John S. Santelli, MD

  • Professor of Population and Family Health and Pediatrics


Dr. John Santelli is a Professor of Population and Family Health and Pediatrics and was a past chair of the Department of Population and Family Health at the Mailman School from 2004-2016. Dr. Santelli has conducted policy-related research on HIV/STD risk behaviors, trends in teen fertility, programs to prevent STD/HIV/unintended pregnancy, school-based health centers, adolescent preventive services, and research ethics. Dr. Santelli serves a senior consultant for the Guttmacher Institute and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Adolescent Health. He was a member of the 2016 Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing and is a past-President of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. He has been a national leader in ensuring that adolescents have access to medically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education, and are appropriately and ethically included in health research. He has been the principal investigator of several NICHD-funded projects on HIV risk among youth and linkages between HIV infection and reproductive health with the Rakai Health Sciences Program in southern Uganda. Prior to coming to Columbia in 2004, he worked for 18 years in local and national public health, including service at the Baltimore City Health Department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Population and Family Health and Pediatrics


  • Male

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • MPH, 1982 Johns Hopkins University
  • MD, 1986 State University of New York - Buffalo
  • Residency: University of Maryland Medical Center
  • Fellowship: University of Maryland Medical Center

Committees, Societies, Councils

Board of Directors, SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States

Editorial Boards

Journal of Adolescent Health

Honors & Awards

Dr. Doug Kirby Award for Excellence in Sexuality Research. 2016

David P Ralls Award for Science-based Advocacy. 2013

Carl Schulz Award for Life Time Achievement. 2012

Healthy Teen Network, Researcher of the Year. 2009

James Virgil Peavy Workforce Development Award. 2005


Research Interests

  • Child and Adolescent Health
  • Community Health
  • Global Health
  • LGBT health
  • Maternal and Reproductive Health

Selected Publications

Santelli JS, Haerizadeh S, McGovern T. Inclusion with Protection: A Framework for Conducting Ethical Research with Adolescents. UNICEF. No. inores877. 2017. Accessible at:

Santelli JS, Song X, Garbers S, Sharma V, Viner RM. Global Trends in Adolescent Fertility, 1990-2010, in Relationship to National Wealth, Income Inequalities, and Educational Expenditures. J Adolescent Health. 2017 Feb 28;60(2):161-8.

Patton GC, Sawyer SM, Santelli JS, et al. Our future: a Lancet commission on adolescent health and wellbeing. The Lancet. 2016. 387 (10036).

JS Santelli, S Mathur, Y Wei, X Song, T Lutalo, F Nalugoda, R Gray, D Serwadda. Rising school enrollment and declining HIV and pregnancy risk among adolescents, Rakai District, Uganda, 1994-2013. Global Social Welfare. 2015: 2(2): 87-103. DOI:10.1007/s40609-015-0029-x.

JS Santelli, AJ Melnikas. Teen fertility in transition: Recent and historic trends in the United States. Annual Review of Public Health. 2010; 31: 371-83.

JS Santelli, L Lindberg, M Orr, I Speizer, L Finer. Toward a multidimensional measure of pregnancy intentions: evidence from the United States. Studies in Family Planning. 2009; 40(2).

JS Santelli. Medical accuracy in sexuality education: Ideology and the scientific process. American Journal of Public Health. 2008; 98 (10): 1786-1792.

JS Santelli, IS Speizer, A Avery, C Kendall. An exploration of the dimensions of pregnancy intentions among women choosing to terminate pregnancy or to initiate prenatal care in New Orleans, Louisiana. American Journal of Public Health. 2006; 96 (11).

JS Santelli, J Schlitt, L Juszczak, J Klein, R Nystrom, C Brindis, N Bearss, D Kaplan, M Seibou, D Lockley. Access to reproductive health in school: Findings from the 1998-99 census of school-based health centers. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2003; 32 (6): 443-451.

JS Santelli, IS Speizer, A Avery, C Kendall An Exploration of the Dimensions of Pregnancy Intentions Among Women Choosing to Terminate Pregnancy or to Initiate Prenatal Care in New Orleans, Louisiana Am J Public Health 96 2009-2015 2006

JS Santelli, R Rochat, K Hatfield-Timajchy, et al. The measurement and meaning of unintended pregnancy. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. 2003; 35(2): 94-101.

Santelli JS, Rochat R, Hatfield-Timajchy K, Gilbert BC, Curtis K, Cabral R, Hirsch J, Schieve L, and other members of the Unintended Pregnancy working group. The measurement and meaning of unintended pregnancy Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 35 94-101 2003

Santelli JS, Klein JD, Graff CA, Allan MJ, Elster AB Reliability in adolescent reporting of clinician counseling, health care use, and health behaviors Medical Care 40 26-37 2002

Santelli JS, Lowry R, Brener N, Robin L The association of sexual behaviors with socioeconomic status, family structure, and race/ethnicity among US adolescent Am J Public Health 90 1582-88 2000

John S Santelli, Mary Ott Maureen Lyon, Jennifer Rogers, Daniel Summers, Rebecca Schleifer. Abstinence and Abstinence-Only Education: A Review of US Policies and Programs. J Adolescent Health 38 83-87 2006

J Santelli, LD Lindberg, LB Finer, VI Rickert, D Bensyl, S Posner, S Makleff, K Kost, S Singh Comparability of contraceptive prevalence estimates for women from the 2002 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Public Health Reports 123(2) 147-154 2008

JS Santelli, LD Lindberg, LB Finer, S Singh Explaining Recent Declines in Adolescent Pregnancy in the United States: The Contributions of Abstinence and Improved Contraceptive Use Am J Public Health 97 150-156 2007

Ronny A Shtarkshall, John S Santelli, Jennifer S Hirsch Sex Education and Sexual Socialization: Roles for Educators and Parents Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. 39(2) 116-119 2007

JS Santelli Abstinence-Only Education: Politics, Science, and Ethics Social Research 73(3) 835-858 2006

Global Health Activities

Rakai Youth Project, Uganda: Research examining HIV risk and prevention strategies among young people in the Rakai region of Uganda.