USC Mourns Passing of Vice Dean Kathleen Johnson

Kathleen Johnson, vice dean of clinical affairs and outcomes sciences and chair of the Titus Family Department at the USC School of Pharmacy, died on July 24 in Bordeaux, France, resulting from injuries sustained in a fall.

Dr. Johnson was a distinguished leader in the pharmacy profession whose career was marked by innovative projects that have been integral in the current national movement to expand the role of the pharmacist as the medication expert on the health care team. Her work to improve medication use and safety generally and for vulnerable, uninsured populations specifically distinguished her with several national awards.

Just last month, Dr. Johnson was one of only twelve professionals elected to the National Academies of Practice in recognition of achievements and contributions to health care practice. Also, just last month, Dr. Johnson, as a co-investigator, was awarded a CMS Innovation grant for $12 million, the largest ever received by the USC School of Pharmacy, which aims to use pharmacists to improve health outcomes and save money among patients in safety-net clinics.

“Dr. Johnson was truly one of a kind – a wonderful person, a superb faculty member and administrator, and such an important and integral part of our School – that we will never stop missing her,” said School of Pharmacy Dean R. Pete Vanderveen. “We can only be grateful that we were privileged with the opportunity to know her and to work with her.”

Joining the faculty in 1984 as an assistant professor, Johnson assumed the chair of the Titus Family Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Economics & Policy in 2006. In 2007, she was named the William A. and Josephine A. Heeres Endowed Chair in Community Pharmacy. Her leadership extended beyond USC, and included serving on the task force of the University of California Office of the President- California Health Benefits Review Program, editorial board of the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, and the medication therapy review advisory panel of the American Pharmacists Association.

A dedicated professor, Dr. Johnson taught students pursuing the doctor of pharmacy degree as well as masters and doctoral students in public health and epidemiology and in pharmaceutical economics and policy. Her outreach work to the underserved communities in Southern California has been supported by grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration (Health and Human Services), UniHealth Foundation, QueensCare Foundation, Wellpoint Foundation, among others.

Dr. Johnson is the author of over 50 papers and book chapters which have been published by leading pharmacy and managed care journals. Her clinical work has been featured in USA Today, Reuters and the LA Times. Her expertise established her as a sought after speaker among pharmacy professionals worldwide.

Dr. Johnson earned her PharmD from the USC School of Pharmacy in 1978. She received her MPH in 1983 and her PhD in health services research in 1991, both from the University of California-Los Angeles. Her career has been recognized with numerous awards, including the American Pharmacists Association Pinnacle Award (group recognition in 2007), American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Best Practices Award (group recognition in 2008), and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Transformative Community Service Awards (group recognition, 2009).

With a keen eye to unmet needs, Dr. Johnson was a leader in establishing clinical pharmacy practices in safety net clinics throughout Southern California. She also spearheaded an effort to prevent accidental poisonings among children through educational programming for children and parents in schools with largely Spanish-speaking populations. Her innovative approach paired service learning activities for pharmacy students with unmet community needs, providing students experience in serving diverse populations.

Dr. Johnson also actively pursued research focusing on the hemophilia and the barriers to care that exist among those with this disease. She has co-authored papers on this topic, with a special interest in care improvement and cost of care for hemophilia patients. During her trip to France, Dr. Johnson was a featured speaker at the World Federation Hemophilia Conference.

A renowned international speaker and advisor on pharmacy issues, Dr. Johnson lectured extensively throughout Europe, Asia and South America throughout her career. In 2004, she was a visiting scientist for Japan’s Department of Health and Labor. Last May, she was an external examiner for The School of Pharmacy of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Dr. Johnson was a member of the American and California Pharmacists Associations, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, and the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. Prior to joining USC, she served as a pharmacist at California State University-Dominguez Hills Student Health and at Torrance Memorial Hospital. Early in her career, she worked as an intern for the World Health Organization, Pharmaceuticals Division, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Surviving Dr. Johnson is her husband, Wynnsan Moore, their two children, Kimberly and Alex, and her parents, Keet and Dorothy Johnson. Kimberly will enter the USC School of Pharmacy as a PharmD student next month.

The School of Pharmacy will host a Celebration of Dr. Johnson’s Life at the Health Sciences Campus Quad, on Friday, August 24, 3 PM. A reception will be held immediately following the program. All are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, friends may honor Dr. Johnson’s memory by donating to the Dr. Kathleen Johnson Endowed Legacy Fund at the USC School of Pharmacy which has been established to continue her transformational work at the School and support her vision for the future of the pharmacy profession. Donations may be sent to USC School of Pharmacy, Attention: Jennifer Watson, 1985 Zonal Avenue, Suite #712, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9121. Please make checks payable to the USC School of Pharmacy, noting “Dr. Kathleen Johnson Endowed Legacy Fund” in the memo of the check.