Skip to Main Content

Kathleen Bell, M.D.

  • Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Former Chair
  • Member of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute
“Pay attention to your own physical, mental, and spiritual fitness.”

Contributions to STEMM

Dr. Bell is “a clinical researcher in the areas of traumatic brain injury and stroke and the immediate past Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation,” a department she remains an integral part of today. She also serves as a “clinician who regularly sees patients in clinic and in the hospital to work on successful rehabilitation in the areas of traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain tumors, and long COVID.”

Outside of UT Southwestern, Dr. Bell said she stays “very involved in national activities in my specialty – a few years ago I was the President of our primary specialty association and I currently lead our specialty leadership training course.”

Early Influences

Finding her inspiration to pursue medicine from an unlikely source, Dr. Bell said she “was inspired by television shows–I didn’t know any physicians or other health care providers when I was a girl. But hey, it worked!”

Advice to the Next Generation

She encourages young women to explore all the opportunities available to them. In her early years, Dr. Bell “found a high school to go to that would give me a scholarship and push me hard,” she said.

“I tried very hard to find experiences outside of my usual world. I applied for all types of activities and programs including art, music, community leadership, and computer model building – this completely expanded my world.”

Now, as an established woman in medicine, Dr. Bell seeks out opportunities to “help young women plot their courses for success.” She sees the Celebrating Breakthroughs Together project as a motivational undertaking. “Women hold up half the world and acknowledging their different and special contribution to science and medicine is so heartening. I hope young women are truly inspired to move out of their comfort zones and into the excitement and growth that are available to us.”

Overcoming Challenges

“No one in my family had anything to do with science or medicine – in fact, neither of my parents had graduated from high school. While they were supportive, I was pretty much on my own for planning and finances,” she said of her formative years. Going forward “even during my career, there were not many role models or instruction on how to be successful in academic medicine.” This had a tremendous impact on Dr. Bell; at one point she “even left academic medicine for five years thinking I could not be successful,” she said.

“But I received a second chance and knew exactly what I had to do. Now I really try to help young women plot their courses for success knowing what I learned.”

View Academic Profile