Meet the Black Woman Appointed as California’s First-Ever Surgeon General
Photo Credit: Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Rape Treatment Center

Meet the Black Woman Appointed as California’s First-Ever Surgeon General

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is the first-ever Surgeon General of the state of California appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Dr. Harris is an award-winning pediatrician and researcher who has dedicated her medical career to addressing and solving issues related to childhood trauma and the healthcare disparities of underserved communities. 

According to the California Health and Human Service Agency (CHHS), the surgeon general position was created in 2019 with the purpose of advising the governor and being the spokesperson on public health issues. The role also includes leading medical professionals, scientists, public health experts, public servants and California citizens toward solutions to public health concerns. 

According to Black Culture News, the California Surgeon General and University of California, Berkeley graduate received her medical degree from the University of California, Davis and also holds a master’s in public health from Harvard University. After completing a pediatric residency at Stanford University, she founded a clinic in Bayview Hunters Point, an underserved San Francisco community. She noticed her patients suffered from asthma, immunization, and obesity-related medical conditions despite medical advances in the aforementioned categories. 

Dr. Burke Harris’ observations of these health disparities led her to develop the Center for Youth Wellness which focuses on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and toxic stress as a risk factor for health conditions. Today, the Center for Youth Wellness is a leading voice in pediatric medicine. 

In a TedMed Talk, Dr. Burke Harris mentioned that her research on childhood trauma revealed: “those who are exposed in very high doses have triple the lifetime risk of heart disease and lung cancer and a 20-year difference in life expectancy.”

Since being appointed in January of 2019, Dr. Burke Harris has made it her mission to reduce ACE and toxic stress by half in one generation. 

Thank you, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. Your dedication to advocating and being a voice for the medically underrepresented and underserved is beyond admirable.