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Sommer Scholars

Chao Long

  • Country of Origin: China
  • MPH Student

CLOSING THE SURGICAL GAP

Born in China to physician parents, Chao Long, a plastic and reconstructive surgery resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital, immigrated to the U.S. when she was seven. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Penn., she began to notice distinct differences between the American and Chinese health systems. One example: Her grandmother, with several health conditions, was able to access care more easily in the U.S. than in China.

As an undergraduate at Princeton University, Long studied the health disparities she had witnessed firsthand through the lens of medical anthropology. In South Africa, while studying abroad at the the University of Cape Town, she noticed a vast divide in resources between households just a few miles apart, a key contributor to health disparities.

She followed her parents’ paths, first becoming an emergency medical technician while at Princeton, and later studying at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Long began forging her own path at medical school, spending a summer in the surgical department at Mbingo Baptist Hospital in Cameroon, where she developed a trauma registry. Later, to improve burn care, she helped build Nepal’s first skin bank at Kirtipur Hospital.

The work inspired Long’s interest in plastic and reconstructive surgery. While the wealthy can easily access these services, she explains, they’re often out of reach for low-resource The work inspired Long’s interest in plastic and reconstructive surgery. While the wealthy can easily access these services, she explains, they’re often out of reach for low-resource populations.

“I quickly realized that I’m not forcing an intersection between surgery and public health,” she says. “There is a major need worldwide for access to safe, timely, and affordable surgery … .”

Earning an MPH at the Bloomberg School will ultimately help her work toward this goal.

“Health care systems will not be adequate unless they include robust surgical systems,” she says. “I want to do my part to make this happen.”