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August 26, 2011 - Former USA College of Medicine Faculty Member Appointed Dean of Howard University College of Medicine
Dr. Mark S. Johnson, a former resident and faculty member at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was recently appointed dean of the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Johnson served as assistant dean for student affairs and special programs at USA from 1986 to 1991. While at USA, he was responsible for minority recruitment and helped establish the BEAR Program, which brought minority students to the campus to participate in summer programs that could lead to admission to medical school.
“We were able to recognize minority students early in their college careers and steer them to medical school at USA,” Dr. Johnson said.
In addition, Dr. Johnson was responsible for the Minority High School Summer Research Apprenticeship Program – funded by NIH – that provided laboratory research experiences for high school students and high school science teachers.
“My position at USA introduced me to the Association of American Medical Colleges, where I was able to learn more about the administration and management of medical schools,” Dr. Johnson said. “I also became familiar with Historically Black Colleges and Universities while recruiting minority students. These experiences will be very helpful for me at Howard.”
Prior to his appointment at Howard University, Dr. Johnson served as the founding chair of the department of family medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – New Jersey Medical School (UMD-NJMS). As chair, he established a nationally recognized department, which he has led for 20 years.
Dr. Johnson said his experiences at New Jersey have prepared him well for his position at Howard University. “My department has been responsible for bringing several educationally innovative programs to the medical school, and we have also had great success in research mentorship and productivity.”
Dr. Johnson was born in Newark, N.J., and graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with a bachelor of arts degree in interdisciplinary studies/black literature. He earned his medical degree from UMD-NJMS and completed his residency at the USA Medical Center.
“I applied to every family medicine residency program south of Washington D.C. and east of the Mississippi River,” Dr. Johnson said. “It felt like home when I arrived in Mobile and met the people there. USA was my first choice.”
In addition, Dr. Johnson said he was attracted to the strong program in family systems theory and psychosocial medicine at USA. “I still feel that being able to take a good history and family history is more important than all the new technology that we have in medicine,” he said. “We must not lose the art of talking and listening to a patient.”
Following residency, Dr. Johnson was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned his master of public health.
Dr. Johnson has served as president of the Association of Departments of Family Medicine and was a board member for 11 years. He was a member of the United States Preventive Services Task Force and was a grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.
In addition, he is a current editorial board member for the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine and a noted clinical researcher and investigator.
“Going to Howard University will give me the opportunity to promote collaborations with other schools in the university,” said Dr. Johnson, who believes that many of the medical problems that our country faces today cannot be solved by physicians alone.
“We need research teams that include sociology, psychology, economics, architecture, and other disciplines,” he said. “I want Howard University to be a national resource for the health care solutions needed for our country.”

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