Skip to Content
HSF Alumni

Dr. Christian Arbelaez

Watch Video
  • Gender: Male
  • University: Houston Baptist University
  • University: Harvard University
  • Post Graduate Degree: MD
  • Graduate Degree: Public Health
  • Hometown: Houston
  • Organization: Department of Brown Department of Emergency Medicine at Rhode Island, Hasbro Children’s, The Miriam, and Newport Hospitals
  • Position Title: MD, MPH; Vice Chair of Academic Affairs

Christian was born and raised in Colombia. When he was ten, he and his parents moved to the US, settling in Houston, Texas, where he struggled to learn English and excel in school. His mother was a housekeeper, and he remembers tagging along to help her clean. 

His parents’ experiences left a deep and lasting impression. “Because of the discrimination I saw my parents endure, I learned the importance of education; it’s the great equalizer,” he said. 

However, because neither of his parents had the opportunity to go to college, higher education wasn’t on his radar. That changed, when a high school anatomy and physiology teacher encouraged him and also helped him navigate the college application and scholarship maze.  

He was accepted at Houston Baptist University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology, before going on to earn his MD from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas. He then earned a Master’s in Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and did his residency in Emergency Medicine at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island, where he also became Chief Resident.

An HSF Scholarship made it possible for him to continue his studies. “I think about where I am because of the scholarship, how somebody believed in me, how an organization supported me,” he said years later. “Who knows what would have [become]…of my life.”

He served for a time as the Assistant Residency Director of Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine in Colombia, where he began developing residency programs. During his time there, he was named the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Ambassador for Colombia. Among other achievements during his international stint, he created the ACEP’s Ambassador Conference, which has trained international medical ambassadors working in over 80 countries and helped advance emergency care and medical initiatives around the world.

He has also participated in several domestic and international volunteer relief efforts, including working with the American Red Cross on Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief. In an interview with a Boston Globe digital news outlet, he said, “That moment just crystallized what I had done all this theory for [in public health],” adding that his new purpose was give back to the community, “not only as a physician but also as a public health leader.”   

Today, Dr. Arbelaez is the vice chair of academic affairs for the Brown Department of Emergency Medicine at Rhode Island, Hasbro Children’s, The Miriam, and Newport Hospitals. He is also an associate professor at Brown University Medical School.

Dr. Arbelaez has received many honors for his achievements. Among these are the Young Mentor Award at Harvard Medical School, Dennis Thomson Leadership Award, and being named a Fulbright Specialist and National Hispanic Medical Association Leadership Fellow. He was inducted into HSF’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 2013, as “Inspirador,” for personifying hard work and sacrifice.