John W. Harrington

Offers student research opportunities
  • Division Director of General Academic Pediatrics, Pediatrics

research overview

  • It is difficult to clarify what my main research interests/goals are since I am at heart, a general pediatrician. I have been senior editor for both of the periodical journals Consultant and Consultant for Pediatricians for over the last 15 years and more recently the journal Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care. I have instituted a Primary Care Track into the Pediatric Residency program to highlight the importance of training the next Academic Pediatricians. I have always considered myself an educator, however I have gravitated to 5 areas of research and academic pursuits; autism, obesity, immunizations, behavior modification and quality improvement.

    My interest in autism stems from having a 24 year-old son with autism and recognizing that many children with autism have disruptive and difficult behaviors that put them at odds with their family, the school system, and law enforcement. I have striven to educate families, healthcare providers, schools and anyone who deals with children who have autism about what it means to provide a medical home. I help communicate strategies of care for children with autism and have designed research around the unanswered aspects of that care. This interest led to Commonwealth Health Research Board (CHRB) grant looking at the Treatment of Behavior Disorders among School-aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Our study utilizing Parent Child Interaction Training (PCIT) for children with severe behavioral problems in autism spectrum disorder provided groundbreaking work towards improving outcomes for parents and children with autism. Additionally, based on my clinical background, I was asked by the AAP to write a review article for the "Pediatrics in Review" and this was published as "The Clinician's Guide to Autism" published in February of 2014.

    Obesity is essentially the most important health problem of this generation and understanding the roots of its occurrence is the key. The seminal research that I did here at CHKD/EVMS led to national recognition and many keynote speaker invitations. Subsequent articles in the literature further reinforced our findings of an earlier tipping point for obesity in childhood by the age of 2.

    Vaccine delivery and vaccine hesitant parents present a conundrum for the medical community and will require continued vigilance on the part of our colleagues. I have done some work with vaccine trials, but mostly I have focused on the aspect revolving around parental refusal initially related to the fear of the MMR and autism, but this has progressed to vaccines in general. This also led to my work with using the 5 S's to help console children after vaccination, since parents worry about the pain induced from multiple needle sticks as a barrier to vaccination.

    I recognized early on in our practice that residents were not well equipped to supply parents with behavior management recommendations and that they had trouble interacting with parents that displayed signs of corporal punishment even during the clinical session. This prompted me to do two things: develop a curriculum called 1, 2, 3, Magic and designate our GAP location a "No Hit Zone". The curriculum worked off of reading the book written by Thomas Phelan and providing 3 role play scenarios with one involving corporal punishment. Our "No Hit Zone" has annual training and recently won an award through the not for profit group "Champions for Children".

    My most recent endeavors stem around quality improvement and safety as well as population health. I have developed some significant experience in the NCQA process of Patient Centered Medical Homes, as well as Accountable Care Organizations (see my role in Sentara Quality Care Network) and more recently in Clinically Integrated Networks (see Fortify Children's Health). In addition, I attended the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) summer immersion classes in 2018 and look forward to furthering this aspect of my education and growth.


  • As Division Chief for General Academic Pediatrics (GAP) and Vice-Chair of Primary Care in the Department of Pediatrics at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughter (CHKD), as well as the Recruitment Director for the Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) Pediatric Residency Program and President of the Professional Staff at CHKD I serve a multiple array of functions for CHKD, the Pediatric Department and the medical school Pediatric Residency Program.

    I am a well-known regional and national leader for an academic division that currently has 7 other full and part-time academic pediatric physicians as well as 4 chief residents. We are the only continuity experience for over 70 pediatric and family medicine residents at EVMS and provide a Level 3 Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) for over 23,000 out-patient visits in our single out-patient site at CHKD. My clinical expertise is in diagnosing and managing children with autism for which the AAP has recognized me on several occasions and the APA formally asked me to provide the Clinician's Guide for Autism that has over 100,000 downloads since 2016. In addition, I have experience in establishing a "No Hit Zone" in GAP and have been recognized as an immunization champion as well as an expert in overcoming vaccine hesitancy and refusal. As the division director and Vice-Chair of primary care our goals are to achieve maximal clinical, research and academic programmatic goals while providing financial oversight of the Division. In addition, as the division chief I provide patient care services as 60% of my job and support the PCMH mission as well as our newest role in population health through Fortify Children's Health by providing the best health care for children and their families.

preferred title

  • Division Director of General Academic Pediatrics

full name

  • John W. Harrington, MD

recognition and awards

  • 2018- EVMS Outstanding Faculty Award-awarded annually to only one faculty member throughout the school
    2017- Inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical society chapter at EVMS
    2017- Executive Awards for Children's Hospital Inc. Award for Excellence in Pediatric Care - Virginia & GHP Autism Awareness Award
    2016- Inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society at EVMS
    2015- Annual James W. Hayes Faculty Teaching Award for the Pediatric Residency program at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA.
    2010-Present- Top Doctor in Virginia