Nadine Burke Harris, M.D.

Founder and CEO, Center for Youth Wellness

“For too long, we’ve addressed interconnected challenges from early childhood to early career in silos, and I’m eager to help the Opportunity Institute knock these silos down. This new effort understands we must take an ecological approach to address the inequitable health, education and opportunities of children, youth and families affected by issues such as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).”
—Nadine Burke Harris

A pioneer in the field of medicine, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris has earned international attention for her innovative approach to addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, as a risk factor for adult disease such as heart disease and cancer. Her work has demonstrated that it’s time to reassess the relationship between early childhood adversity, child development and health, and how the practical applications of the Adverse Childhood Experiences study can improve health outcomes.

A pediatrician, mom, and the founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness, Burke Harris has brought these scientific discoveries and her new approach to audiences at the Mayo Clinic, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Google Zeitgeist.

Burke Harris’ TED Talk, “How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime,” has been viewed more than 1.5 million times. Her work has been profiled in the New Yorker, in Paul Tough’s best-selling book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, and in Jamie Redford’s film Resilience.

Dr. Burke Harris serves as an expert advisor on the Too Small to Fail initiative (a former project of the Opportunity Institute) championed by the Clinton Foundation in association to improve the lives of children ages birth to 5. She also serves as an advisor on Governor Brown’s Let’s Get Healthy California Task Force and as a committee member for the Medical Home for Children Exposed to Violence Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Burke Harris’ work has also earned her the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award presented by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Burke Harris and the Center for Youth Wellness are partnering with the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital (San Francisco & Oakland) in the first ever research collaborative on toxic stress to validate an ACEs screening tool, evaluate promising interventions and identify predictive biomarkers.

With partners and allies, Dr. Burke Harris and the Center for Youth Wellness are also spearheading a national public education campaign to get the message out on early adversity to parents and pediatricians across the country, just as previous campaigns did for seatbelts and secondhand smoke.