About N. Harris, MD, MFA

Dr. N. Stuart Harris is the founder and Chief of the Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Wilderness Medicine, and the Director of the MGH Wilderness Medicine Fellowship. He is a full-time attending physician in the MGH Emergency Department and an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He graduated from the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency in 2003. 

Stuart’s research focuses on investigating the pathogenesis and treatment of acute hypoxia/ high altitude illness and on the interplay between climate change and human health.  His drive to increase physician awareness of the interaction between environmental degradation and individual and public health has led to the creation of the first Wilderness Medicine Fellowship at MGH.  He has been conducting research with the Himalayan Rescue Association in the Mt. Everest region since 1999 and the U.S. Army’s Research Institute for Environmental Medicine since 2004. The Division’s research teams are active on Mt. Kilimanjaro, in the Andes, far Eastern Siberia, Alaska, on mitochondrial dysfunction (Drs. Zapol, Mootha, and Berra) and in the MGH ED (NO COV-ED trial PI – using inhaled nitric oxide to treat acute COVID). In 2011, he worked a Denali National Park climbing ranger patrol where he performed the first ultrasound imaging on the summit of N. America. He works closely with the Wood Hole Research Center. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. DOD, MGH, and HMS.

Prior to medical school, Stuart worked as NOLS Instructor, taught English in rural Japan, earned his Black belt in Shodokan Judo, was Bronze Medalist in U.S. Whitewater Open Canoe Nationals, a commercial fisherman in Alaska, and earned his Masters in Fine Art at the Iowa Writers Workshop. He is a National Fellow of The Explorers’ Club.  Stuart is co-creator and faculty on the medical student course, Medicine in the Wild with the National Outdoor Leadership School. He is on the NOLS Board and Chair of the Risk Management Committee. He is co-editor for the 7th edition of Auerbach’s Wilderness Medicine. In 2011, he was deployed to the town of Kesennuma, Japan, after the Tohoku tsunami disaster.  He has been awarded the 2010 NOLS Alumni Service Award, Symbols of Hope Award, and the John E. Thayer III Award by the Japan Society of Boston.

Clinical Interests:



Mass General Emergency Medicine
55 Fruit St.
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: 617-724-4100

Medical Education

  • MD, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
  • Residency, Brigham and Women's Hospital

American Board Certifications

  • Emergency Medicine, American Board of Emergency Medicine

Accepted Insurance Plans

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Dr. Harris' research focuses on investigating the pathogenesis and treatment of high altitude illness and on the interactions of human and global health. In concert with leading international high altitude physiologists and physicians, he has created the International High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) Registry. This Registry has been adopted as the global standard. He has been named Registry Master, Chair of the Registry Steering Committee, and Executive Committee Member for the International Society for Mountain Medicine. The Registry is a fundamental tool in expanding the range of genetic, epidemiologic, and pharmacologic high altitude studies in the future.

Additionally, Dr. Harris' research team has been fortunate enough to work closely with the U.S. Army's Research Institute for Environmental Medicine (Natick, MA and Pikes Peak Summit Lab) over the last decade.  Research with multiple different departments at MGH and at BWH are ongoing.  In collaboration with the Woods Hole Research Institute, his division is pursuing research in far eastern Siberia examining the interaction between human and environmental health.

Dr. Harris' work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Center for the Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology, MGH, and Harvard Medical School.

In collaboration with others, Dr. Harris continues to actively research pathogenic changes in acute mountain sickness and HAPE. They are getting ever closer to describing the long-suspected, but as of yet, undocumented, basic pathophysiologic finding in a universal life threat: hypoxia.


  • Select Publications:

    • Harris NS, Wenzel RP, Thomas SH. High Altitude Headache: Efficacy of Acetaminophen vs. Ibuprofen in a Randomized, Controlled Trial. Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2003;24(4):383-387.
    • Harris, N. Stuart. Case 24-2006: A 40-year-Old Woman with Hypotension after an Overdose of Amlodipine. Case Records of the Massachusetts General Hospital. New England Journal of Medicine. 2006;355(6):302-11.
    • Peter J. Fagenholz, MD; Jonathan A. Gutman, MD; Alice F. Murray, MBChB; Vicki E. Noble, MD; Stephen H. Thomas, MD, MPH; N. Stuart Harris, MD, MFA. Chest Ultrasonography for the Diagnosis and Monitoring of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema. Chest. 2007;131(4):1013-1018.
    • Peter J. Fagenholz; Jonathan A. Gutman; Alice F. Murray; Vicki E. Noble; Carlos A. Camargo Jr.; and N. Stuart Harris. Optic nerve sheath diameter correlates with the presence and severity of acute mountain sickness: evidence for increased intracranial pressure. J Appl Physiol. 2009 Apr 1;Sect. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

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