Richard T. Johnson, MD

Richard T. Johnson, MD
Member Since 1968
Date of Death: November 22, 2015

Richard T. Johnson, M.D., died at age 84 in Johns Hopkins Hospital, after an episode of pneumonia. Dick was born in Colorado and attended Colorado schools through Medical School. After an internship in medicine at Stanford, he spent two years at the Walter Reed Army Research Institute. It was there that he was first exposed to the area that became his life’s work, infectious diseases of the nervous system, particularly viral infections.

He took his neurology training at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and also spent time in England and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Melbourne Australia. His first neurology appointment was with Maurice Victor, in Cleveland. In 1969 he joined me as we started the first Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins. When I stepped down as Director of the department in 1988, Dick became the second Director from 1988 to 1997. Following his stint as Director he became Editor of the Annals of Neurology, and also the founding Director of the National Neuroscience Institute in Singapore.

Dick practically invented the field of “Neurovirology”. His lab was a mecca for students and post-docs from around the world. He published at least 300 articles and was the editor of 10 books. His most significant contribution was his single-authored “Viral Infections of the Nervous System” which had two editions, with Dick working on a third at the time of his death.

Dick was an excellent teacher and lecturer. He gave named lectures at practically every major medical school in the US, Europe, and South America; (he was fluent in Spanish). He was a great raconteur, particularly after an interesting trip. He collected innumerable awards throughout his career. He was a member of the Institute of Medicine since 1987. (I think he was the 3rd or 4th Neurologist elected) and was a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London. He was President of the ANA in 1987.

Dick did all this in a quiet, unhurried way. His many mentees (residents, lab fellows, and other students), not to mention his faculty colleagues, are honored to have been associated with him.

Prepared by Guy McKhann, M.D.
Guy M. McKhann, MD
Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience
The Johns Hopkins University
338 Krieger Hall
3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218-2685

Used with permission of the author.

Back to In Memoriam