Dr. Mary Burke is a psychiatrist and Project Coordinator for Pediatric Mental Health and the Environment at the UCSF PEHSU. Her long participation in children’s community mental health led her to learn about the interaction between environmental toxicants and psychosocial stress as they impact neurodevelopment. She also sees patients of all ages in a multi-specialty clinic for Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation. She serves on the Mental Health Advisory Committee for Project Avary, a non-profit program that provides sleep-away camp, wilderness leadership training, and weekend adventures for children whose parents have been incarcerated. She is on the volunteer clinical faculty at UCSF’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Dr. Burke developed the “Kids’ Talk” curriculum through a collaboration with parents at the Potrero Hill Family Resource Center. This interactive, project-based curriculum brings together the four building blocks of early developmental health: nurturing and stress reduction, nutrition, minimizing toxicant exposure, and environmental enrichment. Dr. Burke is also on the Technical Advisory Committee of the Healthy Generations Project, which uses the “Kids’ Talk” curriculum as a basis for a program that will train community health leaders in Potrero Hill to lead culturally relevant, peer-to-peer parenting activities.
Dr. Burke has worked to bring an understanding of the potential developmental sequelae of early life exposures. Her publications include an article geared to mental health clinicians in Post Graduate Medicine (2011), on the neurodevelopmental impact of early lead exposure.