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Nadine Burke Harris

Nadine Burke Harris

Founder of Center for Youth Wellness & Former Surgeon General of California

Nadine Burke Harris

Founder of Center for Youth Wellness & Former Surgeon General of California


Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is an award-winning physician, researcher and public health leader who has spent her career on the front lines of some of our world’s most pressing public health challenges. As California’s first-ever Surgeon General, she helped guide the state’s COVID response, co-chairing the committee to recommend vaccine allocation and helping California achieve the lowest cumulative mortality of any large state. Amid the throes of the COVID pandemic, Dr. Burke Harris successfully launched a first-in-the-nation statewide effort to train over 20,000 primary care providers on how to screen for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and respond with trauma-informed care.

Dr. Burke Harris’ career has been dedicated to serving vulnerable communities and combating the root causes of health disparities. After completing her MPH at Harvard and residency at Stanford, she founded a clinic in one of San Francisco’s most underserved communities, Bayview Hunters Point. It was there that Burke Harris identified Adverse Childhood Experiences as a major risk factor affecting the health of her patients and applied research from the CDC and Kaiser Permanente to develop a novel clinical screening protocol.

In 2011, she founded the Center for Youth Wellness to advance pediatric medicine, raise public awareness, and transform the way society responds to children exposed to ACEs and toxic stress. In this role she founded the Bay Area Research Consortium on Toxic Stress and Health and led the first-ever randomized-controlled trial to validate ACE screening and assess treatment of toxic stress.

Dr. Burke Harris served as a committee member and co-author for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine for the consensus report Vibrant and Health Kids: Aligning Science, Practice and Policy to Advance Health Equity, published in 2019; and as a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ National Advisory Board for Screening.

Her work has been profiled in best-selling books including How Children Succeed by Paul Tough and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance as well as in Jamie Redford’s feature film, Resilience. She has also been featured on NPR, CNN, and Fox News as well as in USA Today and the New York Times. Dr. Burke Harris’ TED Talk, “How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across the Lifetime” has been viewed more than 10 million times. Her book The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity was called “indispensable” by The New York Times.

Dr. Burke Harris is the recipient of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award presented by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Heinz Award for the Human Condition. She was named one of 2018’s Most Influential Women in Business by the San Francisco Business Times and as one of Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 most influential people in 2020.

Speaker Videos

Dr. Nadine Burke Talks About Childhood Trauma | Speak Sis | OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network

All In For Kids - CA Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris and UNHCR SPecial Envoy Angelina Jolie

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris Has a Special Message of Thanks for CASAs!

Dr. Burke Harris and Oprah Winfrey discuss Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) for NumberStory.org

Picower Institute 2018 Spring Symposium: Nadine Burke Harris

How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime | Ted Talk

Nadine Burke Harris, "The Deepest Well"

Speech Topics

All Care Must Be Trauma-Informed Care

Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Adverse Childhood Experiences—known as ACEs—measure the repeated stress of abuse, neglect, parental addiction, mental illness and divorce. Medical evidence shows ACEs have long-term, measurable effects on the development of the brain, immune system, hormonal systems and genetic regulation through the mechanism of toxic stress. These effects unfold over a lifetime to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of ACEs face triple the risk of heart disease and lung cancer. In this talk, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris helps participants understand how common ACEs are, the impact of ACEs on the brain and body and what science says about the best approaches to preventing and mitigating harmful consequences of toxic stress.

You will learn:

  • How to identify the prevalence of ACEs.
  • What characterizes the toxic stress response and how ACEs can lead to toxic stress.
  • The medical, mental and behavioral health outcomes associated with ACEs and toxic stress and how to identify factors that are associated with reduced risk of medical, mental and behavioral health outcomes.

We Are the Light! Transforming Systems of Care for Prevention & Healing

Thriving: The State of Mental Health, The Impact of Trauma & How to Heal

The Impact of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) on Individual Mental Health & The Preventative Childhood Experiences that Can Build Resilience

The Determinants of Health in Children

Trauma Informed Care

Youth & Adolescent Recovery from Trauma, Mental Health and/or Substance Use

Toxic Childhood Stress: The Legacy of Early Trauma and How to Heal

“The Deepest Well” Conversation with Nadine Harris Burke