Dr. David H. Johnson was born in Dalton, Georgia. He received a bachelor’s degree in zoology (1970), now housed in the Department of Biology, and a master’s degree in botany (1972) at UK before returning to his home state to attend the Medical College of Georgia, where he received his medical degree in 1976. He served as Chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical School from 1993 to 2010. Johnson was the inaugural recipient of the Cornelius Abernathy Craig Chair in Medical and Surgical Oncology and co-founded the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. In 2010, he relocated to Dallas to assume the Donald W. Seldin Distinguished Chair in Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Johnson's research is focused on developing effective therapies for lung cancer. He has received numerous awards for his research activities. In 2014, he was named to Thomas Reuters’ list of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds. Johnson has served as chair of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and is currently a trustee of the ABIM Foundation. In 2004-2005 he served as president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and championed the development of one of the country’s first cancer survivorship programs along with a pioneering cancer quality care initiative. Johnson is an elected member of the Association of American Physicians, master of the American College of Physicians and fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.