Komen Scholar Marian Johnson-Thompson

February is Black History Month. It is a celebration of the African-American culture, heritage and its accomplishments. It is also an opportunity to educate those close to you to take action and speak up when it comes to their health.

We know that despite advances in breast cancer outcomes, breast health disparities for African-American women living in the United States persist. African-American women are 41 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than Caucasian women because they are frequently diagnosed at later stages, when treatment becomes limited, costly and the prognosis is poor. They are also diagnosed younger and with more aggressive breast cancers.   

Susan G. Komen is fighting to eliminate this disparity through health equity initiatives all across the nation and breakthrough research.

In honor of Black History Month, we are highlighting some of Komen’s most passionate and inspiring advocates, including our Komen Scholars and Researchers.

Marian Johnson-Thompson, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of the District of Columbia (UDC), where she worked for 23 years and Adjunct Professor, Maternal and Child Health, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A cancer researcher, microbiologist and educator, Dr. Johnson-Thompson began her career at UDC and later joined the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), an institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she retired after 16 years as Director of Education and Biomedical Research Development.

A long-time advocate for health equity, she is frequently invited to address issues of science equity, health disparities and environmental justice, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and mentoring issues and human subjects protection.  Dr. Johnson-Thompson was NIEHS IRB Chair for 8 years.

An avid Komen supporter, she has participated in many Komen national and local programs and events, and she has been part of the Komen’s Advocate Advisory Task Force since 2014. Dr. Johnson-Thompson’s role as a mentor has been recognized by many awards. In 2009, she even received the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award from Howard and is featured as a Science History Maker, an online repository of outstanding African-American contributors, housed at the Library of Congress. This year, she was the subject of an entire chapter in “Women in Microbiology,” where the author wrote that Dr. Johnson-Thompson’s “life’s work has directly and indirectly led to the production of female scientists in academia, industry, and government, and her contribution to the pipeline continues to grow exponentially.”

To learn more about Komen San Diego and how we’re fighting for health equity amongst the African-American community, learn more about the Circle of Promise.