Nadine Burke Harris

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Nadine Burke Harris
1st Surgeon General of California
Assumed office
February 11, 2019
Preceded byPosition established
Personal details
Born1975 (age 43–44)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Political partyDemocratic
RelationsArno Harris (spouse)
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley (BA)
University of California, Davis (MD)
Harvard University (MPH)
Adverse childhood experiences

Nadine Burke Harris (born 1975, Vancouver, Canada[1]) is an American pediatrician who is the 1st and current Surgeon General of California since 2019.[2][3] She is known for linking adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress with harmful effects to health later on in life.[4] She is an advisory council member for Hillary Rodham Clinton's Clinton Foundation's Too Small to Fail campaign,[5] and the Founder and former chief executive officer of the Center for Youth Wellness.[3][6] Hailed as a pioneer in the treatment of toxic stress,[6] her work has been featured in Paul Tough's book How Children Succeed.[7]


Burke Harris received her bachelors degree in integrative biology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1996 and her medical degree from the University of California, Davis.[8] Following receipt of her master's degree in public health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health,[9] she went on to serve a residency at Stanford in pediatrics.[10]

Her graduate studies were supported by The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.

Early career[edit]

In 2005, Burke Harris joined the California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) staff, where she was tasked with the goal of developing programs to end health disparities in San Francisco.[11] While at Harvard, Burke Harris identified access to health care as a key component of the health disparity[clarification needed] in San Francisco.[12] In 2007, with support from CPMC, she became the founding physician of the Bayview Child Health Center and medical director of the new clinic.[6][12]


In 2008, after reading "The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Health: Turning Gold Into Lead," by Vincent J. Felitti, Burke Harris realized that her patients' traumatic experiences were having a negative impact on their present and future health.[12]

In 2011, she was appointed by the American Academy of Pediatrics to the Project Advisory Committee for the Resilience Project.[13]

From 2010 to 2012, Burke Harris, along with colleagues Daniel Lurie from Tipping Point Foundation, Kamala Harris, Victor G. Carrion, Lenore Anderson, Lisa Pritzker and Katie Albright, founded the Adverse Childhood Experiences project in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood in San Francisco. From this effort, the Center for Youth Wellness was created in 2012 to create a clinical model that recognizes the impact of adverse experiences on health and effectively treats toxic stress in children. The multidisciplinary approach focuses on preventing and undoing the chemical, physiological and neurodevelopmental results of ACEs. The Center integrates primary health care, mental health and wellness, research, policy, education, and community and family support services to children and families.[6][12]

In 2014, she was selected as speaker at a Tedtalks event titled TedMed in San Francisco. Her talk, "How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime", has reached over 2.8 million viewers on[14]

In 2018, Burke Harris released her first book The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

On January 21, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed her as the state's first Surgeon General.[15] She was sworn in on February 11, 2019.

The Center for Youth Wellness[edit]

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are defined as preventable and traumatic early experiences; they can range from exposure to violence, poverty and neglect, to physical, emotional and sexual abuse.[16] As a result, it may increase the likelihood for “risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, low life potential, and early death”[16] in adulthood. Exposure to ACEs enables the experience of toxic stress, which varies from typical stress in that it is chronic and excessive, and results in antagonistic physiological responses.[17] These then lead to poor health outcomes in life.

The Center for Youth Wellness (CYW) aims to improve child and adolescent health by targeting the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences. A main goal of the CYW is that “every pediatrician in the United States will screen for Adverse Childhood Experiences by 2028".[18] More specifically, they target ACEs in San Francisco’s Bayview/Hunter’s Point, as it is a generally underserved neighborhood, with a poverty rate of 39% in 2010.[19] The CYW identified that exposure to this factor, along with high violence,[6] increases the likelihood for detrimental health outcomes in this neighborhood.[17] They use a combination of ACEs risk screening (via questionnaire), care coordination, and multidisciplinary treatment (primary care, psychotherapy, psychiatry and biofeedback).[18]


Nadine married Arno Lockheart Harris in 2011 at Dawn Ranch Lodge in Guerneville, California.[20]

Committee appointments[edit]

  • 2002–2003, Graduate Medical Education Committee, Stanford University Medical Center
  • 2003–2004, Post-Doctoral Education Committee, Stanford University Medical Center
  • 2004–2005, Liaison Committee on Medical Education Task Force, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • 2004–2007, board of directors, San Francisco Urban Service Project
  • 2005–2009, Citizen's Committee for Community Development (Appt by: Mayor Gavin Newsom)
  • 2008–2013, Asthma Resource Council, board of directors
  • 2011—present, American Academy of Pediatrics' The Resilience Project[13]
  • 2012—present, California Health and Human Services Agency' Jerry Brown' Let's Get Healthy California Task Force, Expert Advisor[21][22]


Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ Ceiling Breaker for Female Leaders in Public Health, Clinton Foundation, March 20, 2015
  2. ^ "Gov. Newsom Appoints California's First-Ever Surgeon General". NBC Bay Area. San Francisco, CA. January 21, 2019. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Lee, Stephanie M. (February 17, 2015), "Dr. Nadine Burke Harris gets to the heart of children's stress", San Francisco Chronicle
  4. ^ "Google gives $3 million to Nadine Burke Harris' Bayview clinic". November 3, 2014.
  5. ^ "Center for Youth Wellness: Central to Broader Battle Against Child Trauma".
  6. ^ a b c d e "Bayview center pioneers approach to crime prevention by fighting stress in youths". December 8, 2013.
  7. ^ "Paul Tough Speaks at Harvard: How Children Succeed". September 3, 2012.
  8. ^ "Childhood trauma a public health crisis". November 19, 2014.
  9. ^ "Childhood trauma's devastating impact on health".
  10. ^ Tough, Paul (March 14, 2011). "The Poverty Clinic". Retrieved February 22, 2019 – via
  11. ^ "Makers Profile, Nadine Burke Harris, Founder & CEO, Center for Youth Wellness".
  12. ^ a b c d "Childhood trauma a public health crisis The Poverty Clinic. Can a stressful childhood make you a sick adult?". March 21, 2011.
  13. ^ a b "About the Project". Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  14. ^ "How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime". TEDMED 2014. 2014.
  15. ^ "Gov. Newsom Appoints California's First-Ever Surgeon General". NBC Bay Area. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention|Violence Prevention|Injury Center|CDC". April 10, 2018. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  17. ^ a b "ACEs & Toxic Stress Science | Center for Youth Wellness". Center for Youth Wellness. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Mission | Center for Youth Wellness". Center for Youth Wellness. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  19. ^ "Your Neighborhood at a Glance: Bayview-Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley" (PDF). Harder Company Community Research. March 2012 – via San Francisco Department of Public Health.
  20. ^ "Weddings: Nadine Burke and Arno Harris". The New York Times. July 8, 2011. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  21. ^ "U.S. Conference of Mayors Adopts Resolution to Replicate Let`s Get Healthy California Task Force in Other U.S. Cities". Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  22. ^ "Let's Get Healthy California – Task Force Final Report – December 19, 2012, page xviii" (PDF). Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  23. ^ "The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans – Spring 1999 Fellows". Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  24. ^
  25. ^ Fagan, Kevin (February 28, 2014). "Dynamic leaders of child-help center win Irvine Award". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  26. ^ Sentinel News Service (February 27, 2014). "The James Irvine Foundation Announces its 2014 Leadership Award Recipients". Los Angeles Sentinel. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  27. ^ "The Heinz Awards :: Recipients". Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  28. ^ Briggance, BB; Burke, N. "Shaping America's health care professions: the dramatic rise of multiculturalism". West J Med. 176: 62–4. doi:10.1136/ewjm.176.1.62. PMC 1071658. PMID 11788544.
  29. ^ Burke, NJ; Hellman, JL; Scott, BG; Weems, CF; Carrion, VG. "The impact of adverse childhood experiences on an urban pediatric population". Child Abuse Negl. 35: 408–13. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.02.006. PMC 3119733. PMID 21652073.
  30. ^ "The Shriver Report – The Chronic Stress of Poverty: Toxic to Children". Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  31. ^ Scott, Brandon G. (2013). "The Interrelation of Adverse Childhood Experiences within an At-Risk Pediatric Sample". Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma. 6: 217–229. doi:10.1080/19361521.2013.811459.

External links[edit]