David O. Carpenter is a public health physician who received his MD degree from Harvard Medical School. He chose a career of research and public health rather than clinical practice. His earlier work focused primarily on basic neurobiology using electrophysiological techniques. This led to more neurotoxicological approaches in study of the mechanisms whereby environmental contaminants cause reductions in IQ and altered behavior in children. After a research position at the National Institute of Mental Health and the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, he was recruited to be the Director of the Wadsworth Center of Laboratories and Research of the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). In this position, he played a major role in the creation of the School of Public Health as a partnership between the University at Albany and the New York State Department of Health, and became the first Dean of the school when it was officially established in 1985. He stepped down as Dean in 1998 and joined the faculty as Professor of Environmental Health Sciences. In 2001, he worked to establish the Institute for Health and the Environment as a mechanism to promote interdisciplinary research activities across the various schools and colleges at the University at Albany. In 2011, the Institute was designated as a Collaborating Centre of the World Health Organization in Environmental Health. The third re-designation was just received in July 2019.
Dr. Carpenter's research is focused on study of environmental causes of human disease, especially the chronic diseases of older age such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, thyroid disease, and neurodegenerative diseases. He has studied rates of hospitalization for these and other diseases in relation to living near to hazardous waste sites, fossil fuel power plants, and other areas of contamination in New York. He has used results of these ecological studies to study specific populations highly exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and persistent pesticides in Native American and Alaskan Native communities and residents of Anniston, Alabama - sites of the Monsanto plant that made PCBs. These studies have confirmed the association between PCBs exposure and rates of hypertension and diabetes that were suggested by the ecologic studies. He has ongoing collaborative studies on air pollution and health in several countries and studies health effects of electromagnetic field exposure. He has more than 450 peer-review publications and has edited six books.