I am deeply saddened to learn that Michael V Johnston MD. Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics and Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and former Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, passed away on July 30, 2022. Dr Johnston (Mike) was a very active and cherished member of the ICNA and served on the executive board for two terms. He was a brilliant academician and researcher and his seminal work on the role of glutamate and excitotoxicity in hypoxic ischaemic injury and its effects on the developing brain is well known internationally. A great mentor, he was very supportive and patient, and was admired by all his mentees. He collaborated with clinicians and researchers and continued to treat patients with complex neurological disorders.
Along with his friend and colleague, Dr Gary Goldstein, he spearheaded the Kennedy Krieger Institute for 31 years, into an Institution known for cutting edge research and for providing state-of-the-art management to children with neuro-developmental disorders. He published hundreds of research papers and gave numerous invited lectures across the world. He received several awards and honours including the Frank Ford Lecture award of the ICNA (2016), the Blum/ Moser Endowed Chair for Paediatric Neurology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Bernard Sachs Award from the Child Neurology Society.
I had the privilege of being one of the many people whose lives he touched. I was closely associated with him since 1991 when I worked with him at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Subsequently he visited our Institution -The Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research Chandigarh, India, as a visiting Professor and an invited speaker periodically. He had qualities of the head and heart both! Despite his several professional accomplishments, he was such a humble, caring, and friendly person and a truly devoted family man. Both, he, and his wife Sally, loved music, hosted many friends, and went out of their way to help people. He is survived by his loving wife Sally, three sons and their wives, and eight lovely grandchildren. Mike will be missed not only by the ICNA community, but by Paediatric Neurologists all over the world.
Pratibha SinghiSecretary and President ElectICNA
Michael V. Johnston, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics and Neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and former Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, passed away peacefully at home in Baltimore on July 30, 2022. The cause was pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Johnston (“Mike”) was born January 30, 1946 in Pittsburgh, and raised in Christiana, a small town outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His father, Eugene, was a physician and his mother, Naomi, was a nurse. Together Mike’s parents ran a general practice out of their home. From a young age, Mike wanted to be a doctor and would accompany his father on house calls to patients living on the farms that surround Christiana. Many of his father’s patients were Amish, and Mike helped build a hitching post in front of the home office to allow them to secure their horses and buggies during visits.
After graduating as Valedictorian from Octorara High School in 1963, Mike went on to Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. It was there that he met the love of his life and future wife, Susan (“Sally”) Johnston, who had traveled to Franklin and Marshall from Chatham College in Pittsburgh as part of a visiting choir to sing the opera, Dido and Aeneas. Mike and Sally liked to say that their love of music brought them together, and Mike was a lifelong lover of opera music. Mike and Sally were married in 1968 in Pittsburgh where Mike was attending medical school at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Johnston graduated from medical school in 1971, first in his class, and he and Sally then moved to Baltimore for his internship and residency in Pediatrics at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. After completing his pediatrics residency, Dr. Johnston was drafted into the U.S. Army and served two years working for the U.S. Army Office of the Surgeon General in Washington, D.C. He then returned to Johns Hopkins in 1976 for residency in Neurology. Dr. Johnston was drawn to pediatric neurology because he was fascinated by the brain and saw enormous potential in the field for new discoveries. It was during this time that he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph T. Coyle, where their work resulted in the discovery of the role of the nucleus basalis in the developing brain. In 1980 Dr. Johnston started his first faculty position at the University of Michigan Medical School. During his time in Ann Arbor, Dr. Johnston conducted pivotal research into the role of glutamate in hypoxic ischemic brain injury and its effects on the developing brain. He was rapidly promoted, becoming a full Professor of Pediatrics & Neurology at the University of Michigan in 1987.
In 1988 Dr. Johnston returned to Baltimore to help lead the Kennedy Krieger Institute with his long-time friend and colleague, Dr. Gary Goldstein. This was his dream job. Kennedy Krieger allowed Dr. Johnston the opportunity to continue his research and collaborate with brilliant clinicians and researchers, while also continuing to treat patients. His patients often had rare and complex neurological disorders, but Dr. Johnston saw potential. With his knowledge and compassion, he endeavored to bring hope to these children and their families. Over 31 years at Kennedy Krieger Dr. Johnston helped grow the institution into a world leader in research and clinical care of children with neurologic and developmental disorders. Over his career Dr. Johnston published hundreds of peer-reviewed articles, chapters, and textbooks, and lectured around the world. He also mentored countless numbers of young researchers and clinicians and was generous with his time. In recognition of his achievements, he served on the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) and served as the President of ABPN in 2007. He in addition received numerous honors and awards including the Bernard Sachs Award from the Child Neurology Society (2008), the Blum/Moser Endowed Chair for Pediatric Neurology at Kennedy Krieger Institute (2009), and the Frank Ford Lecture Award from the International Child Neurology Association (ICNA) (2015).
Aside from his professional career, Dr. Johnston was devoted to his family. He cherished every moment he was able to spend with his family on vacation in Rangeley, Maine, where he had vacationed with his family as a boy. Sally was a native of Yarmouth, Maine and from the time their three boys were little, Sally and Mike spent nearly every summer vacation in Maine, along with extended family. Dr. Johnston is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Sally Johnston, his three sons, Peter, Jamie, and Joe, his daughters-in-law Cecilia, Kristin, and Jennie, and—the light of his life—his eight grandchildren, Elizabeth, Michael, Andrew, Ryan, Caroline, Eli, Scarlett, and Liam. His two siblings, David Johnston, M.D. and Marcia Johnson, predeceased him.
A Memorial Service for Dr. Johnston will be held on Saturday, August 20 at 11 a.m. at the Second Presbyterian Church, 4200 St Paul St, Baltimore, MD 21218. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his name to Kennedy Krieger Institute at www.KennedyKrieger.org/Tributes or direct your gift to the Office of Philanthropy, Kennedy Krieger Foundation, 707 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205.