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Pamela Cantor, M.D.

Founder and Senior Science Advisor

Pamela Cantor, M.D. is a physician, author, and thought leader on human potential, the science of learning and development, and educational equity. Dr. Cantor practiced child and adolescent psychiatry for nearly two decades, specializing in trauma. She founded Turnaround for Children in 2002 after co-authoring a study that assessed the impact of the 9/11 attacks on New York City school children. In schools located in neighborhoods grappling with ongoing adversity and poverty, Dr. Cantor saw student potential everywhere. But she also saw students acting out and having trouble focusing, teachers struggling to meet the variable and often intense needs of their students, and principals scrambling to build environments that were safe and supportive. She recognized that the research on adversity, the developing brain, learning and health that she had studied in medical school had not been translated and shared with the systems and people that educate children. Science tells an optimistic story about what young people are capable of when the environments and relationships in their lives are designed intentionally to reveal their talents and skills. 

Today, Turnaround translates scientific knowledge about how children develop and learn into integrated tools, and services for educators to establish the conditions for all students to thrive. In two books published in 2021, Whole-Child Development, Learning and Thriving: A Dynamic Systems Approach and The Science of Learning and Development, Dr. Cantor crystallizes key scientific concepts about how human potential and learning unfold so that anyone seeking to open pathways for learning and opportunity for young people may do so. 

Dr. Cantor has shared her insights at convenings across the United States, including the ASU + GSV Summit, Aurora Institute Symposium, Aspen Ideas Festival, Carnegie Corporation/National PTA/American Federation of Teachers Town Hall, CCSSO Summer Leadership Conference, Deeper Learning Symposium, Education Writers Association National Seminar, ExcelinEd EdPalooza, Learning and the Brain Conference, NASBE, and SXSWedu. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, on NOVA and on National Public Radio. She is a featured contributor to Edutopia’s How Learning Happens series which has been viewed more than 11 million times, and to the film A Trusted Space

Dr. Cantor is a governing partner of the Science of Learning and Development Alliance, a collaborative effort focused on elevating science, advancing equity, and transforming education. She received an M.D. from Cornell University, a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and was a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

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