Elizabeth S. Barnert, MD, MPH

Elizabeth S. Barnert, MD, MPH

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Dr. Elizabeth Barnert, MD, MPH, MS is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She provides pediatric care to youth in the juvenile justice system. She is a board-certified pediatrician whose clinical interests focus on adolescent health.

Through the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program, Dr. Barnert received her medical degree from UCSF and earned a Master's of Science degree from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Her public health Master's thesis used ethnography to examine the family reunification experiences of the "disappeared" children of El Salvador. She then completed residency training in pediatrics at Stanford. She came to UCLA in 2012 as a Clinical Scholar in the Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) Clinical Scholars Program. During fellowship, she also completed training in health policy and earned a Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree from UCLA. Dr. Barnert joined UCLA faculty upon completion of her fellowship training.

A Cuban-American born and raised in Los Angeles, Dr. Barnert is passionate about improving health outcomes of marginalized youth. Her research focuses on youth involved in the U.S. criminal legal system, youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation, and youth undergoing family separation and reunification. In her current 5-year NIH study, Dr. Barnert is partnering with Los Angeles County to develop and test an intervention to link young people to mental health and substance use treatment services after incarceration. She has numerous publications in top-tier journals, including in ScienceJAMA Pediatrics, Pediatrics, and American Journal of Public Health.

Dr. Barnert advises the California state legislature and U.S. Congress on juvenile justice policy. Her research contributed to the passage of California SB 1322, which decriminalized child victims of commercial sexual exploitation; to AB 2992, which requires police officer training on commercial sexual exploitation of children; and to SB 439, which excludes children 11 and under from the juvenile justice system in California. Her research and advocacy led to a national coalition around juvenile justice minimum age (#MinimumAge, #RaiseTheFloor, #UncuffKids) and informed Congresswoman Karen Bass's HR 2908, which proposes to establish a minimum age of 12 for the federal justice system. Her work on youth reentry and Medicaid coverage contributed to the federal law, HR 6 (SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act) and to Californai's related law, AB 80, which improved linkages to Medicaid coverage for youth exiting incarceration.

Dr. Barnert serves on the Juvenile Health Committee of the National Commission of Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) and on the NCCHC's Committee on Systemic Racism in Correctional Health Care. She also serves on the advisory board of Human Rights for Kids, a non-profit dedicated to promoting children's rights in the U.S.

Dr. Barnert's work is guided by the principle that all children should receive the support they need to be healthy and thrive.




Medical Board Certification

Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics, 2012


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars, UCLA School of Medicine, 2014


Stanford University School of Medicine, 2012


Stanford University School of Medicine, 2010


UCSF School of Medicine, MD, 2009
UC Berkeley School of Public Health, MS, 2007


  • “100 in 100” - Honored as UCLA Health 100 Trailblazing Women, 2020 
  • New Member Outstanding Science Award, Society for Pediatric Research, 2019
  • Emerald Literati Award – excellence award for research article from Emerald Publishing, 2019
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Hospital Affiliations

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center

Areas of Focus



  • Youth legal system; Justice-involved youth; Commercial sexually exploitation of children and youth; Child sex trafficking; Family reunification


Link to Dr. Barnert's PubMed publications

Selected Publications:

  1. Barnert et al. Using DNA to Reunify Migrant Families [Policy Forum Perspective]. Science; 2021 June; 372(6547):1154-1156. PMID: 34045324.
  2. Barnert ES. COVID-19 and Youth Impacted by Juvenile and Adult Criminal Justice SystemsPediatrics. 2020 Aug;146(2). PMID: 32709736.
  3. Barnert ES, Lopez N, PJ Chung. Barriers to Health Care for Latino Youths During Community Reentry After Incarceration: Los Angeles County, California 2016-2018. American Journal of Public Health. 2020 January; 110(S1): S63-S70. PMID: 31967868.
  4. Barnert ES, Kelly MA, Ports K, Godoy S, Abrams L, Bath E. Understanding Commercially Sexually Exploited Adolescent Females' Access, Utilization, and Engagement in Healthcare: "Work Around What I Need." Women's Health Issues. 2019; 29(4):315-324.
  5. Barnert ES, Lopez N, Bourgois P, Ryan G, Chung PJ, Stover E. My Child’s Journey Home: Perspectives of Adult Family Members on the Separation and Reunification of the “Disappeared” Children of El Salvador. Human Rights Quarterly. 2019 February; 41(1): 91-114. PMID: 31327885.

In the News

  • Co-authored Washington Post op-ed calling for juvenile justice minimum age legislation to end the arrest and prosecution of young children in the U.S. (February 2021).
  • Featured in New York Times story about a Kansas teenager who was charged with a felony for making a gun shape with her fingers (October 2019).
  • Authored article in Forbes about the significant health consequences of family separation (October 2018).
  • Interviewed by host Jonathan Van Ness on Getting Curious podcast, about the long-term impact of family separation on children (July 2018).


  • “100 in 100” - Honored as UCLA Health 100 Trailblazing Women, 2020 
  • New Member Outstanding Science Award, Society for Pediatric Research, 2019
  • Emerald Literati Award – excellence award for research article from Emerald Publishing, 2019
  • Academic Pediatric Association Region IX and X Paul C. Young MD Trainee Research Award, 2014
  • Academic Pediatric Association Young Investigator Award, 2013