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Harolyn M. E. Belcher, M.D.

Photo of Dr. Harolyn M. E. Belcher, M.D.

Professor of Pediatrics

Research Interests: Substance abuse treatment, prevention and outcomes; Neurodevelopment pediatrics

Contact for Research Inquiries

Kennedy Krieger Institute
716 North Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205 map

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Dr. Belcher is the Director of the Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training at Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is Principal Investigator of three Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health leadership training programs to promote diversity in public health research, training, and leadership experiences for undergraduate, public health graduate, medical, dental, pharmacy, and veterinary students. Dr. Belcher is the co-director of the National Center for Health Policy Research Scholars funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In 2016, Dr. Belcher received 5-year funding from HRSA to promote diversity in the maternal and child field.

Dr. Belcher was Principal Investigator (PI) of two National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) grant funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and completed a K-award from National Institute of Mental Health to evaluate a curriculum that promotes parental emotional well-being and knowledge of child development for young parents of children enrolled in Early Head Start. She is co-PI on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to conduct a cost comparison of two evidence-based parent interventions for young children with emotional and behavioral problems. Dr. Belcher was co-investigator on a community-based Head Start family and child behavioral health prevention intervention grant funded by SAMHSA. In addition, Dr. Belcher was the PI on a SAMHSA grant providing comprehensive substance abuse treatment, health care, social work, parent education, and evaluations for women who were pregnant and drug-dependent and, following birth, their children. 

Dr. Belcher collaborated on community-based initiatives to support recruitment and parent education of African American parents participating in church-based foster care for children with drug exposure and HIV infection in Tampa, Florida. While in Florida, Dr. Belcher was the director of the Developmental Evaluation and Intervention (DEI) program at University of South Florida. The DEI program provided center and home-based evaluation and treatment services for infants and young children who were treated in Neonatal Intensive Care Units and whose families' incomes were at 250% of poverty or lower. This program expanded to serve children and families in five counties. more


  • Professor of Pediatrics

Departments / Divisions



  • B.S., Howard University (District of Columbia) (1980)
  • M.D., Howard University College of Medicine - Washington (District of Columbia) (1982)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Over the last 10 years, Dr. Belcher has worked in the area of substance abuse prevention, treatment and outcome. While on faculty at the University of South Florida, Dr. Belcher was instrumental in developing (1) community-based programs integrating prenatal care, substance abuse treatment, parent education and pediatric follow-up for pregnant drug-dependent women, and (2) specialized foster care evaluation and education programs for church-based foster care for HIV positive and drug exposed infants (Wallace and Belcher, 1997). Dr. Belcher is a co-investigator in an on-going NIH study to evaluate the impact of home-based nursing intervention for children with intrauterine drug exposure. Findings from this study suggest that children with intrauterine drug exposure have neuromotor abnormalities in the first year that improve over time (Belcher, et al., 1999). Children with intrauterine drug exposure (IUDE) who receive home-based intervention have fewer behavioral problems and less parental distress than those who did not receive the home intervention (Butz, et al., 2001).

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, endeavored to study 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). In addition, Dr. Belcher evaluates children with intrauterine drug exposure in her clinical practice at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Dr. Belcher is the principal investigator for an early head start prevention program, entitled the "Helping-U-Grow study" (HUGS). The HUGS study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, uses a randomized design to evaluate the effectiveness of the parents' healing curriculum for parents of early head start pupils. Dr. Belcher is also principal investigator on a federal grant to evaluate methods to optimize compliance during MRIs and measure the effects of illicit drug exposure on brain development and another grant that created a National Child Traumatic Stress Center at the Kennedy Krieger Institute Family Center to study and improve outcome for children exposed to maltreatment.

Clinical Trials

Early Parenting Intervention Comparison (EPIC)

Selected Publications

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

Lyn A, Turner-Musa J, Morgan I, Belcher HM. "Maternal characteristics associated with child behavior reports in Head Start." Journal of Community Psychology. 2014. 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. "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 Interpersonal Violence. 2014 Feb;29(3):536-56.

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

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

Belcher HME, Stone J., McFadden JA, Hemmingson TA, Kreutzer C, Harris LG, Wheeler BY, 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; 19:2560-2567. DOI:10.1007/s10995-015-1796-9

Belcher HME, McFadden JM. RISE: Promoting diversity among public health professionals. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 2015; 21:384-391. DOI:10.1097/PHH.0000000000000052

Activities & Honors


  • Morgan State University ASCEND Program Exemplary Mentor Award, 2016
  • Johns Hopkins Universities Diversity Recognition Award, 2014
  • Alpha Omega Alpha, 2011
  • African American Mental Health Research Scientist Scholar, 2005
  • Governor's Citation for Service on the Methylphenidate Task Force, 1999
  • Meritorious Civilian Service Award, Department of Navy, 1995
  • Friend of the Young Child Award, Hillsborough County, Tampa, FL, 1993
  • Community Service Award, Project STRIVE, Tampa, FL, 1992
  • First place for poster presentation, American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, 1987
  • Second place for outstanding student research, Howard University College of Medicine, 1979
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