Dr. Bernett L. Johnson, Jr.


Dr. Bernett L. Johnson, Jr. dedicated himself to the development of a primary health center that linked the resources of the University of Pennsylvania with those of the surrounding West Philadelphia community. His vision and devotion inspired the creation of the Sayre Health Center (SHC), which is named in his honor. SHC is committed to his vision of linking quality, affordable health care with education partnerships.

Bernett L. Johnson, Jr., MD (October 1932-April 2009), received his medical degree from Meharry Medical College (1957). He completed his residency in dermatology in the U.S. Navy and at the University of Pennsylvania (1961-1965), did a Fellowship in Dermatology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (1965), and was Board certified in Dermatology and Dermatopathology. He served in the Navy, rising to rank of Captain and commanded the Naval Hospital Yokosuka Japan (1977-80), where he received the Legion of Merit from the U.S, Navy. Additionally, Dr. Johnson is the author of multiple papers and textbooks.

Dr. Johnson was named Practitioner of the Year by the National Medical Association in 1993 and was frequently named one of Philadelphia magazine’s “Top Docs.” Dr. Johnson was a professor of Dermatology and Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. One of the most respected and beloved physician-educators and administrators at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), he received HUP's first Edward S. Cooper Humanitarian Award in 2005. In addition, Dr. Johnson played an instrumental role in the collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania and the then Sayre Middle School. The opening of the Sayre Health Center in September 2007 was a result of Dr. Johnson’s visionary community involvement. In 2009, the dermatology residents announced the naming of the "Dr. Bernett Johnson Award for Teaching" to be given to the faculty person that the residents feel has contributed the most to their education in a caring professional manner.

He served as Chief Medical Officer of HUP, Senior Associate Dean of Veterans Affairs, and the Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Community Outreach. An accomplished artist, Dr. Johnson was well known for his oil painting, and some of his portraits of faculty members can be found on Penn's campus and one can be found at the Sayre Health center. Dr. Johnson will be most remembered for his work in medicine, and the care he took in the treatment of patients, and for his dedication to the ideals of social justice and community partnerships