Thank you to everyone who attended the 2023 Department of Bioengineering Juneteenth Address. For those who were unable to attend or who may wish to share the opportunity to view the lecture, a recording of Dr. Kevin Johnson’s talk, “A White Neighbor, a Black Surgeon, and a Mormon Computer Scientist Walk into a Bar…” is available below.
Speaker: Kevin B. Johnson, MD, MS, FAAP, FAMIA, FACMI
David L. Cohen University Professor
Computer and Information Science
Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics
Annenberg School for Communication
VP for Applied Informatics (UPHS), University of Pennsylvania
As we recognize Juneteenth, a holiday that brings awareness to what journalist Corey Mitchell calls “…a complex understanding of the nation’s past,” we also need to understand how many of our neighbors, staff, and faculty — even those born in the last 100 years — continue to navigate through the environment that made Juneteenth remarkable. In this talk, Dr. Johnson shares a bit of his personal story and how this story informs his national service and passion for teaching.
We hope you will join us for the 2023 Department of Bioengineering Juneteenth Address by Dr. Kevin B. Johnson.
Date: Wednesday, June 14, 2023
Start Time: 11:00 AM ET
Location: Berger Auditorium (Skirkanich Hall basement room 013)
Meeting ID: 925 0325 6013
Following the event, a limited number of box lunches will be available for in-person attendees. If you would like a box lunch, please RSVP here by Monday, June 12 so we can get an accurate headcount.
Speaker: Kevin B. Johnson, MD, MS, FAAP, FAMIA, FACMI
David L. Cohen University Professor
Annenberg School for Communication, Bioengineering, Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics, Computer and Information Science, Pediatrics
VP for Applied Informatics (UPHS), University of Pennsylvania
Title: “A White Neighbor, a Black Surgeon, and a Mormon Computer Scientist Walk into a Bar…”
Abstract: As we recognize Juneteenth, a holiday that brings awareness to what journalist Corey Mitchell calls “…a complex understanding of the nation’s past”, we also need to understand how many of our neighbors, staff, and faculty—even those born in the last 100 years—continue to navigate through the environment that made Juneteenth remarkable. Dr. Johnson will share a bit of his personal story and how this story informs his national service and passion for teaching.
Bio: Dr. Johnson is a leader of medical information technologies to improve patient care and safety. He is well regarded and widely known for pioneering discoveries in clinical informatics, leading to advances in data acquisition, medication management, and information aggregation in medical settings.
He is a board-certified pediatrician who has aligned the powers of medicine, engineering and technology to improve the health of individuals and communities. In work that bridges biomedical informatics, bioengineering and computer science, he has championed the development and implementation of clinical information systems and artificial intelligence to drive medical research. He has encouraged the effective use of technology at the bedside, and he has empowered patients to use new tools that help them to understand how medications and supplements may affect their health. He is interested in using advanced technologies such as smart devices and in developing computer-based documentation systems for the point of care. He also is an emerging champion of the use of digital media to enhance science communication, with a successful feature-length documentary describing health information exchange, a podcast (Informatics in the Round) and most recently, a children’s book series aimed at STEM education featuring scientists underrepresented in healthcare.
Dr. Johnson holds joint appointments in the Department of Computer and Information Science of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and secondary appointments in Bioengineering and the Annenberg School for Communication. He serves as Vice President for Applied Informatics in the University of Pennsylvania Health System and as a Professor of Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Before arriving at Penn, he served as the Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he had taught since 2002. As Senior Vice President for Health Information Technology at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, he led the development of clinical systems that enabled doctors to make better treatment and care decisions for individual patients, and introduced new systems to integrate artificial intelligence into patient care workflows.
The author of more than 150 publications, Dr. Johnson has held numerous leadership positions in the American Medical Informatics Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He leads the American Board of Pediatrics Informatics Advisory Committee, directs the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Library of Medicine, and is a member of the NIH Council of Councils. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, American College of Medical Informatics and Academic Pediatric Society. He has received awards from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Academy of Pediatrics, among many others.
They will conduct research, pursue graduate degrees, or teach English in Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Israel, Latvia, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, the West Bank-Palestine territories, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Thailand.
The Fulbright Program is the United States government’s flagship international educational exchange program, awarding grants to fund as long as 12 months of international experience.
Among the Penn Fulbright grant recipients for 2023-24 is Ella Atsavapranee, from Cabin John, Maryland, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Science and a minor in chemistry from the College. She was offered a Fulbright to conduct research at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.
At Penn, Atsavapranee worked with Michael Mitchell, J. Peter and Geri Skirkanich Assistant Professor in Bioengineering, engineering lipid nanoparticles to deliver proteases that inhibit cancer cell proliferation. She has also worked with Shan Wang, Leland T. Edwards Professor in the School of Engineering and Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, using bioinformatics to discover blood biomarkers for cancer detection. To achieve more equitable health care, she worked with Lisa Shieh, Clinical Professor in Medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine, to evaluate an AI model that predicts risk of hospital readmission and study how room placement affects patient experience.
Outside of research, Atsavapranee spread awareness of ethical issues in health care and technology as editor-in-chief of the Penn Bioethics Journaland a teaching assistant for Engineering Ethics (EAS 2030). She was also a Research Peer Advisor for the Penn Center for Undergraduate Research & Fellowships (CURF), a student ambassador for the Office of Admissions, and a volunteer for Service Link, Puentes de Salud, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She plans to pursue a career as a physician-scientist to develop and translate technologies that are more affordable and accessible to underserved populations.
Read the full list of Penn Fulbright grant recipients for 2023-24 in Penn Today.
Three Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professors — Kevin Johnson, Lance Freeman and Dolores Albarracín, — each discussed their research. The audience, at least 600 in person and remote, heard about using city planning to promote racial equity, about how conspiracy theories come to life and propagate, and about the need for physicians to communicate effectively with patients and families.
Following brief remarks from Penn Alumni President Ann Reese, University President Liz Magill introduced the event. “As many of you know, I’ve been thinking a lot and speaking often about what makes Penn Penn,” she said. “What are our distinctive strengths? What are the unique contributions to society that we have made in the past and can make in the future? And where do we go from the extraordinary position we are in now?”
Magill went on to express gratitude for the speakers and invited the audience to think about how the researchers’ work and expertise furthered what she described as the “twin principles of truth and opportunity.”
He took the audience through his family history, education and training, pausing at a point on the timeline when he was a young physician-scientist who had just explained a new medical topic to a journalist. “I felt really good about the conversation — and then the article came out,” Johnson said.
In the piece, he had been cast as saying that the medical community was over-treating this condition, “which is not what I said.” He realized in that moment that as a physician, he had been taught to communicate what a study finds, not how to act based on those findings. That experience shifted his thinking on how to communicate scientific topics, and he has spent decades trying to move the needle on how others in his field perceive this.
“As scientists we face obstacles. We face the obstacle of scale, so, small projects that we’re asked to generalize. We face the issue of trust. And then we face the issue of values,” Johnson said. “I’ll add a fourth, which is format; the way we choose to reach specific audiences will be different.”
Kevin Johnson is the David L. Cohen University of Pennsylvania Professor in the Departments of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics and Computer and Information Science. As a Penn Integrates Knowlegde (PIK) University Professor, Johnson also holds appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering and Pediatrics, as well as in the Annenberg School of Communication.
Yi-An Hsieh, a fourth year Bioengineering student from Anaheim, California, worked remotely this summer on a team that spanned three labs, including the Kamoun Lab at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Hsieh credits her research on kidney graft failure with enriching her scientific skill set, exposing her to machine learning and real-time interaction with genetic datasets. In a guest post for the Career Services Blog, Hseih writes about her remote summer internship experience. “It showed me that this type of research energy that could not be dampened despite the distance,” she writes.
Congratulations to Kevin B. Johnson, David L. Cohen University Professor, on his recent appointed as a Senior Fellow in the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn LDI). Johnson, an expert in health care innovation and health information technology, holds appointments in Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics in the Perelman School of Medicine and Computer and Information Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He also holds secondary appointments in Bioengineering, Pediatrics, and in the Annenberg School of Communication and is Vice President for Applied Informatics in the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
Penn LDI is Penn’s hub for health care delivery, health policy, and population health, we connect and amplify experts and thought-leaders and train the next generation of researchers. Johnson joins over 500 Fellows from across all of Penn’s schools, the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Johnson brings expertise in Health Care Innovation, Health Information Technology, Medication Adherence, and Social Media to his new fellowship and has extensively studied healthcare informatics with the goal of improving patient care.
Kevin Johnson is used to forging his own path in the fields of healthcare and computer science.
If you ask him to locate his niche within these fields, Johnson, David L. Cohen and Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) Professor with appointments in Penn Engineering and the Perelman School of Medicine, would say “informatics.” But that doesn’t tell the whole story of the board-certified pediatrician, who has dedicated his career to innovations in how patients’ information is created, documented and shared, all with the goal of improving the quality of healthcare they receive.
Informatics, the study of the structure and behavior of interactions between natural and computational systems, is an umbrella term. Within it, there’s bioinformatics, which applies informatics to biology, and biomedical informatics, which looks at those interactions in the context of healthcare systems. Finally, there is clinical informatics, which further focuses on the settings where healthcare is delivered, and where Johnson squarely places himself.
“But you can just call it ‘informatics,’” says Johnson. “It will be easier.”
He mainly studies how computational systems can improve ambulatory care — sometimes known as outpatient care, or the kind of care hospitals give to patients without admitting them — in real time. If you’ve ever heard your doctor complain about the amount of time it takes them to input the information they get from you during your visit, or wondered why they need to capture this information during the visit in the first place, these are some of the questions Johnson is investigating.
“We’re taking care of patients but we’re getting frustrated by things that we thought these new computers should be able to fix,” says Johnson.” I think there’s a very compelling case for using engineering principles to reimagine electronic health records.”
Kevin Johnson is the David L. Cohen University of Pennsylvania Professor in the Departments of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics and Computer and Information Science. As a Penn Integrates Knowlegde (PIK) University Professor, Johnson also holds appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering and Pediatrics, as well as in the Annenberg School of Communication. Johnson is the Vice President for Applied Informatics for the University of Pennsylvania Health System and has been elected to the American College of Medical Informatics (2004), the Academic Pediatric Society (2010), the National Academy of Medicine (Institute of Medicine) (2010), and the International Association of Health Science Informatics (2021).
Kevin B. Johnson, David L. Cohen University Professor in Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics and in Computer and Information Science, has been elected to the 2022 Class of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) Fellows. Johnson joined the Penn faculty in 2021. He also holds secondary appointments in Bioengineering, in Pediatrics, and in the Annenberg School for Communication, and is the Vice President for Applied Informatics for the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer. College membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering and medicine research, practice, or education” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of medical and biological engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to bioengineering education.”
Johnson was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the AIMBE College of Fellows for his pioneering discoveries in clinical informatics, leading to advances in data acquisition, medication management, and information aggregation in medical settings.
A formal induction ceremony was held during AIMBE’s 2022 Annual Event on March 25, 2022. Johnson was inducted along with 152 colleagues who make up the AIMBE Fellow Class of 2022. For more information about the AIMBE Annual Event, please visit www.aimbe.org.
Read Johnson’s AIMBE election press release here. Find the full list of 2022 Fellows here.
Kevin B. Johnson, M.D., M.S., was featured in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s “Envisioning Our Future for Children” speaker series, discussing “the evolution of the EHR and its future directions.” An electronic health record, or EHR, is a digital record of a patient’s chart, recording health information and data, coordinating orders, tracking results, and providing patient support. Johnson “predicts a new wave of transformation in digital health technologies that could make rapid progress” in several areas of medicine, including reducing cost and improving patience outcomes. Johnson is Vice President for Applied Informatics at the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the David L. Cohen University Professor with appointments in Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics and Computer and Information Science and secondary appointments in the Annenberg School for Communication, Pediatrics, and Bioengineering.
Johnson, who has appointments in the Perelman School of Medicine and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and a secondary appointment in the Annenberg School for Communication, will become the David L. Cohen University Professor.
“David Cohen’s extraordinary leadership at the University and Penn Medicine, and longtime dedication to Philadelphia, has without a doubt shaped the booming campus, health system, and city we so much enjoy today,” says Gutmann. “His dedication is mirrored by the extraordinarily influential, innovative, and committed Dr. Kevin Johnson, whose university professorship will now bear Ambassador Cohen’s name.”
Cohen has served for two decades on Penn’s Board of Trustees and recently concluded a 12-year term as chair. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last month as United States Ambassador to Canada, bringing to the role decades of experience as a senior executive at Comcast Corp., chair of the Ballard Spahr law firm, chief of staff to Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, trustee chair at Penn, and major player in a number of other business, civic, political, and philanthropic venues.
In addition to serving as a Trustee, Cohen is a Penn alum, having graduated from what is now the University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law in 1981. His wife and son also attended the Law School. Cohen’s leadership in the University has been credited with helping guide the growth and advancement of both the University and Health System, in close partnership with both President Gutmann and her predecessor, Judith Rodin.
“It’s an honor to hold a professorship named after Mr. Cohen,” Johnson says. “Throughout his career, he has provided inspired leadership across Penn and our city and region. He is a passionate believer in uniting the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to tackle complex challenges and strengthen communities. Those who know me know that I’ve played a similar role as a pediatrician who works with technology, and who uses digital media to communicate to lay audiences about both. His passion for this city and our University’s educational mission are inspiring.”
N.B.: Johnson also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Bioengineering. Read his full appointment announcement here.