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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 31, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 36
First Chair Named for Health, Behavior and Society

By Tim Parsons
School of Public Health

David Holtgrave, a nationally recognized leader in HIV prevention and social science, will chair the new Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Established in May 2003 with a $20 million gift from a donor who wished to remain unnamed, the department is unique in its approach to identifying, understanding and preventing the human behaviors that are the root cause of nearly half of all illness and premature deaths in the United States.

The new department will focus on research to test ways to improve healthy behaviors and will concentrate especially on how multilevel interventions from national legislation to individualized behavioral counseling education work together to improve health. For example, smoking was dramatically reduced in the United States when education programs were combined with higher taxes on cigarettes and regulations restricting smoking in public buildings.

The new department will draw upon the Bloomberg School's strengths in the social and behavioral sciences, communications, marketing, economics and other core public health tools to establish a multidisciplinary research program of health-related behaviors, develop health interventions and create graduate programs to train new leaders in the field.

"David Holtgrave brings a wealth of scholarly and practical experience. He has an outstanding reputation for working collegially to develop a forward-looking vision and collectively marshaling the resources to drive it to fruition," said Alfred Sommer, dean of the Bloomberg School.

Holtgrave comes to Johns Hopkins from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, where he is a professor and vice chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education and professor of health policy and management. He also serves there as director of the Behavioral and Social Science Core of the Center for AIDS Research. In 2005, the School of Public Health named him Professor of the Year.

Prior to joining the faculty at Emory, Holtgrave from 1997 to 2001 oversaw HIV/AIDS services in the United States as director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention: Intervention Research and Support in the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 1991 to 1995, he worked at the CDC developing HIV prevention programs and researching the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a variety of HIV prevention interventions. Holtgrave also served as associate professor and associate director at the Center for AIDS Intervention Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He worked extensively on HIV prevention community planning and served as a member of the Wisconsin HIV Prevention Community Planning group. He is the author or co-author of 150 professional publications.

Holtgrave received his doctoral degree in quantitative psychology in 1988 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at Harvard University.


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