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Johns Hopkins University Expands Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships

50 additional scholars will work in collaborative groups focused on solving global challenges

Dec. 14, 2021
CONTACT: Jill Rosen
Cell: 443-547-8805
jrosen@jhu.edu jhunews@jhu.edu

Johns Hopkins University announced today it will recruit an additional 50 Bloomberg Distinguished Professors (BDPs), doubling the current cohort of BDPs at the university. These world-class faculty members will lead research into the shared challenges facing humanity, and foster interdisciplinary collaboration across the institution. This new investment will double the total number of BDPs to 100 and make this interdisciplinary research program the largest of its kind in the nation.

A new commitment from Hopkins alumnus Michael R. Bloomberg will launch a second phase of the highly successful Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships program, which has already made lasting impacts in fields such as cancer research, health and environmental equity, and global food systems. Consistent with the first 50 BDPs, these interdisciplinary researchers will serve as “academic bridges” by holding appointments in at least two schools or divisions across the institution. In exceptional cases, they also may be appointed in two or more diverse departments within a single school. All BDPs conduct and stimulate innovative research that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries and train a new generation of collaborative scholars.

Recent pioneering work by current BDPs includes: Leading in the generation of the first complete assembly of a human genome to date; discovering and characterizing new planets outside of the Solar System; demonstrating the role of ageing in cancer development; developing cutting edge gene editing technology; and driving the national conversation on health equity. These new faculty will work together in focused clusters to conduct transformational research in crucial fields such as artificial intelligence, the health effects of climate change, racial equity, neuroscience, and pandemic preparedness and response.

Novel to this second BDP gift is an endowment to support cutting-edge equipment and core facilities at Johns Hopkins. Co-location of these new faculty is a key factor in advancing the collaboration across disciplines to accelerate solutions and will create opportunities for senior faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral scholars to unleash new bounds of creativity and innovation. The clusters will also expand training programs and convene scholars from across the world in these areas.

“The first 50 BDPs have been incredibly effective in building bridges across disciplines, enabling them to pursue novel avenues of research and become leaders at every level,” said Johns Hopkins University president Ron Daniels. “Mike Bloomberg’s eagerness to expand on that success by supporting new groups of BDPs conducting research of strategic importance to humanity is testament to his determination to tackle the biggest problems and pursue the biggest opportunities, and we are honored to have that happen here at Johns Hopkins.”

“Our most pressing global challenges span many fields and geographies – and to take them on, we need more talented researchers who can do the same,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th Mayor of New York City. “The Bloomberg Distinguished Professors at JHU have made important strides already, on climate change, public health challenges, racial and economic inequities, and so many other issues. To make even more progress saving and improving lives, I’m glad to expand the program and help bring new groups of bright and accomplished scholars to the Hopkins community.”

To help develop this second phase of the BDP program, university leadership asked the Johns Hopkins faculty to propose BDP clusters focusing on crucial areas of research. Nine clusters were chosen at the culmination of an external review process, encompassing strategic areas that can best be advanced by uniting multiple scholars and researchers around areas of promise and impact, a number of which are led by existing BDPs. Of the 50 new BDP positions, 38 will be dedicated to these cluster hires, along with 38 new junior faculty positions funded by the university. Building on existing strengths at Johns Hopkins, these clusters will each recruit four to twelve new faculty members. The institution is proud of the program’s excellence and diversity, and will ensure this trend continues into the next phase.

The remaining twelve BDP positions will be dedicated to other areas alongside gifts backing the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs and the SNF Agora Institute, among other recent investments.

“We are eager to start the process of faculty recruitment for these exciting new BDP clusters with the goal of making an impact as soon as possible,” said Provost and Senior Vice President Sunil Kumar. “These scholars have the potential to mobilize the talents of colleagues across Hopkins around leading research questions, and to increase diversity and collaboration.”

The nine selected cluster areas are:

Advancing Racial Equity in Health, Housing, and Education: This cluster will make Johns Hopkins the world leader in solution-focused practices and policies to promote racial justice in health, housing, and education (HHE) for young people. The team will have expertise in achieving racial justice in HHE, with the goal of developing and testing promising practices and translating them into policy solutions at scale.
Leads: Odis Johnson Jr. and Tamar Mendelson

Artificial Intelligence & Society. This cluster will establish world-class leadership in Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications to serve society. It will bridge core strengths of computer sciences, social sciences, and ethics to mitigate risks of injustice and maximize benefits of societal good. Additional AI-X positions are in the process of being defined. They will focus on AI research in areas of strategic opportunity for Johns Hopkins researchers to advance critical subfields and create new tools with an emphasis on improving the human condition.
Leads: Anton Dahbura, Lingxin Hao, Cara LaPointe, and Debra Mathews

Brain Resilience Across the Lifespan: New discoveries and knowledge about the human brain have provided researchers unprecedented opportunities to develop effective strategies to enhance and preserve brain function. This cluster will study brain resilience across the entire human lifespan and develop novel tools for observing and manipulating brain function on broad spatial and temporal scales.
Leads: Richard Huganir and Patricia Janak

Climate, Resilience and Health: Addressing the complex problem of climate change will require humanity to identify and promote solutions that maximize synergies and minimize conflicts between human health and climate adaptation and mitigation. Through the creation of the Johns Hopkins Climate Initiative, this cluster will develop mitigation and adaptation strategies to combat the health effects of climate change in an equitable, adoptable, sustainable and economically feasible manner.
Leads: Anand Gnanadesikan and Marsha Wills-Karp

Epigenome Sciences: This cluster will develop new insights in the fundamental areas of genome biology and epigenomics through the use of new imaging technologies, genome editing, single-cell techniques, and advanced computational and quantitative methods. Cluster scientists aim to discover fundamental principles linking the architecture, function and variation in the genome and epigenome to human health and disease.
Leads: Taekjip Ha, Michael Schatz, Cynthia Wolberger and Carl Wu

Hub for Imaging and Quantum Technologies: Measurement science is experiencing a revolution driven by breakthroughs in imaging and quantum-enabled technologies which are expected to exceed the capabilities of traditional tools. This cluster brings together diverse expertise in metrology and sensing in order to open new frontiers in diverse fields including fundamental particle physics and quantum materials, chemical reactivity, biological processes and medicine.
Leads: Taekjip Ha, Joan Hoffmann, David Kaplan and Thomas Kempa

Knowledge to Action and the Business of Health: This cluster will address the pressing social need of achieving better health outcomes in light of ever-rising health spending. Promising discoveries for meeting this challenge often fail to become widely adopted in the face of numerous complexities. This transdisciplinary cluster will generate solutions aimed at aligning incentives and integrating the science of systems, economics, and management.
Leads: Kathryn McDonald, Daniel Polsky, Valerie Suslow and Kathleen Sutcliffe

Preparing and Responding to Emerging Pandemics: This cluster will address key gaps in computational methods from modeling to phylogenomics and One Health. This investment will ensure a group of interdisciplinary faculty who can rapidly leverage existing tools, expertise and relationships to guide evolving scientific inquiry and policy decisions around current and future pandemics.
Leads: Joseph Mankowski and Shruti Mehta

Sustainable Transformations and Energy: This cluster unites scientists, engineers, and market and policy experts with interests aligned toward solving critical technological and societal problems arising from the use of unsustainable chemicals and materials, fossil fuels and other anthropogenic, environmentally harmful substances.
Leads: Paul Ferraro, David Goldberg, Benjamin Schafer and Chao Wang                                                                                         

Bloomberg, a 1964 graduate of Johns Hopkins, first endowed the BDP program in 2013. That gift is part of his extraordinary support for his alma mater, including the recent creation of the Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative which is growing the diversity of STEM PhD programs, transformative investments in health care through creation of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, the Charlotte Bloomberg Children’s Center, and his $1.8 billion donation to ensure undergraduate admissions are need blind in perpetuity. Starting with a $5 donation the year after he graduated, Bloomberg now stands as the greatest single supporter of any institution of higher education in history.

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