Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine dean honored with national awards for professional leadership, service

Cynda Johnson

David Hungate

Cynda Johnson, M.D., M.B.A., has served as dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine since its founding in 2008.

Cynda Johnson, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, won two national awards this spring. The first, having been cited as a “creative visionary and accomplished leader,” Johnson won 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 chair and first woman president.

In 2008, Johnson arrived in Roanoke as founding dean of its new medical school, which has seen notable achievements 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 a reviewer for most and was lead author in writing two editions of the medical textbook, Women’s Health Care Handbook. She 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 MBA 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 an enormous gratitude.”

Written by Catherine Doss

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