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Johnna M. Frierson

Assistant Professor of the Practice of Medical Education
Medical Education
203 Research Drive, Box 2604, Box 90271, Durham, NC 27708
203 Research Dr, Durham, NC 27710


Johnna M. Frierson, PhD, a native of Rock Hill, SC, received her bachelor’s degree in Biology at Furman University, and PhD in Microbiology & Immunology at Vanderbilt University. Currently, her interests and expertise lie in examining and identifying solutions to challenges at the intersection of STEM, education, and equity. Dr. Frierson translates this expertise into developing innovative programs and initiatives to enhance recruitment and retention of trainees from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds, support scientific development, and expand community outreach to inspire the next generation of STEM scholars.

Bringing over a decade of experience at both public and private institutions, she has a demonstrated track record of developing successful diversity recruitment and educational initiatives, spearheading cross-campus and inter-institutional partnerships, and implementing impactful mentoring programs for trainees from groups historically excluded in STEM. She has obtained funding from a variety of sources to support her programmatic efforts including donor-funded gifts, and grants through the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, NSF, and NIH. Her passion and work have drawn notice nationally as Dr. Frierson has been interviewed by The New York Times, featured in Science magazine, and identified as one of “1000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America” by Cell Mentor.

In her current role as the Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for the Basic Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine she leads the IDEALS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Advancement, and Leadership in the Sciences) office. Dr. Frierson and her team develop and implement educational interventions, pathway programs, and partner with basic science departmental faculty and leaders to cultivate an equitable and supportive research environment for all.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Assistant Professor of the Practice of Medical Education · 2019 - Present Medical Education, School of Medicine

Education, Training & Certifications

Vanderbilt University · 2012 Ph.D.