Dimitri A Christakis, MD, MPH

Dimitri A Christakis, MD, MPH


"What's very exciting to me is not my research alone but being part of a larger enterprise doing such important work. I'm surrounded by talented, energetic people attacking autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, depression, obesity. You name it, and we're buzzing here trying to make a difference in the lives of children in our community and around the world. And I think we are making a difference."
  • Biography

    Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis is a principal investigator under the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute and the chief health officer for Special Olympics International. He is the author of more than 170 original research articles, a textbook of pediatrics, and co-authored a groundbreaking book, The Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television Work for Your Kids. He has appeared on CNN, NPR, Today, CBS News, ABC News, NBC News and was recently featured as a TEDx speaker.

    In addition to his research, Christakis is a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital in Seattle and a professor in the School of Medicine at University of Washington. He has devoted his career to investigating how early experiences impact children and to helping parents improve their children's early learning environments. He and his colleagues in the Christakis Lab have made a number of landmark findings, including discovering that young children who watch TV are more likely to develop attention problems and other health and behavioral issues.

    Board Certification(s)



    University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA
    University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA


    University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA

    Research Description

    The first years of children's lives are critically important for children's lifelong development. Consider that a newborn's brain triples in size in the first two years after birth. This immense growth happens in direct response to the environment that that infant experiences. Consider further that as many as half of children from lower income families start kindergarten without the basic skills they need to learn and that educational gap puts them at a disadvantage throughout school.

    Dr. Christakis, is a Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the Child Health Institute at the University of Washington, and a pediatrician at Children's Hospital in Seattle. Dr. Christakis is the author of over 100 original research articles and a textbook of pediatrics. He is also the author of "The Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television Work for Your Kids" (September 2006; Rodale). Dr. Christakis is an international expert on children and media. His research focuses on the effects of media on child health and development and has been featured on Anderson Cooper 360, the Today Show, ABC, NBC, and CBS news as well as all major national newspapers.

    His research to date has included:

    TV viewing in the first three years of life can lead to problems with language development as well as attention and cognitive development at school age.

    Playing with blocks can improve language acquisition for children ages 1.5 to 2.5 years of age.

    Watching violent cartoons during preschool ages is associated with aggression at ages 7-10 whereas watching educational programming is not.

    His current research includes:

    Helping parents make better media choices for their preschoolers and effects on their behavior at school age.

    Distributing computers with educational software to low income families to try and improve kindergarten readiness.

    Research Focus Area

    Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

  • Related Resources

    • Christakis Lab

      The Christakis Lab studies how the early environment impacts childhood behavior and development, and develops strategies that help parents optimize their children's social, cognitive, and emotional development.

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