David Christiani
Elkan Blout Professor of Environmental Genetics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Medicine Public Health
Outside professional activities


David Christiani, MD, MPH, MS, is the Elkan Blout Professor of Environmental Genetics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He earned his MD in 1976 from Tufts University, and an MS and MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. He did his post-graduate medical training at Boston City Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Professor Christiani’s major research interest lies in the interaction between human genes and the environment. In the emerging field of molecular epidemiology, he studies the impact of humans’ exposure to pollutants on health, as well as the how genetic and acquired susceptibility to these diseases along with environmental exposures can lead to acute and chronic pulmonary and cardiovascular disease. He is also developing new methods for assessing health effects after exposure to pollutants and has is very active in environmental and occupational health studies internationally. In Asia, Africa, and North America, Dr. Christiani and his wide network of collaborators are studying of the reproductive effects of exposure to chemicals, in China; arsenic exposure and bladder and skin cancer, in Taiwan and Bangladesh; exposure to indoor combustion products in respiratory disease in Central America; petrochemical exposures, brain tumors, and leukemia in Taiwan; and the respiratory effects of paraquat exposure in Africa. Preventing these diseases is an ultimate goal. With his HSPH colleagues, Professor Christiani has developed biologic markers useful for examining pollutant-induced diseases such as lung cancer, bladder cancer, skin cancer, and upper-respiratory-tract inflammation. He led a large molecular and genetic analysis of lung cancer, looking at genetic factors that make people susceptibility to lung cancer and help predict the outcome of treatment. He has also led studies of the acute respiratory effects of toxins in the particles produced by coal-burning power plants. This study is also evaluating molecular markers in nasal and lung fluids of exposed and unexposed workers. With collaborators at the Mass. General Hospital, Professor Christiani isl examining the role of genetic susceptibility in ARDS, as well as biomarkers predictive of outcome and survival for this disorder. Christiani oversees a landmark 27-year-long study of respiratory disease in cotton-textile workers in Shanghai, China. This study has determined the rate of loss in lung function among dust-exposed workers and uses molecular biology’s tools to evaluate the relationship between exposure to endotoxins produced by bacteria in cotton and acute and chronic lung disease.
Human Genes & The Environment

Outside professional activities

Outside Professional Activities

In the spirit of transparency and integrity, Salata Institute Faculty Associates disclose publicly their key professional activities outside of Harvard University. The activities disclosed below are for the most recent reporting period, as defined by University policy. Some of the activities may be paid, some may be unpaid, and others may be in exchange for expense reimbursement only.

Outside Professional Activities For David Christiani
Gordon, Rees, Scully, Mansukhani, LLP
Expert witness service
Hausfeld, Ltd
Expert witness service
Jones Day
Expert witness service
Massachusetts General Hospital
Research or teaching appointment
Thornton Law Firm
Expert witness service

The Salata institute

The Salata Institute supports interdisciplinary research that leads to real-world action, including high-risk/high-reward projects by researchers already working in the climate area and new endeavors that make it easier for Harvard scholars, who have not worked on climate problems, to do so.