Botwc Firsts

She Just Became The First Black Woman To Chair A Department At Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

She Just Became The First Black Woman To Chair A Department At Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Is there a doctor in the house?!

Dr. Namandje Bumpus is making history as the first Black woman to serve as department chair at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and currently the only Black woman in the U.S. to chair a pharmacology department, Diverse Education reports.

She follows in the footsteps of other pioneering women in STEM such as, Dolores Cooper Shockley. In 1988, Shockley became the first black woman to chair a pharmacology department in the U.S. at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.

Bumpus has had a long road in academia, pursuing a career in the sciences where many Black scholars receive much undue criticism, overt, and covert forms of racism. She began her career at John Hopkins in 2010 as an assistant professor, eventually working her way up to associate professor, eventually becoming the school’s first associate dean for institutional and student equity. 

She continued to persist, becoming a trailblazer in her field and making history while doing it. In May, the school announced that she would become director of the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Bumpus is the first Black woman to lead a department at the school of medicine and the only Black women chairing that particular department in the U.S. 

While Bumpus was elated, the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial uprisings overshadowed her joy, reminding her of the necessity for change not only in her department but in medicine as a whole.

“It was hard to be as joyful as I should have been because of the emotion of everything that I saw happening in the world. I definitely felt a heaviness," she said. "What’s happening in the wider world parallels what’s happening in the culture of academic science, not just at Hopkins.”

 

 

Even with such outstanding accomplishments under her belt, Bumpus still consistently deals with superfluous racist tweets and emails. She has channeled her frustration into fighting against bias by mentoring underrepresented scholars, taking a critical look at the lack of STEM pipelines into the field of pharmacology, and participating in groundbreaking research that is more inclusive of Black populations. 

Bumpus hopes that her work will help usher in even more change for the University, holding fast to the notion that despite taking 130 years for her appointment, Hopkins is still at the forefront of diversity and inclusion in the medical field. 

“Being an African American woman in science, I had not only the glass ceiling but the solitude of often being first. One of the reasons I push and work so hard for these leadership roles is I feel like I need to be there as an advocate, and I need to be there as an example,” Bumpus said.

Congratulations, Dr. Bumpus!

Photo Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Medicine