Juan Celedon, MD, DrPH


Chief of Service, Division of Pediatric Pulmonology, Allergy and Immunology, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
Director, Center for Environmental Health, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
Niels K. Jerne Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Department of Human Genetics, Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh
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Internal Medicine

Secondary Specialty:



Pontificia Universidad Javeriana


Lincoln Medical Center
Bronx, NY
Beth Israel Medical Center
New York, NY


Brown University Alpert School of Medicine
Providence, RI
Brigham & Women's Hospital
Boston, MA


UPMC Presbyterian
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC




Research Interests

I am a pulmonologist and genetic epidemiologist committed to research, mentoring, and patient care. My research goals are to identify genetic factors and early-life environmental exposures that influence the development of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), particularly in ethnic minorities.

I have had a longstanding interest on early-life risk factors for obstructive airway diseases. We first demonstrated that “reverse causation” partly explains observed associations between antibiotic use and childhood asthma, and that maternal asthma modifies the relation between selected environmental exposures and childhood asthma. We have also shown that variants in the gene for matrix metalloproteinase 12 (MMP12) influence lung function and/or COPD development in high-risk groups (children with asthma and adult smokers).

Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans markedly differ with regard to asthma burden (the “Hispanic paradox”). We have shown that underlying differences in racial ancestry (assessed by genetic markers) likely explain this finding. In particular, we reported that African ancestry is inversely related to lung function in Puerto Rican children, but that Native American ancestry is positively related to lung function (but inversely related to COPD) in New Mexicans Hispanics and Costa Ricans. We are now trying to determine whether genetic variants that are more common in West Africans or Native Americans than in Europeans explain our results for racial ancestry in Puerto Ricans (who have mostly European, African and Native American ancestry) and Costa Ricans (who have mostly European and Native American ancestry). In both cases, we are conducting replication studies for genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of airway diseases and their intermediate phenotypes. Among Puerto Rican children, we are also performing genome-wide interaction studies (GWISs) for allergen exposure and vitamin D on childhood asthma and lung function.

We first reported that physical or sexual abuse is associated with increased asthma morbidity (in a study of Puerto Rican children). In another study, we showed that paternal and maternal depression are associated with increased asthma burden from ages 1 to 3 years in Puerto Rican twins. More recently, we reported that genetic and epigenetic variation in ADCYAP1R1 is associated with childhood asthma in Puerto Ricans. Furthermore, we demonstrated that exposure to personal and community violence is associated with both ADCYAP1R1 methylation and asthma in these children. We now plan to examine the impact of parental/individual-level stress on (genome-wide) DNA methylation and gene expression in Puerto Rican children.

We first showed that vitamin D insufficiency is associated with severe asthma exacerbations in a study of Costa Rican children, a finding then replicated in North American and Puerto Rican children. We are now conducting a clinical trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent severe asthma exacerbations in childhood. Such trial is being complemented by mechanistic studies of the effects of vitamin D on viral illnesses and steroid responsiveness As always, thanks for your help.

I am keenly interested in mentoring the next generation of physician-scientists. I was deeply humbled and honored to be the first faculty member of Harvard Medical School to ever receive both the Young Mentor Award (2005) and the A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award (2010).

  • Epigenetic Variation and Asthma in Puerto Rican Children
  • Clinical Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation to Prevent
  • Severe Asthma Exacerbations in Children
  • Genes, Home Allergens, and Asthma in Puerto Rican Children
  • The Genetic Epidemiology of COPD in Costa Rica

View Dr. Celedón's full list of publications from PubMed.

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  • Pediatric Pulmonology

    Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

    4401 Penn Ave.
    3rd Floor
    Pittsburgh PA, 15224
    (412) 692-5540