Dr. Deborah (Debbie) Allen earned her undergraduate degree from Purdue University in 1972. She graduated from the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) with an M.D. in 1976, and she later took a three-year residency in family medicine at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana from 1976-1979.
While in training, she developed a keen interest in the education of residents and medical students. Following her residency, she took a position as associate director of Family Practice Education in the Methodist Hospital Family Practice Residency Program. Allen began her teaching career at the IUSM in 1979. She was given a volunteer faculty appointment as a clinical assistant professor in 1982.
Allen became a full-time IU faculty member in July 1986 and was appointed as director of Pre-Doctoral Education. Dr. Allen retired from the IUSM in 2014 with the titles of Otis R. Bowen Professor Emeritus and Professor Emeritus.
While at the IUSM, She developed and instituted the ‘Current Issues in Medicine’ lecture series for the junior year medical students, and as the curriculum changed at the medical school, provided a "bridge" for junior and senior medical students in the form of a senior year elective.
In January 1989, she became the first woman chair in any department at the IUSM. She, along with Dr. Debbie Freund, was responsible for developing the Otis R. Bowen Research Center which is housed in the Department of Family Medicine. The focus of this center is preventive health, rural, and health care services research. She stepped down from her chairperson role in August 1998 so that she could devote more time and energy to the Bowen Research Center. She eventually became the director of the Bowen Research Center and a practitioner and director of the office of the IU Medical Group at One America Tower.
Allen is well-known nationally and is a past president of the American Board of Family Practice. She has been very active in the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. She is a past president of the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians and has served as a delegate to the Indiana State Medical Association as well as to the American Medical Association. In 1998, Allen was awarded a Sagamore of the Wabash distinction by Governor O'Bannon for her contributions toward the development of family medicine in Indiana.