During a stay in Boston as a visiting professor, Martin Donner, former head of radiology at Johns Hopkins, came to know Bronwyn Jones, who was serving as the head of gastrointestinal radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He invited her to move to Johns Hopkins and she accepted, starting an illustrious and prolific career in gastrointestinal radiology, swallowing research, and mentorship. Jones was a trailblazer, becoming the first female full professor in radiology and the 28th woman to achieve professorship at Johns Hopkins Medicine. She died on May 29, 2022 at age 79. Born on November 30, 1943, in Sydney, Australia, Jones was in the first class of the medical school at the University of New South Wales. Out of 110 students enrolled in that six-year program, only 30 graduated. Out of those 30, only three were women and Jones was at the top of her class. She went on to complete her internship and residency training in medicine at the University of New South Wales teaching hospitals before moving to England in 1971 with her husband, the late Warwick L. Morison, who was a professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins.
In England, Jones finished a radiology residency at the Kings College Hospital in London followed by a fellowship at St. Thomas Hospital. In 1975, she crossed the ocean again to move to Boston where she was appointed as an instructor at the Harvard Medical School and as faculty at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In 1981 she joined Johns Hopkins. Jones maintained strong ties with the department even after her retirement and ultimately established the Bronwyn Jones, M.D. Professorship. It is the department’s first professorship named for a female faculty member, and it will support a faculty member focused in diagnostics who embodies John Hopkins Medicine’s tripartite mission of education, research, and clinical care. Dr. Jones had expressed her hope that the recipient will also share her strong passion for GI radiology, including CT and MRI of the GI tract.
As a researcher, Jones was a striking exception to the general research methodology of that time which was to only write observational articles that described what was seen using contemporary imaging techniques. Instead, Jones not only proactively conducted research to define, diagnose, and manage problems related to GI and swallowing structures, she went on to establish spaces for others to easily access the research and then build upon it. She served many leadership roles within and far beyond Johns Hopkins. Jones was director of the Johns Hopkins Swallowing Center, a founding member, past president, and one of two archivists for the Dysphagia Research Society, and a past president of the Society of Gastrointestinal Radiologists. She was the co-founder and editor-emeritus of the journal Dysphagia, she authored over 120 original papers, and over 60 chapters, and co-authored three books. Despite the immense output of work and research she was conducting, Jones was committed to mentorship and educating the next generation. In her own words, “I was just always very interested in teaching and helping people come to their full potential.”
Having served as a senior adviser for academic faculty affairs in the department, she was a close career mentor to Karen Horton, who serves as the first female director of radiology and radiological science. They connected over a shared interest in GI radiology and Jones contributed to the first piece of research published by Horton as a Johns Hopkins medical student. Horton says, “When I was a student working with Dr. Jones, I saw a female radiology professor in a very male-dominated field who was able to succeed and excel in academia. This gave me hope and confidence that I could succeed here at Hopkins.” They continued to work together as Horton went on to serve as the chief resident, each taking on new leadership roles as time continued.
Jones retired in 2015, but was elated to see Horton step into the interim director role in 2016 then become the full director in 2017, stating “One of the highlights of my career was seeing Dr. Horton become the chair of radiology. There are a lot more senior faculty who are women than there used to be, which is fabulous.” The Bronwyn Jones, M.D. Professorship is an impactful way to honor the legacy of someone who broke ground and led the field during a time when there were very few women in radiology. “I am so proud of what Dr. Jones accomplished and I am devastated that she will not be here to celebrate the professorship with us,” Horton says, “She was a personal mentor of mine, and I will miss her.”