Johns Hopkins' first African-American department head is leading a charge of change

Bridging the Gap

BALTIMORE - Robert Higgins, M.D. is a cardiothoracic and heart-lung transplant surgeon and also the director of the department of surgery for Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine.

Higgins is Johns Hopkins' first African-American department head and is on a mission to diversify the medical field throughout the country.  

"Can you imagine in a country with a population with over three-hundred million that less than 1,000 African-American men enter the field of medicine per year," said Higgins.

Higgins recently served as the keynote speaker at Hopkins' Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration in January. 

"I use to say that I am not the most qualified black surgeon for this job, I'm the most qualified surgeon for this job. The fact that I happen to be coincidentally African-American makes it just that sweeter. But it does not diminish the accomplishment," Higgins said.

Higgins said his mother is his biggest inspiration and attributes her sacrifices to his success.

"My mom is my hero and my role model," he said. "She committed her life to our success. She made so many sacrifices to ensure we didn't follow the wrong path."

Higgins continues to mentor young professionals entering the medical field and hopes to help provide opportunities for underrepresented people in communities around the nation. 

Bridging the Gap celebrates Black History Month by sharing the stories of Baltimore's African American history.

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