Harolyn M. E. Belcher, M.D., M.H.S.

Harolyn M.E. Belcher
Harolyn Belcher
Director, Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training

Kennedy Krieger Institute
707 North Broadway
Baltimore MD 21205
Phone: (443) 923-5933
Email: Belcher@KennedyKrieger.org

Dr. Harolyn M. E. Belcher is a neurodevelopmental pediatrician and research scientist at Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is currently the director of the Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training. Dr. Belcher is also jointly appointed in the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, while also holding the rank of associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.


Biographical Sketch:

Dr. Belcher received her bachelor's of science degree in zoology from Howard University in Washington, DC in 1980, her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine in 1982, and her master's in health science focusing on mental health in 2002 from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Belcher began as a fellow in developmental pediatrics at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in 1985. She went on to serve as assistant professor of pediatrics at George Washington University, Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC, and then at the University of South Florida in the Department of Pediatrics within the Division of Child Development in Tampa, FL, from 1987 to 1993. Dr. Belcher continued her career as a developmental pediatrician with the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, from 1993 to 1995 before returning to Kennedy Krieger Institute as a developmental pediatrician from 1996 to the present. Dr. Belcher was an instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1996 to1997 and an assistant professor from 1998 to 2003. In 2003, Dr. Belcher was promoted to associate professor of pediatrics and lecturer in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and assumed the position of director of research at the Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress (CCFTS) at Kennedy Krieger Institute. In 2015, Dr. Belcher became the Director of the Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training and Associate Director of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Program.


Research Summary:

The Effects of Drug and Traumatic Exposures During Childhood: In the United States, an estimated 4 percent of newborns -- over 130,000 infants -- are born to mothers who use illicit drugs during pregnancy. An estimated 10 percent of pregnant women in the United States drink alcohol and 16 percent smoke cigarettes. Exposure to drugs, tobacco, and alcohol are associated with preventable cognitive and behavioral disorders.

Over 600,000 children in the United States have a history of child maltreatment, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect. Child maltreatment, also called childhood trauma, may lead to preventable physical, emotional and behavioral disorders during childhood and adulthood.

Over the last ten years, Dr. Belcher has conducted research in the area of childhood trauma and substance abuse prevention, treatment, and outcome. Dr. Belcher served as a co-investigator on a community-based Head Start prevention intervention grant funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This grant, the Behavioral Enhancement through Training and Teaching to Expand Resiliency (BETTER) Program, studied the impact of on-site mental health clinicians, parent education, and substance abuse prevention programs at two Baltimore City Head Start sites (Belcher et al., 2001; Belcher et al., 2007; Lyn et al., 2014). In addition, Dr. Belcher evaluates children with intrauterine drug exposure in her clinical practice at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

As Director of Research at the Family Center at Kennedy Krieger Institute, Dr. Belcher worked to develop systematic evaluation of all children treated at the CCFTS. She was the Principal Investigator, for over 10 years, of grants funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative. These grants promoted the development and evaluation of trauma informed and evidence-based mental health treatment for children and families served by the CCFTS.

From 2005 to 2016, Dr. Belcher received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, to promote diversity in the public health workforce through public health leadership programs. Currently, there are three funded CDC programs. The Maternal and Child Health Careers/ Research Initiatives for Student Enhancement-Undergraduate Program (MCHC/RISE-UP) created a national consortium of institutions and universities (including the Kennedy Krieger Institute (lead), Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Nursing, and Bloomberg School of Public Health, University of South Dakota, partnering with Tribal Serving Institutions, and University of Southern California and partnering California State University-Los Angeles, a Hispanic Serving Institution) for public health leadership training for up to 50 undergraduate students each year. The MCHC/RISE-UP program used the LEND and University Center of Excellence in Development Disabilities program training infrastructures to create three public health leadership tracks, namely (1) clinical, (2) research, and (3) community engagement and advocacy at Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, University of South Dakota and University of Southern California locations. The James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases Fellowship provides training in infectious diseases for up to 20 public health graduate or professional (dental, medical, pharmacy, veterinary) students from diverse backgrounds. The third program created a mentored public health research program for undergraduate sophomore and junior students. The goal of the Public Health Leadership and Learning Undergraduate Student Success (PLLUSS) program is to foster student matriculation into graduate public health studies. The PLLUSS program is offered in Baltimore (Kennedy Krieger Institute (lead) and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions), Cincinnati (University of Cincinnati and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and Los Angeles (California State-Los Angeles). During this time, public health leadership programs that Dr. Belcher directed trained over 290 students.

LINK: SciVal Experts Research Profile for Harolyn Belcher


Research Studies:


Research Publications

Belcher, HME, Stone, J., McFadden, J.A., Hemmingson, T.A., Kreutzer, C., Harris, L.G., Wheeler, B.Y., VanOsdel, J. Avila, M., Yorker, B., Hoffman, B., Turner-Musa, J. Evaluating maternal and child health and leadership competencies of emerging MCH leaders: the MCHC/RISE-UP experience. Maternal and Child Health Journal  2015. DOI:10.1007/s10995-015-1796-9.

Belcher HME, McFadden JM. (2015). RISE: Promoting diversity among public health professionals. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 21(4), 384-391.

Beltran M, Brown-Elhillali A, Held A, Ryce P, Ofonedu M, Hoover D, Ensor K, Belcher HME. (2015). Using yoga-based psychotherapy groups for boys exposed to trauma in urban settings. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. (Accepted for publication).

Offerman BJ, Johnson E, Johnson-Brooks ST, Belcher HM. (2014). Get SMART: Effective Treatment for Sexually Abused Children with Problematic Sexual behavior. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 1(3), 179-191. doi: 10.1080/19361520802313445.

Lyn A, Turner-Musa J, Morgan I, Belcher HM. (2014). Maternal characteristics associated with child behavior reports in Head Start. Journal of Community Psychology, 42(5), 571-582. doi: 10.1002/jcop.21638.

Greeson JK, Briggs EC, Layne CM, Belcher HM, Ostrowski SA, Kim S, Lee RC, Vivrette RL, Pynoos RS, Fairbank JA. (2014). Traumatic childhood experiences in the 21st century: broadening and building on the ACE studies with data from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Journal of Interersonal Violence, 29(3), 536-556.

Whitaker D, Milam AJ, Graham CM, Cooley-Strickland M, Belcher HM, Furr-Holden CD. (2013). Neighborhood environment and urban schoolchildren's risk for being overweight. American Journal of Health Promotion: AJHP, 27(6), 410-416.

Hart SL, Hodgkinson SC, Belcher HM, Hyman C, Cooley-Strickland M. (2013). Somatic symptoms, peer and school stress, and family and community violence exposure among urban elementary school children. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 36(5), 454-465.

Ofonedu ME, Percy WH, Harris-Britt A, Belcher HM. (2013). Depression in Inner City African American Youth: A Phenomenological Study. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 22(1), 96-106. doi: 10.1007/s10826-012-9583-3.

Briggs EC, Fairbank JA, Greeson JK, Layne CM, Steinberg AM, Amaya-Jackson LM, Ostrowski SA, Gerrity ET, Elmore DL, Belcher HM, Pynoos RS. (2013). Links Between Child and Adolescent Trauma Exposure and Service Use Histories in a National Clinic-Referred SamplePsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 5(2), 101-109. doi: 10.1037/a0027312.

Suarez LM, Belcher HM, Briggs EC, Titus JC. (2012). Supporting the need for an integrated system of care for youth with co-occurring traumatic stress and substance abuse problems. American Journal of Community Psychology, 49(3-4), 430-440.

Onigu-Otite EC, Belcher HM. (2012). Maternal drug abuse history, maltreatment, and functioning in a clinical sample of urban children. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(6), 491-497.

Hunt KL, Martens PM, Belcher HM. (2011). Risky business: trauma exposure and rate of posttraumatic stress disorder in African American children and adolescents. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24(3), 365-369.

Hodgkinson SC, Colantuoni E, Roberts D, Berg-Cross L, Belcher HM. (2010). Depressive symptoms and birth outcomes among pregnant teenagers. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 23(1), 16-22.

Jamora MS, Brylske PD, Martens P, Braxton D, Colantuoni E, Belcher HM. (2009). Children in Foster Care: Adverse Childhood Experiences and Psychiatric Diagnoses. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 2(3), 198-208. doi: 10.1080/19361520903120491.