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February 4, 2009

Eaton Named Inaugural Sylvia and Harold Halpert Professor in Mental Health

William Eaton

William W. Eaton, PhD, chair of the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has been named the inaugural Sylvia and Harold Halpert Professor in Mental Health. Eaton, a leader in the field of mental disorders, was officially installed during a ceremony at the Bloomberg School of Public Health on February 4.

The endowed professorship honors Harold P. Halpert, MPH, DrPH, a Bloomberg School graduate who has published several articles and handbooks in mental health, and his wife, Sylvia Halpert, PhD, a psychotherapist and an expert in social research. Harold Halpert came to Johns Hopkins as a graduate student from the National Institute of Mental Health, where he directed a research grants program to develop coordinated approaches to the treatment of the mentally ill. Both Halperts were committed to mental health issues and the advancement of research developed to understand and treat mental health problems.

“William Eaton is an outstanding researcher who has made significant contributions to the field of mental health. His work examining the relationship between autoimmune diseases and mental disorders has proved groundbreaking and helped shape the way we examine risks for severe mental disorders,” said Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health. “As the Sylvia and Harold Halpert Professor in Mental Health, Dr. Eaton will continue in the same spirit of advancing research and care,” Klag said.

Eaton came to the Bloomberg School of Public Health in 1983 and has served as chair of the Department of Mental Health since 2004. His research has focused on the risk factors and consequences of mental disorders. He has conducted research on the incidence, natural history and risk factors for schizophrenia using data from psychiatric case registers from around the world and recently focused this research on the relationship of autoimmune diseases to schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder. In addition, Eaton has investigated more common mental disorders, such as major depressive disorder and the anxiety disorders, in the context of the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Follow Up, a 25-year cohort study. His research team determined that major depressive disorder was predictive of the new occurrence of important physical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, breast cancer and osteoporosis.

During his tenure, Eaton has authored or edited nine books, including three editions of The Sociology of Mental Disorders, published more than 185 peer-reviewed articles and written more than 50 chapters or other scientific articles. He received the Administrator’s Award for Meritorious Performance from the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration for “implementing the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program” in 1980; the Rema Lapouse Award for “significant contributions to the scientific understanding of the epidemiology and control of mental disorders,” from the epidemiology, statistics and mental health sections of the American Public Health Association in 2000; and the Samuel Hamilton Award of the American Psychopathological Association in 2004. Eaton was also selected to present the Eli Robins Memorial Lecture and the Lee N. Robins Endowed Lecture, at Washington University in St. Louis in 1998 and 2006, respectively, and he gave the Erik Stromgren Lecture in Aarhus, Denmark in 2005.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Eaton served as an assistant chief of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies at the National Institute of Mental Health, and, prior to that, was an assistant professor of sociology at McGill University in Montreal.

Media contact for Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Natalie Wood-Wright at 410-614-6029 or nwoodwri@jhsph.edu.