Cynda Johnson, dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, won two national awards this spring.

Johnson was noted as a “creative visionary and accomplished leader” in winning the F. Marian Bishop Leadership Award from the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. The award honors individuals who have significantly enhanced the academic credibility of family medicine by a sustained, long-term commitment to family medicine in academic settings.

The second award was the American Board of Medical Specialties Distinguished Service Award for extraordinary contributions to the medical specialty certification process. Johnson has served in a number of capacities in the organization, including as chair and president. She was the first female president of the board. 

In 2008, Johnson arrived in Roanoke as founding dean of its new medical school, which has flourished under her leadership. The school welcomed its first class in 2010 and quickly made its mark for its unique problem-based learning curriculum that includes a weekly patient wrap-up. Upon graduation of its first class in 2014, the school received full accreditation with no citations. In 2015, the school, along with the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, won the Excellence in Virginia Government Award for Public-Private Partnership.

Prior to coming to the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Johnson served at East Carolina University as dean of the Brody School of Medicine and senior associate vice chancellor for clinical and translational research in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies.

Johnson has also served as the first woman president of the American Board of Family Medicine and chair of the American Medical Association Academic Physician Section.

While practicing clinical medicine, Johnson’s main focus was women’s health and maternal/child health. While serving as residency director at the University of Kansas, she was the first family physician to get obstetrical privileges, earning a secondary appointment in the Department of Obstetrics.

Johnson has also been a leader on the international level. She conducted USAID work in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, helping to start the first formal family medicine education programs there. In addition, she helped to start a private Russian American family medicine clinic in Moscow. In her current position, she led the school’s efforts to start international rotations for students in France, Russia, South Korea, Ghana, and India, as well as research relationships in Ghana and Russia.

Johnson has been on the editorial board of several family medicine journals and was also a reviewer for most of those. She was lead author in two editions of the medical textbook, "Women’s Health Care Handbook."

Johnson received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, where she was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honorary society. She received her M.D. degree from the UCLA School of Medicine and earned her M.B.A. at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

“I am deeply touched by these honors,” Johnson said. “But success rarely happens alone. I’ve had the privilege of working with some pretty amazing colleagues and mentors who have helped me along the way. To each of them, I owe enormous gratitude.”

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