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In Memoriam: Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Professor Emerita Fannie Gaston-Johansson


Fannie Gaston-Johansson, a beloved Johns Hopkins School of Nursing professor emerita and nursing pioneer, passed away on January 7. She was 84 years old.

Gaston-Johansson, an internationally renowned nurse educator, researcher, and clinician, was the first African-American woman to be a tenured, full professor at Johns Hopkins University.

“Dr. Gaston-Johansson led a remarkable career as a trailblazing scientist, a brilliant researcher who elevated nursing to its rightful place as a science, and as a leader in developing new methods to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in academia,” says JHSON Dean Sarah Szanton, PhD, RN, FAAN. “She broke barriers, becoming the ‘first’ many times. Countless students and colleagues have benefited from her experience, leadership, and commitment to inclusion.”

Gaston-Johansson joined the SON in 1993 and in 2007 became first chair of the school’s former Department of Acute and Chronic Care. She also served as director of the now-retired Center on Health Disparities Research whose work was foundational to today’s Center for Equity in Aging, Center for Cardiovascular and Chronic Care, and Center for Immersive Learning and Digital Innovation. Her work and research focused on pain management, quality of life, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and health disparities. She was well known for developing the Pain-O-Meter, a simple and effective pain assessment tool.

An advocate for students, Gaston-Johansson was leader of the Minority Global Health Disparities Research Training (MHIRT) Program that led 160 students in researching and finding solutions to health disparities and economic disadvantages across the world. She was named a University Distinguished Professor, a two-time recipient of the Johns Hopkins Diversity Recognition Award, and professor emerita when she retired in 2014.

During her tenure, Gaston-Johansson served on the Maryland Governor’s Task Force on Healthcare Access and Reimbursement and received many awards including the Links INC International Trends and Service Award, the National Black Nurses Association’s Trailblazer Award, Excellence in Nursing awards, and citations from the U.S. Congress for her research efforts. Gaston-Johansson was also inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame and was an elected member in the Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities in Sweden.

In May 2022, a key Johns Hopkins University initiative to increase and promote faculty diversity was named in her honor.

“Dr. Gaston-Johansson had an indelible impact on our school, the university, and the nursing profession. Her vision, mentorship, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion led nursing into the 21st century.”

Funeral arrangements

will be held at March Life Tribute Center, 5616 Old Court Rd, Windsor Mill, MD 21244, with viewing from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, January 26 and 9:30 a.m. on Friday, January 27. Celebration of Life Services will be held on Friday, January 27 promptly at 10 a.m.

Gifts in memory of Fannie Gaston-Johansson can be made to the Fannie Gaston-Johansson Faculty of Excellence Program.


Located in Baltimore, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is a globally-recognized leader in nursing education, research, and practice. In U.S. News & World Report rankings, the school is No. 1 nationally for its master’s and DNP programs. In addition, JHSON is ranked as the No. 3 nursing school in the world by QS World University and No. 1 for total NIH funding among schools of nursing for fiscal year 2020. The school is a four-time recipient of the INSIGHT Into Diversity Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award and a three-time Best School for Men in Nursing award recipient. For more information, visit www.nursing.jhu.edu.

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