Governor appoints first state Surgeon General

Governor Gavin Newsom announced the appointment of nationally renowned pediatrician Dr. Nadine Burke Harris this week to the newly created position of Surgeon General for the state.  Dr. Burke Harris is an expert in adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the effects of toxic stress on children.

According to the Governor’s office, Dr. Burke Harris will focus policy efforts on addressing the social determinants of health – those social conditions that impact the root causes of health conditions, especially ACEs and toxic stress with an emphasis children and impact on future health outcomes.

Of the new position Dr. Burke Harris commented,

 “Governor Newsom’s vision to address healthcare from a preventive, rather than reactive, frame reflects a keen appreciation of the latest science as well as a deep commitment to the health of California children and families.  I am honored to serve in this capacity and will work hard to support the health of all Californians.”

Dr. Burke Harris is the founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness (CYW) and has focused her career on advancing pediatric medicine, raising public awareness, and transforming the way society responds ACEs and toxic stress. She leads the Bay Area Research Consortium on Toxic Stress and Health, a partnership between CYW and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals and serves as a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ National Advisory Board for Screening and on a committee for the National Academy of Medicine.

She is also the author of The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, a book about ACEs science and how she integrated it into her pediatric practice and her life. Her TED Talk, “How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime“, has nearly 5 million page views.

The appointment continues to highlight the Governor’s commitment to addressing early childhood health and development. His proposed budget, released earlier this month, includes several increases geared toward youth health including the expansion of Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented youth up to age 26, $60 million for early developmental screenings for children, $45 million for ACEs screening for Medi-Cal recipients, and funding for home visiting programs to better support families.

Dr. Burke Harris will be sworn in as the first California Surgeon General on February 11th. The position does not require Senate confirmation.