Felton Earls is Professor of Human Behavior and Development at the Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. From 1990 to 2005, he was the principal investigator of the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. His current project, Ecology of HIV/AIDS and Child Mental Health in Tanzania, is a cluster randomized control trial which aims to strengthen adolescents’ capacity to promote community health.
Earls was born in January 1942 in New Orleans, Louisiana – the oldest of four born to Ethlyn and Felton Earls II. In 1953, his family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where his father worked for the U.S. Postal Service, and where Earls graduated from Booker T. Washington High School.
A 1963 graduate of Howard University with a degree in chemistry – four years later, Earls received a medical degree from Howard University School of Medicine. Being interested in the science of medicine rather than caring for sick people, he pursued post-graduate training in neurophysiology at the University of Wisconsin.
Earls left Wisconsin to do a residency in pediatrics at New York Medical College. He went on to study adult psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and child psychiatry at the Hospital for Sick Children in London. He joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1974, became Professor of Child Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Child Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis in 1981 and returned to Harvard University in 1989.
Earls met Mary Carlson, who was studying neurophysiology at the University of Wisconsin when he was doing the same. They were married in Boston in 1971 and are the parents of two daughters, Leigh, born in 1967, and Tanya, born in 1974.
Earls has been devoted to scientific research with a commitment to social change in the spirit and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.