BLACKBIO100 2023

Dr. Leslie Walker-Harding

The Journal of Black Innovation and the Dr.T. Nathaniel Burbridge Center for Inclusive Innovation have selected Dr. Leslie Walker-Harding, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington (AKA TeenDoc), among the third annual BlackBio100.  Researcher and educator Dr. T. Nathaiel Burbridge was leader of the San Francisco NAACP during the United San Francisco Freedom Movement from 1963 to 1965, leading the Auto Row demonstrations that desegregated the auto industry nationwide. He was also a world-class pharmacologist who hailed from Talladega College in Alabama to become tenured medical faculty in California in the 1950s.

Dr. Leslie Walker-Harding is the Ford/Morgan Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics as well as Associate Dean for the University of Washington. She is also the Chief Academic Officer and Senior Vice President for Seattle Children’s Hospital.


Just prior to assuming her current role at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s, Dr. Walker-Harding served as the Chair of Pediatrics and Medical Director at Penn State Children’s Hospital.  Before moving to the East Coast she spent 9 years at the University of Washington as the Division Chief of Adolescent Medicine and was the co-director for the Seattle Children’s Adolescent Substance Abuse Program (ASAP). She was also the Vice Chair of Faculty Development for the Department of Pediatrics. Her first faculty position after fellowship was at Georgetown University School of Medicine where she developed and led the Section of Adolescent Medicine. She has been dedicated to the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents for over 25 years, particularly in the area of prevention of adolescent substance use and promotion of healthy adolescent development. Her current focus is to raise awareness of and bring to national scale, evidence-based interventions to prevent substance use and mental health conditions in children and adolescents. 

Her research has been focused on prevention of adolescent risk behaviors spanning adolescent and young adult substance abuse and depression to adolescent pregnancy prevention.  

Another local and national focus of hers has been equity and inclusion in our workforce of health providers to achieve excellence in healthcare and to eliminate health disparities.   

She is a Past President of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and has served on numerous national boards.  Her service on national boards and local community projects is all aimed at improving the health and well-being of children, adolescents and young adults at a national and global level.  In 2021 Dr. Walker-Harding rotated off the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) national Committee on Substance Use and Prevention (COSUP) and the American Pediatric Society (APS) council where she was chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CODI). She is currently on the Association of Medical School Department of Pediatric Chairs (AMSPDC) council and chairs the AMSPDC Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee. She is also a member of the National Academies of Medicine Forum for Children’s Wellbeing and is chairing the Forum’s Healthy Parenting in Primary Care collaborative. She has appeared regularly on NPR and other local and national media outlets speaking most recently on medical school diversity recruitment and cannabis’s impact on youth, adolescent health issues and health care workforce diversity

She grew up in San Jose, California and attended college at Stanford University and medical school at the University of Illinois. She then competed her pediatrics training at the University of Chicago and Adolescent Medicine specialty training at the University of California San Francisco. Her first position was developing the Adolescent Medicine program at Georgetown University. 

She is married to Eldridge Harding and has a young adult daughter, Nicole Prothro, who lives in NY.

During Innovation&Equity23, the annual scientific proceeding of the Journal, BlackBio100 selectees will gather with the 23d 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology and the second annual 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in San Francisco.  Throughout the year, these experts are providing important and timely programs each week during the Burbridge Center’s scientific discourses on key topics.