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Dr. Patrice Harris


Dr. Patrice Harris, born 1960 in Bluefield, was the first Black female president of the American Medical Association. Harris attended Bluefield High School and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from West Virginia University in 1982. She pursued graduate work at WVU, where she earned a Master’s degree in counseling and psychology and attended medical school for Psychiatry. Harris finished her residency at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

Following her fellowship at Emory University Hospital, Harris implemented her own practice in Adult, Child, Adolescent, and Forensic Psychiatry and became an adjunct professor at Emory University in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. In 2007, Harris became a member of the West Virginia University Academy of Distinguished Alumni. She was elected to the AMA’s Board of Trustees in 2011, and led the AMA Opioid Task Force as acting chair.

In June 2016, Harris was named the chair of the AMA Board of Trustees, becoming the first African-American woman to hold this position. Additionally, she chaired the AMA Council on Legislation and co-chaired the Women Physicians Congress. Following these successes, she served as president of the AMA from June 2019 to June 2020.

Harris has received several awards throughout her career, including the Psychiatrist of the Year Award from Georgia Psychiatric Physicians in 2007, the Joseph P. Bailey Jr., M.D., Physician Distinguished Service Award from the Medical Association of Georgia, the Presidential Commendation from the American Academy of Pain Medicine in 2018, and the Jeanne Spurlock, M.S. Minority Fellowship Achievement Award from the American Psychiatric Association in 2018.

Harris formerly served on the board of directors for the WVU Foundation. She currently chairs the WVU Board of Governors’ Ad Hoc Governance Committee, which is selecting the university’s next president.

Written by Stone Schaldenbrand


  1. Cart, Samantha. "Leading Lady". West Virginia Executive, 2019.

  2. AMA Announces Board of Trustees for 2016-2017. American Medical Association, June 16, 2016.