Bonnielin Swenor

Bonnielin Swenor, a female with blonde hair wearing a navy suit jacket and light pink blouse, stands in front of a window overlooking a city scape.

Bonnielin Swenor, PhD

The Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center

“To me, mentoring is an opportunity to foster the next generation of leaders, and endless opportunities to continue to learn, grow, and improve personally. Being a mentor gives me hope for the future, helps me heal from the past, and keeps me fighting in the present.”

We are proud to induct Bonnielin Swenor into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

Bonnielin Swenor, PhD, is the founder and inaugural director of the Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center, which addresses health inequities for people with disabilities and focuses on establishing evidence, developing strategies, and shaping policy to maximize health, inclusion, and equity for people with disabilities. The Center is built on a foundation of inclusion, and has a core mission to foster the careers of emerging disability research leaders.

Dr. Swenor’s career is motivated by her personal experience with visual impairment, and her research has identified inequities in employment, health, and healthcare for people with vision loss. Her work has additionally focused on understanding how vision loss impacts health and aging across the lifespan, and she co-leads an international consortium on sensory aging research, the Sense Network, and co-authored the 2019 World Health Organization (WHO) World Report on Vision and the Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health.

Dr. Swenor oversees a large portfolio of ongoing disability research. This includes projects addressing health inequities for people with disabilities, documenting and addressing gaps in the COVID-19 response for the disability community, developing strategies to include more people with disabilities in research, and improving our understanding of how social determinants of health impact health and societal inclusion disabled people.

Dr. Swenor is a fierce advocate for including people with disabilities in research and medicine. Her landmark research has documented the underrepresentation of researchers and clinicians with disabilities and outlined strategies to enhance disability inclusion in these settings. Most recently, she was awarded an innovative grant from the National Institute of Health to create an international network that supports the career development of researchers with vision impairments and address barriers to science for people with disabilities.

Dr. Swenor received a master of public health and doctorate degree in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the National Institute on Aging. In addition to directing the Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center, she is currently an associate professor at The Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute and the Epidemiology Department at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has advised many organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization, and the National Institute of Health. Her research has been published in top academic journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and The Lancet, and she has been highlighted in media outlets, such as the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, NBC News, and National Public Radio (NPR).