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- Emeritus
William Eaton

Departmental Affiliations


William Eaton, PhD, MHS, conducts epidemiologic research to discover risk factors for psychiatric disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and cognitive decline.

Contact Info

624 N. Broadway, Room 880B

Research Interests

public mental health; psychiatric epidemiology; sociology of mental disorders; depression; schizophrenia; natural history; Health and Behavior; autoimmune diseases; comorbidity of mental and physical disorders; gluten and schizophrenia
Experiences & Accomplishments
University of Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin-Madison
I use the epidemiologic framework to explain the risk factors, natural history, and consequences of major mental disorders. I also take the sociologic approach to understand the occurrence of the subset of bizarre behaviors that generally are labeled as psychiatric disorders. In the area of psychiatric epidemiology, I have conducted research on the incidence and natural history of schizophrenia using data from psychiatric case registers in several locations around the world. Recently this work has focussed on the epidemiology of autoimmune diseases and their relationship to risk for autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. This has led to a current project I am leading with investigators at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center: a double blind randomized controlled trial of gluten withdrawal as treatment for schizophrenia in persons with antibodies to gluten.  I have investigated common mental disorders, such as major depressive disorder and the anxiety disorders, in the context of the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Followup, which is now in the field for a 35 year followup wave of assessments. A somewhat surprising finding from that study was the degree to which major depressive disorder was predictive of the new occurrence of important physical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. In the current wave the focus is on lifelong predictors of cognitive decline and functional impairment.
Honors & Awards
ADAMHA Administrator's Award for Meritorious Performance, "for implementing the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program," 1980
Eli Robins Memorial Lecture, Department of Psychiatry, Washington University-St. Louis, 1998
Rema Lapouse Award, American Public Health Association, 2000
Erik Stromgren Award, Aarhus Denmark,2005
Harvard Award in Psychiatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, 2012
Jane M. Murphy and Alexander Leighton Endowed lecture, Massachusetts General Hospital, 2017
Select Publications
I have selected four books and the initial publication describing the NIMH Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program.
  • Eaton, William W., editor (2006) Medical and Psychiatric Comorbidity Over the Course of Life, Washington, D.C., APPI Press.
  • Eaton, W. W. (2001). The Sociology of Mental Disorders. Third Edition. New York: Greenwood.
  • Eaton, W. W., & Kessler, L. G., Editors. (1985). Epidemiologic Field Methods in Psychiatry: The NIMH Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program. Orlando: Academic Press, Inc.
  • Eaton, W.W., M. Danielle Fallin, and the Faculty, Students, and Fellows of the Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health (2019) Public Mental Health, Second Edition, New York, Oxford University Press.
  • Eaton, W. W., Regier, D. A., Locke, B. Z., & and Taube, C. A. (1981). The Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program of the NIMH. Public Health Reports, 96, 319-325. PMID: 6265966. Reprinted in J. K. Wing, P. Bebbington, & L. N. Robins, Editors (1981), What is a case? The problem of definition in psychiatric community surveys, (pp. 99-106). London: Grant McIntyre, Ltd. ; and in M. M. Weissman, J. K. Myers, & C. E. Ross, Editors (1986), Community Surveys of Psychiatric Disorders,New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Stress, Mental Disorders, Accelerated Aging, and Dementia: a 35-year Cohort Study (U01AG052445; MPIs: A. P. Spira & W. W. Eaton)