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Dr. Bankole Johnson, new chairman of psychiatric medicine

Dr. Bankole Johnson By Abena Foreman-Trice

Dr. Bankole Johnson, one of the United Kingdom’s leading doctors and an expert on addictions, joined the Health System on Sept. 1 as chairman of the Department of Psychiatric Medicine and as a professor in the Department of Neurology.

“It is an honor to have such a prominent physician as Bankole Johnson here at U.Va. Health System,” said Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., vice president and dean of the School of Medicine. “This appointment demonstrates our ability to attract top physicians to aggressively lead the Health System in all areas of medicine.”

A practicing physician and psychiatrist widely known throughout the United States and Europe, Johnson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the areas of alcohol and drug addiction to the Health System and the East Coast. Johnson’s research integrates the study of brain functions — known as neuroscience — and the behavioral aspects of addiction medicine. He is also working to develop an understanding of the basic underpinnings of drug-seeking behavior by determining whether certain types of alcoholics have functional or structural abnormalities at the molecular level in the brain.

“ I look forward to being able to develop new knowledge within the walls of an institution that understands the link between the basic sciences and the clinical aspects of health care,” said Johnson. “Through these means, we can hopefully develop one of the best psychiatric medicine departments in the country.”

During his tenure at U.Va., Johnson hopes to establish an addictions center in Charlottesville and at least two other communities in Virginia.
Johnson graduated from Glasgow University in 1982 with a degree in medicine, and trained in psychiatry at the Royal London and Maudsley and Bethlem Royal Hospitals. Johnson also trained in research at the Institute of Psychiatry (University of London) and at Oxford Univer-
sity. Additionally, he received a doctoral degree for his research in psychopharmacology from the University of Glasgow.

Prior to accepting the U.Va. appointment, Johnson served as the Wurzbach Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry & Pharmacology; the deputy chairman for research; chief of the Division of Alcohol & Drug Addiction; and director for the START center at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

He has been listed in Best Doctors in the United Kingdom since 1991 and was inducted into the Texas Hall of Fame for Science, Mathematics and Technology in 2003. Johnson also received the Dan Anderson Research Award in 2001 for his “distinguished contribution as a researcher who has advanced the scientific knowledge of addiction recovery.”

He has published more than 100 articles on psychopharmacology and addiction and has served on numerous National Institutes of Health committees and special panels. In 2003 he was invited to serve on the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse by Tommy G. Thompson, the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Johnson’s wife, Dr. Lynda Wells, also joined the Health System as an anesthesiologist.



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