Jennifer E. Johnson, PhD


C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health
Professor of OBGYN
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine

Dr. Jennifer E. Johnson is the first C. S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health at Michigan State University.

She is a licensed clinical psychologist who conducts policy-relevant randomized trials of effectiveness cost-effectiveness, and implementation of mental health and substance use interventions for vulnerable populations, including perinatal women and individuals involved in the criminal justice system. She has been Principal Investigator of fourteen research studies funded by the National Institutes of Health, and Co-Investigator of another thirteen. 

Dr. Johnson’s studies include the first large randomized trial of any treatment for major depressive disorder in an incarcerated population, the first randomized trial of suicide prevention for justice-involved individuals, and an extensive study of the scale-up of a postpartum depression prevention program in 90 prenatal clinics serving low-income women nationally.

She has also researched interventions for HIV prevention, sexual assault and partner violence prevention, and perinatal bipolar disorder. Her overall goals are to improve well-being, increase agency, and reduce preventable suffering of women and girls, justice-involved individuals, and Flint-area citizens. Her policy goals include reducing incarceration rates and preventing gender-based violence. 

Approach to Leadership and Governance
Dr. Johnson is committed to participatory research, leadership, and governance processes to promote equity, expand impact, empower the traditionally unempowered, and elevate their perspectives and contributions to solutions.

After spending more than a decade as faculty at Brown University, she came to MSU to help MSU build its new Division of Public Health in partnership with the Flint community. The result, the only academic unit in the country developed fully in partnership with those it seeks to serve, has been extremely successful in terms of federal research dollars and sustained community change, providing proof of concept and support for the power of participatory processes. 

As the Vice Chair of the MSU Faculty Senate, Dr. Johnson represents more than 5,700 faculty and academic staff to the University President, Provost, and Board of Trustees. She leads Health Affairs and College-wide initiatives to elevate the voices of sexual assault survivors, create a trauma-informed climate for College faculty and staff, and help the College meet its mission to serve the vulnerable. Her research often uses community-participatory designs. She serves on local, state, and national Boards and policy committees. 

people at a dinning table

Selected Publications:
Johnson, J. E., Stout, R. L., Miller, T., R., Zlotnick, C., Cerbo, L. A., Andrade, J. T., Nargiso, J., Bonner, J., Wiltsey-Stirman, S. (2019).  Randomized cost-effectiveness trial of group interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) for prisoners with major depression.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 87(4), 392-406.  PMC6482450.

Johnson, J. E., Wiltsey-Stirman, S., Sikorskii, A., Miller, T., King, A., Blume, J. L., Pham, X., Moore Simas, T. A., Poleshuck, E., Weinberg, R., & Zlotnick, C. (2018).  Protocol for the ROSE Sustainment (ROSES) Study, a sequential multiple assignment randomized trial to determine the minimum necessary intervention to maintain a postpartum depression prevention program in prenatal clinics serving low-income women.  Implementation Science, 13, 115.  PMC6106826.

McCauley, H., Richie, F. J., Hughes, S., Johnson, J.E., Zlotnick, C., Rosen, R. K., Wechsberg, W. M., Kuo, C. C. (2019).  The influences of power on intimate relationships among incarcerated women with histories of trauma.  Violence Against Women.

Johnson, J. E., Key, K., & the Flint Water Community Narrative Group (2018).  Credit where credit is due: Race and recognition in responses to the drinking water crisis in Flint.  Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, 12(2), 215-221. 

Johnson, J.E., Schonbrun, Y.C., Anderson, B., Kurth, M., Timko C, & Stein, M. (2017). Study protocol: Community Links to Establish Alcohol Recovery for women leaving jail. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 55, 39-46.  PMC5449123

Johnson, J. E., Price, A. B., Kao, J. C., Fernandes, K., Stout, R. L., Gobin, R., & Zlotnick, C. (2016).  Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) for major depression following perinatal loss: A pilot randomized controlled trial.  Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 19(5), 845-859.  PMC6372988. doi:10.1007/s00737-016-0625-5. 

Kuo, C. C., Rosen, R. K., Zlotnick, C., Wechsberg, W. M., Peabody, M., & *Johnson, J. E. (2019).  Sexual health prevention for incarcerated women: Eroticizing safe sex during re-entry to the community.  BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health, 45, 17-22. 

Johnson, J. E. (2014).  Integrating psychotherapy research with public health and public policy goals for incarcerated women and other vulnerable populations.  Psychotherapy Research, 24(2), 229-239.   PMC3946394.

Selected Media Coverage:


Scheduling: For inquiries, please contact Morgan Morgan,, 810-600-9126.





Scholarly Interests

  • Mental health and substance use interventions for vulnerable populations 
  • Perinatal women and justice-involved populations (e.g., prisoners and jail detainees)
  • Community-engaged and participatory approaches to research, leadership, and governance

Dr. Johnson’s CV


Google Scholar

Research Projects

Research Teams

Johnson MSU Research Team

Johnson Brown Research Team 


Adjunct/Affiliate Status 

C. S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health

Professor of OBGYN, Michigan State University

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Michigan State University

Adjunct faculty, Brown University Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior

Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights, Providence, RI

Michigan Governor’s Public Health Advisory Council

MSU Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence

MSU Center for Gender in Global Context


T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship,
Treatment Research,
Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior,
Brown University

Ph.D., Clinical Psychology,
Brigham Young University

B.S., Applied Physics,
Brigham Young University


MSU Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology