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Dr. Darren L. Johnson - Football - University of Kentucky Athletics

Dr. Darren L.Johnson

  • title UK Healthcare Team Physician
  • Hometown

Dr. Johnson is a nationally recognized physician in the field of sports medicine, particularly in complex knee surgery. Currently he serves as the Professor and Chief of Sports Medicine at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at the University of Kentucky.  He serves as head team orthopedic surgeon to the UK Wildcats as well as a busy clinical practice in treating patients throughout the commonwealth and surrounding states. He has a particular interest in the prevention, treatment of ACL injuries in the athletically active. Currently, a co-investigator on 4 funded NIH grants totaling over 10 million dollars on “ACL” related issues.  His true passion is innovation and surgeon education of his profession.  He travels to multiple national meetings around the country and internationally as an invited guest speaker expert on complex topics as it relates to knee injuries.  He was born and raised in southern California: received his BS degree from the UCR-UCLA program in Biomedical Sciences and MD degree at UCLA. He completed his orthopedic residency at the USC followed by a fellowship in sports medicine and shoulder surgery at the University of Pittsburgh under Freddie H Fu MD. He joined the UK faculty in 1993.  One of four national applicants selected in 1995 by the AOA as a John Fahey North American traveling Fellow. Selected as one of three sports medicine orthopedic surgeons by the AOSSM to travel to Europe in 1997 for an exchange fellowship, a highlight of his career. AOSSM Godfather for the traveling fellowship to APKASS in 2023.   John C Kennedy MD AOSSM Memorial Lectureship in 2023.  He has served on the Board of Directors of the AAOS, AOSSM, and Southern Orthopedic Association (past president and current chair of Education). The first president of the SOA from the state of Kentucky.  He Has served on numerous committee appointments of the AAOS, AOSSM and AANA. Was rW   He was Selected as SEC Team physician of the year in 2013 by the 14-member institutions. In 2013 he was recognized as one of the top 19 US sports medicine specialists by Orthopedics this week. In 2016 he was recognized as one the of the top 16 North American sports medicine knee surgeons by Orthopedics this week. From 2000 to 2018, he served as the Chief/Chair of UK orthopedic surgery:  successfully transitioning from division to department and quadrupling the size of the department (clinical volume/faculty). US News ranking number 45 for the department in 2018, highest ever ranking.  The Resident fellow compliment doubled in size under his leadership.  He has published over 125 peer reviewed manuscripts as well as over 30 book chapters, and edited 2 textbooks entitled “Clinical Sports Medicine” and “Reconstructive knee Surgery”. He is annually selected as one of the “Best Doctors in America” by Castle Connelly as well as “Top Doctors” in America. He resides in Lexington, Kentucky, Thoroughbred race horse capitol of the world and home to the National Champion UK Wildcats with his family, wife Nancy, son Brandon 31(Chicago) and daughters Kelsey 29 and Lauren (Mobile ) 27. His outside interests including all outdoor activities, particularly spending time with family and two grandchildren: Jack and Emma, fly fishing, traveling, skiing, and golf.

Personal Statement
In sports medicine we see a lot of high school and college kids who have an injury, and for the patient, it’s like the end of the world. What’s going through their mind is, “I’ll never be able to get back on the field.” We see them at their lowest point, we operate on them and go through the rehab process. When that player goes back on the field and back to doing what they love to do, you can’t beat it. This is not a job to me. This is my calling.

Faculty Rank
Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

Practice Areas
Sports Medicine

Clinical Interests
Arthroscopy, Knee and shoulder reconstruction, orthopaedic surgery, sports medicine

University of California at Los Angeles, School of Medicine

University of Southern California, School of Medicine, Los Angeles

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Certifications or Special training
American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, Orthopaedic Sports Medicine

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