Paula Johnson

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Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Executive Director, Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Heath and Gender Biology
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Chief, Division of Women’s Health
Department of Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Paula A. Johnson, M.D., M.P.H., is the Executive Director of the Mary Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology and Chief of the Division of Women's Health at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), where she is responsible for developing interdisciplinary research, education, and clinical programs in women's health. Dr. Johnson is a women's health specialist and a pioneer in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease. She conceived of and developed one of the first facilities in the country to focus on heart disease in women.

Dr. Johnson majored in biology at Radcliffe College of Harvard University. After graduating in 1980, she was admitted to Harvard Medical School, where she became interested in clinical epidemiology. Dr. Johnson took a year off to study at the Harvard School of Public Health and earned both her medical degree and her master's in public health in 1985.

At BWH, Dr. Johnson was made chief medical resident in 1990, the first woman to hold that position in the history of the hospital. Dr. Johnson went on to work in the hospital's cardiac transplant service, where she combined clinical care and research. She has served as director of Quality Management Services at Brigham and Women's, where she was responsible for developing systems of measuring progress in the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of patient care. In her current position, she hopes to make great advances in women's health. Dr. Johnson's concerns throughout her career have centered on access to and quality of cardiology care for women.

In addition to leading the Connors Center, Dr. Johnson also directs the Center for Cardiovascular Disease in Women, which aims to develop new prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation strategies through research as it serves women in all stages of life. One focus of the Center is to reduce the risk of heart disease by educating women about life style choices—including smoking, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise—that endanger the heart and blood vessels. Because African-American women are 50 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than white women, many of the Center's efforts are directed to empowering black women in matters of their health and to examining relationships between race and disease.