I’ve redirected my energies into trying to devise and validate best practices for infection care and prevention in pediatric oncology patients being treated at St. Jude partner sites throughout the world. My goal is to build models based on the experience of individual sites which we can then share with other sites to prevent them making avoidable mistakes while caring for children with cancer.

9.     What are your hobbies/interests?

My husband and I share a genetically predetermined love of cooking, and it is one of our favorite activities together. I especially love to bake bread, but admittedly haven’t had the time for it since starting the MPH. I haven’t gotten to discover as much of the outdoor area surrounding Memphis as I would like, but what brings me the most joy in life is the ability to walk around in the fresh air. Oddly, this is one thing I miss most about Los Angeles-we used to live right down the street from Griffith Park and we used to be able to go to Malibu on weekends to hike in the Santa Monica Mountains.  I’m not a runner, but I can happily walk for miles. I’m an evil person if I don’t get to the gym at least 5 times a week!

August – National Immunization Awareness Month

What are vaccinations? How do they work?

What are the current vaccine-preventable diseases?

  • Anthrax
  • Cervical cancer
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A & B
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV)
  • H1N1 Flue (Swine Flue)
  • Influenza (Seasonal Flu)
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Lyme disease
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal
  • Monkeypox
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis (Whooping cough)
  • Pneumococcal
  • Poliomyelitis (Polio)
  • Rabies
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella (German Measles)
  • Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
  • Smallpox
  • Tetanus (Lockjaw)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Varicella (Chicken Pox)
  • Yellow Fever


When should children and adults receive vaccinations?

Vaccine Recommendations


Adult Vaccination Schedule


Why are vaccines important?

Herd Immunity Explained

Are vaccines effective? How do vaccines save lives?

Vaccine Efficacy

Author: Lisa Wang