Rachel J Thornton, MD, PhD

Dr. Thornton is an assistant professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University in the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.  Dr. Thornton is a former White House Fellow and served as a Health Policy Advisor to senior staff at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 2011-2012 where she worked on the National Prevention Strategy and Implementation Plan.  Her policy work addresses Health in All Policies with an emphasis on housing, community development, and urban planning policy.

Dr. Thornton’s research focuses on childhood obesity and cardiovascular disease risk, health disparities, and social determinants of health.  She has particular expertise in racial/ethnic disparities in heath and health care. She is committed to informing the development of novel interventions to eliminate health disparities by addressing individual-, family-, and community-level factors that contribute to disparities in child and adolescent obesity and cardiovascular disease risk. Her work is interdisciplinary and emphasizes use of mixed methods. In 2009 she directed a health impact assessment (HIA) of Baltimore City’s comprehensive zoning code rewrite, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (PI: Ellen). This work was recognized as an exemplary HIA by the Society of Practitioners of Health Impact Assessment. The HIA and follow-up work funded by the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute (PI: Thornton) significantly impacted urban planning policy in Baltimore City and resulted in changes to the City’s proposed zoning code ordinance.

Dr. Thornton is a board certified general pediatrician who maintains a primary care practice at the Children’s Medical Practice at Johns Hopkins Bayview where she also teaches residents. Additionally, she serves as a mentor to General Academic Pediatrics Fellows, residents, students in the School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health.