Meet PREVAIL Team Member Dr. Kumblytee Johnson, Site Physician, Clinical Investigator and Principal Investigator, Based in Liberia

The daughter of two nurses, Dr. Kumblytee Johnson spent much of her childhood in hospitals, even occasionally going on rounds with her parents. One day, she overheard a female patient say she didn’t feel comfortable seeing a male doctor. Moved by the woman’s discomfort, she knew then that she wanted to be a doctor. She understood that female patients wanted and needed more women in healthcare.

Dr. Johnson joined the Partnership for Research on Vaccines and Infectious Diseases in Liberia (PREVAIL) team in September of 2015 and became an FHI Clinical employee through the partnership in September of 2020. She carries the responsibilities of many roles in addition to her role as a licensed Liberian medical doctor. Dr. Johnson offers insight, expertise and guidance to her colleagues on a daily basis as:

The PREVAIL research network was established in 2014 by the Liberian Ministry of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to foster international relationships to help end the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic. Originally, the network focused on clinical research for Ebola therapeutics and vaccines. Efforts have since shifted to a long-term network that researches many other diseases of public health importance in Liberia. Today, the PREVAIL network is governed by multiple global organizations and has active studies for Ebola, HIV, malaria and COVID-19.
Dr. Johnson received her Doctor of Medicine degree from A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine in Monrovia, Liberia. She also holds a Master of Science in public health with a concentration in epidemiology from Cuttington University, also in Monrovia, Liberia.
“As a researcher, I like that we try to answer mostly population questions by understanding the population’s disease burden around who is infected, how many people are infected, where (and in which community) it’s occurring, when it started and its nature. Because these fields are very important and difficult to separate, the step I took to become a site physician has given me additional skills and experiences,” she said.
The FHI Clinical-PREVAIL Partnership
FHI Clinical has supported the PREVAIL research network since its inception in 2014, and we expanded our role to full operational management in September 2020. We provide experienced oversight, facilitate the execution and contractual requirements of all in-country logistics, and help sustain the ability of the network’s research-ready sites to conduct high-quality studies in collaboration with sponsors and research teams.
Dr. Johnson strives to use these skills not only with every patient but also with her colleagues and staff. When the first COVID-19 wave hit Liberia in 2020, Dr. Johnson’s study staff were wary of moving forward with studies and participants for fear of catching or spreading the disease.
“My colleague and I helped develop an infection prevention and control training for our study staff, which made them confident to continue our studies without staff or subjects getting infected when we reopened the sites,” said Dr. Johnson.
The work she puts into supporting her team is reciprocated.

“They [the study team] have good team spirit and are willing to go the extra mile anytime,” she said. “I am proud of the people I work with.”

Motivated by tangible change in the lives of her patients, Dr. Johnson finds inspiration in seeing her work spark progress.
“It’s exciting to see research activities extending into institutions in Liberia whose results are published to help clinicians in treatment and preventive measures,” she said. “It’s motivating to see policy makers use the research results to make informed decisions and policies for the betterment of the country.”
As passionate as she once was when she realized she wanted to follow her parents’ footsteps in healthcare, Dr. Johnson doesn’t waver in the face of a challenge.

“My experiences have taught me that every career has challenges, but how you overcome those challenges determines your path,” she said.

When asked what she would advise aspiring clinical researchers, Dr. Johnson said, “Nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself, remain focused, work hard and never underestimate the potential you have when you set goals. With persistence, your dream will come true.”
This project was funded, in whole or in part, with federal funds from the National Cancer Institute contract number 75N91019D00024 Task Orders 75N91019F00130, 75N91020F00004, 75N91019F00129, 75N91019F00131, 75N91020F00005, 75N91019F00137 and/or HHSN261201500003I Task Order HHSN261000033, HHSN261000043 and HHSN261000059.

more team members

Meet Daniel Joffe, Senior Clinical Project Manager, Based in South Africa

Meet Daniel Joffe, Senior Clinical Project Manager at FHI Clinical. “It can be a tough job­ — but it’s the most amazing feeling when things come together, for example, when a site or study is initiated. You look back and see what we accomplished as a team. That’s the reward — when you know that all the hard work paid off. That’s what keeps me motivated.”

Read More »