It is with great sadness that GMDI acknowledges the loss of our colleague, Debra Geary Hook
Debra Marie Geary (Hook), MPH, PhDc, RD, FAND
It is with great sadness that I share news of the passing of Debra Geary Hook who left us on October 9, 2022.
Debbie or Deb as some called her was a gift to all those who knew her. Not only was she known for her intellect, she was a sincere, sensitive and compassionate listener and was known for her enormous heart. She was a friend to people and animals in need alike, particularly her ‘rescues’ and she loved her dogs.
Debra grew up in Northern California and received her BA in social psychology and BS in clinical dietetics from California State University (1985), Chico. She moved south and received her MPH from Loma Linda University and worked clinically primarily in southern California. More recently she was a PhD candidate in nutritional biology and metabolism at UC Davis. Over the years she also held several certifications including CSP, CSNC, and MCHES.
Debra worked throughout southern California as a metabolic and pediatric dietitian at Miller Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), University of California, Irvine Medical Center (UCI), Loma Linda Medical Center (LLMC), and in private practice where she served metabolic patients throughout the Inland Empire. In addition to her expertise in metabolics, she also developed the ketogenic diet program and protocols at LLMC and Miller Children’s hospital. She worked in Cystic Fibrosis, craniofacial, intestinal rehabilitation, oncology and general pediatrics. In addition to her clinical work, she also worked as a consultant for Ultragenyx where she trialed triheptanoin for patients with long chain fatty acid disorders.
She held several teaching positions at California State University San Bernadino and California State Polytechnic, Pomona where she taught multiple classes in Medical Nutrition Therapy and Community Nutrition. She was a favorite lecturer at multiple universities and programs, locally and nationally.
Debra was a staunch advocate for children with metabolic disorders. She served as an expert on a committee for the California Healthy Benefits review program to ensure third party reimbursement for medical foods for individuals with metabolic disorders. She was also very active in organizations supporting individuals with metabolic disorders. For Genetic Metabolic Dietitians International (GMDI), she worked on the technology committee which developed online software for amino acid and fatty acid content of foods, as well as conference chair (2016). With the Southeast Genetics Collaborative, she participated on the PKU nutrition workgroup to create nutrition protocols and toolkit. She also served on the National Urea Cycle Association Medical Board.
In addition to her work in metabolics, Debra was an active member and Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (FAND)(2014). She served on the PNPG most recently as co-chair of publications, where she was integral in the publishing of the most recent edition of the Neonatal Nutrition Pocket Guide. She also served on the NCP-SL committee with plans to serve as one of the editors for an e-publication related to the Nutrition Care Process. Other positions she held within the PNPG include the Public Relations chair (2010) and Public Policy chair (2015) and co-chair, and locally she also was a delegate for the CDA (2009-2012), Inland Empire Dietetics Association where she served as VP of membership, member’s council, and public policy representative (2000- 2014).
Debra was a fierce patient advocate, believed in the value of the dietitian, an enthusiastic mentor and the type of expert who always sought to keep asking - and answering - hard questions. She was an instrumental mentor to many in the metabolic community, shaping how the next generation of RDN’s serve patients. Many have shared she always had a positive outlook and was a joy to work with. She had broad and far-reaching goals, thought outside of the box, and challenged us all to approach things differently from the norm. As a result, her contributions are many to the world of nutrition and dietetics as well as her memory to the people who knew her. In spite of her illness, Debra remained positive and contributed to the end. She will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege to know her.
This tribute was written by Esther Berenhaut, dietitian at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, with thanks to those who contributed and shared memories.