February 1, 2010

Celentano named Dr. Charles Armstrong Chair of Epidemiology

David Celentano will be installed on Wednesday, Feb. 3, as the inaugural Dr. Charles Armstrong Chair and Professor of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Celentano, who had served as interim chair of the department since September 2008, was selected to lead it following an international search.

The named professorship was established by Mary Emma Armstrong in memory of her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Charles Armstrong. Charles Armstrong was a colleague of Wade Hampton Frost, the first chair of the Department of Epidemiology.

“David Celentano is an internationally recognized scholar known for his seminal contributions to the epidemiology and prevention of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections,” said Michael J. Klag, dean of the Bloomberg School. “He is also a decisive administrator and gifted teacher, which makes him the perfect choice for the Charles Armstrong Chair and Professor of Epidemiology. I am also grateful to Mary Emma Armstrong for her generosity and commitment to public health in endowing this chair.”

Celentano came to the School of Public Health as a student in 1973. He went on to earn a master of health science degree in 1975 and a doctor of science degree in 1977 after conducting his dissertation research with the renowned epidemiologist George Comstock. He joined the faculty in 1978 and holds joint appointments in International Health; Health, Society and Behavior; and at the School of Medicine.

His research integrates behavioral science theory and research with epidemiology, in the study of behavioral and social epidemiology. While originally trained in a chronic disease paradigm (alcoholism and cancer control), he began his research in HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases in the early 1980s. Celentano worked on some of the major cohort studies (ALIVE, MACS) in HIV epidemiology, and also conducted intervention research in the United States for heterosexual men and women, injection drug users and young men who have sex with men.

Celentano turned to international research in 1990, when he began a long-term collaboration with Chiang Mai University in northern Thailand. He has worked on and directed numerous HIV/AIDS and STD epidemiological investigations and preventive interventions. He and his collaborators have clearly demonstrated that a behavioral intervention with young men (military conscripts) leads to a sevenfold reduction in incidences of STDs and a halving of the HIV incidence rate. In addition, he documented the increased risk of HIV infection associated with STDs and alcohol use.

More recently, his research group has been conducting a prospective study of hormonal contraception in relation to HIV seroconversion, research with significant family planning policy and health implications. Currently, he is the principal investigator of four NIH-supported studies in Thailand that focus on the association between the use of opiates, methamphetamines and other drugs and the spread of HIV, as well as interventions to affect this association.

In 2006, Celentano was awarded an honorary doctorate in health sciences from Chiang Mai University; the degree was presented by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.