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S. Claiborne “Clay” Johnston, M.D., Ph.D.


Harvard Medical School

Ph.D., Epidemiology
University of California, Berkeley


Residency, Neurology
University of California, San Francisco


Clay Johnston, M.D., Ph.D., is a special assistant to the president and provost at The University of Texas at Austin and professor in the Department of Neurology at Dell Medical School. From 2014-2021, Johnston served as Dell Med’s inaugural dean, leading the first medical school built from the ground up at a top-tier research university in nearly 50 years. He is also a neurologist, specializing in stroke care and research.

In 2019, Johnston was elected to the National Academy of Medicine which recognizes leaders for extraordinary professional achievement and commitment to serving others. In 2016, he was named Austinite of the Year by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce for his leadership in transforming health and health care in Austin.

Previously, Johnston was associate vice chancellor for research at the University of California, San Francisco. He also directed the Clinical and Translational Science Institute and founded the UCSF Center for Healthcare Value to engage faculty and trainees in improving the quality of care while also lowering costs.

He is a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Medical School. He later received a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a resident in Neurology at UCSF, where he later trained in Vascular Neurology. During his 20 years at UCSF, he rose the academic ranks to professor of Neurology and Epidemiology, and directed the stroke service.

Johnston has authored more than 300 publications in scientific journals and has won several national awards for his research and teaching. In particular, he has published extensively in the prevention and treatment of stroke and transient ischemic attack. He is perhaps best known for his studies describing the short-term risk of stroke in patients with transient ischemic attack and identifying patients at greatest risk, and also for his work related to measuring the impact of research. He has led several large cohort studies of cerebrovascular disease and three international multi-center randomized trials, two of which are ongoing.