2016 Alma Dea Morani Awardee: Paula Johnson, MD, MPH
Paula A. Johnson is a respected and passionate leader, deeply committed to women and sustainably improving their lives. She is recognized internationally as an innovator, bringing her broad range of experience as a researcher, educator, and expert in health care, public health and health policy to bear in the effort to transform the health of women. On July 1, 2016 she will become the 14th president of Wellesley College. Dr. Johnson founded the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology and serves as its Executive Director and Chief of the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard teaching hospital and one of the leading academic medical centers in the world. Her vision for achieving sustainable improvement in women’s health is reflected in the Connors Center’s unique approach to all aspects of health throughout the lifespan. This model encompasses discovering how disease is expressed differently in women and men, integrating leading-edge research about women’s health into the delivery of care, influencing health policy, addressing the health of women globally, and developing the next generation of leaders in the field of women’s health through innovative interdisciplinary education and working successfully across complex systems.
Dr. Johnson, a cardiologist, is the Grayce A. Young Family Professor of Medicine in the Field of Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School, named in honor of her mother. She is also Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research has impacted women across the United States through its influence on the implementation of health care reform. Dr. Johnson has also led the development of a case-based curriculum, which is influencing the development of emerging leaders seeking to improve the health of women globally.Dr. Johnson was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, formerly the Institute of Medicine, IOM, the nation’s leading advisory organization providing expertise on issues relating to biomedical science, medicine and health. She is also featured as a national leader in medicine by the National Library of Medicine and is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees recognizing her contributions in women’s health and public health. Her 2013 TED talk, “His and Her Healthcare”, has had over a million viewers, was recently named by TED as one of the “Top 10 TED Talks by Women to be Viewed by Everyone” and has helped to raise awareness of the importance of sex differences to understanding women’s health.
Her vision, research, and ability to lead at the intersection of healthcare and public health has brought Paula key leadership roles in the local and national arenas, including the Chair of the Board of the Boston Public Health Commission, member of the National Institutes of Health, NIH, Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health, and membership on numerous national and international boards and committees.
She is a respected board leader, serving on numerous non-profit boards currently including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the newly formed Mary Christie Foundation, whose mission is to impact policy focused on the health and wellness of students globally. She is a Director of the publically traded West Pharmaceutical Services, a billion dollar global company that is a leader in the development and manufacturing of novel pharmaceutical storage and delivery systems.
Dr. Johnson attended Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, received her MD and MPH degrees from Harvard, and trained in internal medicine and cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. A native of Brooklyn, New York, she lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband and their son and daughter.