Research Horizons


Jessica Kahn to Direct Adolescent and Transition Medicine

Jessica Kahn, MD, MPH, has been named Director of Adolescent and Transition Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s.

Kahn has cared for many patients during their adolescent development and has devoted years of research into demonstrating the success of the HPV vaccine at preventing cervical cancer.

Her research career was boosted by a Schmidlapp Scholar Award For Research, received in 2007. Her roles at Cincinnati Children’s later grew to include serving as Associate Chair, Academic Affairs and Career Development.

As a new division director, Kahn says her vision is to transform adolescent health outcomes and improve health equity—in the community and globally.

“Caring for adolescents is both fascinating and challenging because adolescence is a period of enormous physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and social-developmental change,” Kahn says. “It’s a joy and a privilege to care for them during this critical life stage and help them learn to take ownership of their health as they transition to adulthood.”

Adolescents worldwide face serious threats to their health and well-being, she says, including HIV risks,  mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders, chronic illnesses, injury and violence. Disparities in health outcomes for all of these conditions exist by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or socioeconomic status.

Three areas in which Kahn plans to enhance services are substance abuse treatment, LGBTQ health and young men’s health.

Driving adolescent health science forward

Researchers here are focused on several key areas for improving adolescent health outcomes:

  • Biomedical strategies to prevent HIV infection
  • Human papillomavirus vaccines to prevent cancers in men and women
  • Novel diagnostic tests for sexually transmitted infections
  • Improving transgender health outcomes, and
  • Timing of puberty and the influence by the physical, chemical and social environment.

Kahn plans to expand research in the areas of substance abuse, eating disorders and LGBTQ health.

“We have an opportunity to unleash the potential of an incredibly talented, diverse and multidisciplinary team of professionals who share a powerful commitment to transforming adolescent health outcomes and improving health equity,” she says. “I’m deeply grateful for this opportunity.”

Kahn received an undergraduate degree in architecture from Princeton University in 1986, then went on to earn her MD from Harvard Medical School in 1992 and an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1999.

She has published more than 140 scientific articles. Her many awards include the Huffman-Capraro Young Investigator Award from the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology and the New Investigator Award from the Society for Adolescent Medicine.