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Dr. James D. Griffin Becomes First Black President Of Medical Staff At Segregated Hospital He Was Born In 

James D. Griffin, M.D., has a lifelong connection to UT Southwestern and Parkland Memorial Hospital, beginning with his birth at Parkland in 1958. He has achieved significant milestones, including being elected as the first Black President of the medical staff at the hospital. Dr. Griffin's medical journey includes graduating from UT Southwestern Medical School in 1986, completing a residency in anesthesiology, and becoming a faculty member there—the school's first Black graduate to do so.

Dr. Griffin is a Distinguished Teaching Professor and Vice Chair of Anesthesiology and Pain Management at UT Southwestern, as well as a fellow/member of the Southwestern Academy of Teachers. His career is marked by significant contributions to medical education and clinical excellence, for which he received UTSW’s 2021 Leaders in Clinical Excellence Institutional Service Award.

“To educate, discover, and heal is a very powerful goal and dimension of UT Southwestern,” Dr. Griffin said. “I feel it today as well I did in August 1982, when I stepped through these doors as a medical student.”

Raised in Oak Cliff near UT Southwestern, Griffin was inspired by his father, an educator and pastor, and his mother, who studied with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. These influences instilled a deep commitment to service and teaching in him. He values the dynamic and intense learning experiences from his medical school days, which included following emergency room patients to the operating room.

Now, as a mentor, Dr. Griffin emphasizes compassion and professionalism, impacting many students and colleagues. In his new role at Parkland, he continues to advocate for equitable health care access and believes in the power of community resources to improve public health outcomes. His leadership is guided by a commitment to education, discovery, and patient care.

“We can change this little part of our earth, like Archimedes, who said, ‘Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world,’” Dr. Griffin said. “I’m standing on a different side of the street, but can I make a difference? Am I leveraging my knowledge? Am I leveraging my humanity? Am I leveraging my gifts to help someone else?”


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