Episode 9: Bonnie Swenor

Bonnie Swenor, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins and of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Dr. Bonnielin Swenor's research aims to improve the health of persons with disabilities, by transforming traditional thinking on health disparities research. Over the past decade, there has been an increased focus on identifying and addressing health disparities among racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic minority groups; however, persons with disabilities have largely been absent from these efforts. Motivated by her personal experience with a vision impairment and resulting disability, Dr. Swenor is working to address this gap. Her work has focused on three interrelated areas: (1) determining the impact of visual impairments on long-term health and aging outcomes, (2) documenting healthcare disparities and improving healthcare utilization, quality, and access for those with vision loss; and (3) enhancing the inclusion of persons with visual impairments and other disabilities in the biomedical workforce. This research has sparked a reframing of importance of visual impairment on overall health, helped to reclassify visual impairment as a health disparity, and highlighted the need to include people with disabilities in science and medicine –which is critical to driving scientific innovation and improving patient care. Seeing the impact and broad applicability of this work, Dr. Swenor is now expanding her research framework, using an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach, to establish the evidence needed to design effective policies and programs that will reduce health disparities for persons with all types of disabilities.