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March 12, 2004

William Eaton to Lead Department of Mental Health

EatonWilliam W. Eaton, PhD, a leading expert in the field of mental health, will chair the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Eaton is a long-time faculty member of the School of Public Health and has served as the interim chair of the Department for the past two years.

“Professor Eaton has an international reputation as an outstanding researcher and teacher and has led the department successfully as interim chair,” said Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS, dean of the School of Public Health. “In consultation with the School’s other departmental chairs and deans, I concluded that a formal search for a new, permanent chair would prove time-consuming and disruptive and would be unlikely to identify someone as highly regarded and successful as Professor Eaton,” said Dr. Sommer.

Dr. Eaton’s research has focused on the risk factors and consequences of severe 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. Currently, he  focuses his research on the relationship of autoimmune diseases to schizophrenia, autism, and bipolar disorder, in collaboration with a team of investigators from Denmark.

Dr. Eaton also 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 20-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, and breast cancer.

Dr. Eaton joined the faculty of the School of Public Health in 1983. Before joining Johns Hopkins University, he served as 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, Canada. Throughout his career, Dr. Eaton has served on numerous advisory panels, including the U.S. Congress Agent Orange Advisory Panel and the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Prevention of Mental Disorders. He has just finished his term as president of the American Psychopathological Association.

He received the Rema Lapouse Award from the American Public Health Association in 2000 and 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.

Dr. Eaton earned his master's and doctorate degrees in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham at 410-955-6878 or Photographs of William Eaton are available upon request.