Out gay Vanderbilt professor named chair of major department

Dr. Kevin Johnson, vice chair of the Vanderbilt University Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI), has been named the department’s new chair. His appointment became effective Jan. 1.

Dr. Johnson, who also holds the title of professor of Pediatrics, has been the DBMI vice chair since joining Vanderbilt in 2002. He says that this promotion has been made possible by the support of his peers.

"This honor is a very big deal for me," Johnson says. "I’m very excited about the support I have received from Vanderbilt administration to build upon the excellent efforts of my predecessors. It is rare in life that we get a chance to create something that makes a difference. For me, the role of department chair in Biomedical Informatics is that chance. I’m excited about the opportunity to create an environment that allows our talented faculty and students to shine."

Johnson graduated in 1983 from Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pa., and is a 1987 graduate of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He underwent post-graduate training at Johns Hopkins and Stanford University School of Medicine, earning an M.S. in medical informatics.

Before his tenure at Vanderbilt, Dr. Johnson served as a faculty member at John Hopkins. In preparing for his latest position, he has outlined a number of goals to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the department.

"In five years, I hope to have developed a new Master’s Degree in Clinical Informatics, as well as a stronger and broader area of research excellence," he says. "These efforts will literally transform the way we think about health care by being able to train the next generation of leaders and by leveraging the newest techniques for using data to improve patient care."

As an out gay man in the medical field, Johnson hopes to bring dignity and respect in all his endeavors.

 "I am a strong believer in diversity," Johnson says, "and I look forward to supporting a culture of inclusiveness in our Department, as well as throughout Vanderbilt."

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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