Anthony Pellegrino holds a model of a human spine.

Anthony Pellegrino graduated from the University of Maryland School of Public Health in 2011 with a degree in Kinesiology. He received his Doctorate in Chiropractic from Life University in Marietta, GA, during which time he helped to build one of the largest chiropractic practices in the southeast. He also earned his “Advanced Proficient” certification in Torque Release Technique, published research on the effects of chiropractic and autism, and pursued his post-doctoral diploma in Pediatrics from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. A New Jersey native, Dr. Pellegrino owns and operates Absolute Chiropractic in Sea Girt, New Jersey with his wife, Colleen Pellegrino, RN.

In one sentence, what does public health mean to you?

“Public health” is the responsibility for health professionals to support the vitality and wellness of their communities, small and large, to the best of their abilities.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on? How does your work relate to this challenge?

The biggest challenge the public health field should be focusing on is shifting the mindset of the public from “treating symptoms” to “promoting health.” Not a single medical textbook has ever defined “health” as merely "the absence of disease," but rather "a condition of optimal physical, mental, and spiritual well-being." With every patient I see, regardless of their condition, my goal is to analyze how and why they are not living at an optimal state of health and help them correct it, allowing them to express their true potential.

Tell us about your evolution from studying kinesiology at the UMD School of Public Health to specializing in chiropractic care for children on the autism spectrum. How did your undergrad program play a role in shaping your career? 

The baseline for much of my current work was developed while studying kinesiology at UMD. I became fascinated with how proper movement influenced not only sickness and disease, but also overall health. When I began studying and practicing chiropractic, I got to see firsthand how proper movement of the spine influenced many neurodevelopmental challenges in the pediatric population, specifically autism spectrum disorder. My background in kinesiology afforded me the lens to view this connection between the spine and neurodevelopment and work with it to promote a higher state of health.

You pioneer this kind of treatment at Absolute Chiropractic, which you own. To what do you attribute your entrepreneurial spirit, and success? 

I have always been obsessed with completing tasks as efficiently and effectively as possible. While for a good part of my life that obsession ended up resulting in “laziness,” in business it has translated to me constantly seeking out a better way to accomplish goals. Getting better results faster has resulted in success.

What’s your take on the importance of entrepreneurialism in public health education and practice?

Entrepreneurialism and innovation are necessary to the development of healthcare, but I believe the focus will change over the coming years. Health care expenditure is currently out of control, and I believe our focus will shift away from developing more and new pharmaceuticals and toward developing more efficient systems to utilize the tools we currently have at our disposal: from an emphasis on promoting health through exercise, nutrition, chiropractic, meditation, etc., to a more responsible distribution of medications.

What person or experience had the greatest impact on you during your kinesiology program?

Dr. Marc Rogers taught me the value of work ethic, to learn for passion instead of for a grade, and to always rise to expectations versus lowering the bar.

How would you describe your chiropractic care philosophy? 

All of my care is based around a simple premise: that we are designed perfectly, and that each individual has unique gifts and talents to bring to the world. We analyze for interferences in the spinal cord and nervous system which may inhibit proper communication between the brain and body – by adjusting misalignments in the spine that cause this interference, we allow the individual to function better. As we see children with autism begin to have increased social interaction and decreased anxiety, or children with ADHD have fewer outbursts or get better grades in school, it isn’t uncommon for hear a parent say things like, “I feel like I’m meeting my son/daughter for the first time." That is the kind of stuff that gets me up every morning.

Published Nov. 30, 2016