Constantino named director of child psychiatry

John N. Constantino, M.D., has been named the Blanche F. Ittleson Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and director of the William Greenleaf Eliot Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.


The appointment was announced by Charles F. Zorumski, M.D., the Samuel B. Guze Professor of Psychiatry, professor of neurobiology and head of the Department of Psychiatry.

“John is a world leader in understanding the roots of autism and related disorders,” Zorumski said. “He also is an outstanding clinician and teacher, and I am pleased he has agreed to follow Richard Todd as director of child psychiatry.”

Constantino succeeds Todd, an internationally known expert on the influences of genetics and environment on psychiatric illness in children, addressing such disorders as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism-spectrum disorders and affective disorders in childhood. Todd died of chronic lymphocytic leukemia in August at the age of 56.

“It is both an honor and a humbling experience to succeed Richard,” Constantino said. “But it is also a bittersweet occasion because he was such a dear friend.”

As Ittelson Professor, Constantino will oversee the School of Medicine’s clinical and research efforts in child and adolescent psychiatry. He also becomes the child-psychiatrist-in-chief at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. His appointment was praised by Alan L. Schwartz, Ph.D., M.D., the hospital’s pediatrician-in-chief.

“John is internationally known for his outstanding scholarship on the genetic bases of autism and associated disorders,” said Schwartz, the Harriet B. Spoehrer Professor and head of the Department of Pediatrics. “He is a superior physician, scientist and educator.”

A native of St. Louis, Constantino received his undergraduate training at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. He then earned a medical degree from the School of Medicine in 1988 and completed an internship and residency in pediatrics, followed by a psychiatry residency and a fellowship in child psychiatry, all at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y. Following another postdoctoral research fellowship in psychiatric epidemiology at the School of Medicine, he joined the faculty at Washington University and the staff at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in 1993.

Constantino’s clinical interests involve disorders of social development in children with autism, abnormally aggressive behavior, personality disorder, psychiatric complications of neurodevelopmental disorders and childhood psychiatric conditions that are resistant to standard therapies. His research focuses on genetic and environmental factors involved in social developmental disorders in children. He is the author of more than 50 scientific publications.

He is a past recipient of the Distinguished Service Teaching Award at the School of Medicine and has served on the State of Missouri’s Mental Health Commission. Since 2002, he has been listed as one of the Best Doctors in America. He also was the St. Louis Area Council on Child Abuse and Neglect’s 2007 Child Advocate of the Year, and in 2008, he received the Guardian Angel Award from the Family Support Network in St. Louis.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s Hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching, and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s Hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.