Barry Zuckerman, M.D. is The Joel and Barbara Alpert Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center. He is a national and international leader in health and child development disparities. His most important scientific contributions involve identifying factors contributing to low birth weight including drugs, alcohol and maternal health and most recently gene environment interaction.
Dr. Zuckerman has also been involved in transforming health care to better meet the needs of low income and minority children. Their efforts are highlighted in four special health care innovations that due to their effectiveness have been disseminated nationally. For over two decades, through the Reach Out and Read Program, pediatricians give children a developmentally and culturally appropriate book to take home at each pediatric visit until age 5 so that parents can read aloud to promote their development. Published research evaluating the impact of this effort has been remarkably positive and consistent; low-income parents are more likely to read to their children and their children’s language scores, which are precursors of literacy, are significantly increased on vocabulary tests. Reach Out and Read is in over 4,700 practices and clinics around the U.S. reaching more than 3.9 million children with 6.4 million books in 2011. It is also in eight other countries.
Second, over fifteen years ago Dr. Zuckerman started the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children (MLPC) at Boston Medical Center, which uses legal advocacy in the health setting to address the non-biologic root causes of low-income children’s health and developmental problems. The lawyers address children’s basic needs including food, housing, education and safety to create home environments that are more supportive of health and development. In 2006, Dr. Zuckerman received funding to start the National Center of Medical Legal Partnership which has spawned over 180 similar programs around the country. The ABA has passed a resolution in support. Dr. Zuckerman and colleagues also developed the Healthy Steps Program for Children. This model of pediatric care provides a child development specialist as a new member of the pediatric team. This effort was implemented and evaluated in over 15 sites nationally with the results published in JAMA showing the positive impact on parenting behaviors that promote children’s health and development and increased quality of care. Finally, he co-founded HealthLeads (formerly Project HEALTH) which is now a national organization that uses college volunteers working in primary care settings for low income children to connect parents with community based resources for their children. This effort has won numerous awards and was highlighted by First Lady Michelle Obama as an important service effort.
In addition to his scientific publications, he has edited twelve books, including three editions of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics: Handbook for Primary Care. He has provided leadership for the development of American Academy of Pediatrics Child Health Supervision Guidelines and Bright Futures Guidelines For Preventive Health Care. He has served on prestigious national committees, including the National Commission on Children and the Carnegie Commission on Meeting the Needs of Young Children. Dr. Zuckerman has been a consultant for UNICEF, providing technical assistance to Turkey and Bangladesh as they strengthen their child health services.
In recognition of his work on behalf of children and families, Dr. Zuckerman has received an Honorary Degree in Education from Wheelock College, a Policy and Advocacy Award from the Ambulatory Pediatric Association, the Robert F. Kennedy Embracing the Legacy Award for the MLP, and the Confucius Award from UNESCO for Reach Out and Read. Dr. Zuckerman received The C. Anderson Aldrich Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics for contributions in early childhood development. He served on numerous boards and committees for the American Academy of Pediatrics and is a board member of Zero to Three - The National Center for Infants and Toddlers.