DR. CHARLES ARMSTRONG CHAIR IN EPIDEMIOLOGY
Established in 2010 by Mary Emma Armstrong, in honor of her parents

An epidemiologist and virologist, CHARLES ARMSTRONG, Med 1915, earned an international reputation for his groundbreaking work in polio research and prevention and for his skills as an intrepid microbe hunter, tracking down the sources of disease outbreaks. Born in Alliance, Ohio, in 1886, Armstrong earned a bachelor’s degree in 1910 from Mount Union College, and graduated from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1915. As a physician in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), he worked briefly at the immigration station at Ellis Island, and during World War I served as a Navy medical officer aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Seneca. In 1918, the USPHS brought Armstrong back to the U.S. to join the team investigating outbreaks of the deadly influenza pandemic in several states. It was during this assignment that he met Wade Hampton Frost, MD, a fellow USPHS officer and a pioneer in the discipline of epidemiology who directed his work during the pandemic. Armstrong credited Frost, who in 1919 founded and chaired the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health and served as the school's dean from 1931 to 1934, with sparking his interest in epidemiological investigation. In 1921, Armstrong joined the Hygienic Laboratory in Washington, DC, the precursor to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he remained until 1950. He served as chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases from 1941 to 1948. Armstrong is best known for his advances in polio research, most importantly his 1939 success in adapting and transmitting, for the first time, a human strain of poliomyelitis virus from monkeys to mice. His work in the new field of virology led him to contract some of the diseases he studied, including malaria, dengue fever, encephalitis, and psittacosis. After his official retirement in 1950, Armstrong continued to pursue his research at NIH. He died in 1967 at age 80.

 

DAVID D. CELENTANO, A&S 1972; SPH 1975, 1977 (ScD), holds the Dr. Charles Armstrong Chair and is professor of epidemiology, with joint appointments in international health; health, behavior and society; and medicine (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 STDs in the early 1980s. He has worked on some of the major cohort studies (ALIVE, MACS) in HIV epidemiology, as well as conducted intervention research in the USA for heterosexual men and women, injection drug users, and young men who have sex with men. He 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 demonstrated that a behavioral intervention with young military conscripts led to a seven-fold reduction in incident STDs and halved the HIV incidence rate. In addition, the role of STDs and alcohol use on HIV acquisition has been shown. More recently, his group has conducted a prospective study of hormonal contraception in relation to HIV seroconversion, a study with significant family planning policy and health implications. Today, he is the principal investigator of four NIH-supported studies in Thailand, focusing on interventions to influence the association between opiate use, methamphetamine use, and other drugs on HIV. The focus of these interventions is to harness indigenous peer networks for risk reduction.