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Rachel Lyn Johnson Thornton, M.D., Ph.D.

Headshot of Rachel Lyn Johnson Thornton
  • Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Languages: English, Spanish


Adolescent Medicine, General Pediatrics, Pediatrics more

Research Interests

Racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care; Childhood obesity; Social determinants of health more

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Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

Appointment Phone: 410-550-0967
4940 Eastern Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21224 map

Johns Hopkins Pediatrics

200 N. Wolfe Street
Rubenstein Child Health Building
Baltimore, MD 21287 map


Dr. Rachel Thornton is associate professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She holds a joint appointment in the Department of Health, Behavior, and Society in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She also serves as Associate Medical Director for Pediatric Managed Care in the Office of Johns Hopkins Physicians.

A practicing primary care pediatrician at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Children’s Medical Practice, she studies the impacts of social and behavioral factors on child health and health equity and the impacts of non-health sector policies child health and family well-being. 

Dr. Thornton received her BA from New York University and her MD and PhD from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health respectively. She also completed Pediatrics residency and general academic pediatrics fellowship training at Johns Hopkins. more


  • Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • MD; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2004)


  • Pediatrics; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2007)


  • Pediatrics; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2009)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Pediatrics (Pediatrics) (2007)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Thornton’s research examines racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care, with a focus on childhood obesity. She has been the PI and project director on a qualitative pilot study in 10 Baltimore City neighborhoods funded by the DC-Baltimore Research Center on Child Health Disparities to examine parents' and children's perceptions of neighborhood influences on child diet and physical activity behaviors.

Her research emphasizes social determinants of health, interdisciplinary approaches to research, and use of mixed methodologies to identify modifiable mechanisms for racial/ethnic disparities in child health. Dr. Thornton is committed to informing the development of novel interventions that improve population health by addressing individual-, family- and community-level factors to reduce and eliminate child health disparities in general and disparities in child and adolescent obesity in particular.

Activities & Honors


  • Small Grants Program, Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, 2011
  • White House Fellow, 2010 - 2011
  • Pilot Grant Program Recipient, The Center for Behavior and Health, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
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