February 24, 2000
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Carol Johnson Johns, M.D., a world-renowned expert in lung disease, longtime leader at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and an advocate for women's careers in medicine, died at home Thursday of melanoma. She was 76.
The Baltimore resident was considered an international authority on tuberculosis and a similar condition, sarcoidosis, a disease of unknown cause in which inflammation occurs in the lymph nodes, lungs and other tissues throughout the body. Johns founded Hopkins' Sarcoid Clinic, which she directed from 1962 to 1979 and again from 1981 to 1993. She summarized her clinical experience in sarcoid last year in a widely acclaimed article published in the journal Medicine, "The Clinical Management of Sarcoidosis: A 50-year Experience at the Johns Hopkins Hospital." She was president of the International Sarcoid Conference in 1984 and has been a member and honorary member of its International Committee since then. Her colleagues in the pulmonary division of Hopkins' Department of Medicine organized a research symposium in her honor in October 1999.
A member of the Hopkins faculty for nearly 50 years, Johns served as assistant dean and director of continuing medical education from 1981 to 1993. A University Distinguished Professor of Medicine, she also served on many boards and committees for the School of Medicine and The Johns Hopkins Hospital during the 1970s, including chairing the hospital's Quality Assurance Committee, the Medical Audit Committee and the Medical Record and Review Committee.
Johns fostered the professional development of women in her role as director of the Stetler Research Fund for Women Physicians. The co-chair of a national conference on Women Physicians in Contemporary Society in 1979, Johns founded a Women's Task Force for Faculty
Careers in Medicine at Hopkins. She also was actively involved in the Johns Hopkins Women's Medical Alumnae Association, serving three times as its director, and was elected to the group's Hall of Fame in 1999 for "her administrative achievements, her excellence as a teacher and counselor to medical students and house staff and her clinical studies in sarcoidosis."
"Carol was a staunch leader and representative of the core values of Johns Hopkins throughout her tenure here," said Edward D. Miller, M.D., dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Even at the age where faculty frequently entered semiretirement, Carol was repeatedly sought out as a consultant, speaker and writer of chapters and reviews on sarcoidosis. She continued to see and follow patients, teach, was actively involved in advocacy for junior faculty research and teaching, and continued her work for the development of women's careers in academic medicine."
Johns was to be named a master by the American College of Physicians -- the highest honor bestowed by the group at its annual meeting in March. Two of her colleagues from Hopkins' Department of Medicine arranged for her to be honored at home on Jan. 29. David Hellmann, M.D., the ACP governor for Maryland and vice chair of the department, and Edward Benz, M.D., department chairman, presented Johns with the certificate and the doctoral academic hood.
Johns was born in Baltimore in 1923 and grew up in Coatesville, Pa. A Phi Beta Kappa student at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass., where she received her bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1944, she also was an honors student at the Hopkins School of Medicine, where she earned her medical degree in 1950. Johns met her husband, Richard J. Johns, M.D., when they were residents on the Osler medical house staff at Hopkins. They were married in 1953. Richard Johns is now Distinguished Service Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Hopkins and former chairman of that department.
Universities and professional groups alike looked to Carol Johns for guidance. In 1979, she was named acting president of Wellesley College, for which she served a one-and-a-half-year stint. For many years, she was a trustee for Wellesley. Since 1985, she had been a regent and since 1989 had served as vice chairman of the board of regents for the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. She also chaired the external review panel for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's undergraduate biological sciences education program from 1993 to 1994. Johns was the first female member in the 105-year history of the American Clinical and Climatological Association and became the group's first woman president in 1994.
Johns was a member of numerous other professional organizations at the national and state level and authored more than 60 papers and book chapters about the treatment of patients with sarcoidosis. Among other honors, Johns was named "Medical Woman of the Year" by the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1974.
She also had been highly involved in the Baltimore community since the 1960s. She was among the first women to be elected to the vestry of the Church of the Redeemer and was its first senior warden. She served as a trustee for St. Paul's School for Girls, the Calvert School and Broadmead, Friends' Lifetime Care Community, and she was a member of the board of directors of The Hospital for Consumptives of Maryland (Eudowood), which has supported many programs at Hopkins.
She and her family enjoyed sailing both on the Chesapeake Bay and offshore.
In addition to her husband, Johns is survived by a brother, A. Clark Johnson Jr., of Houston; three sons, James of Nashville, Tenn.; Richard of Hanover, N.H.; and Robert of Oaksey, England; and seven grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at the Church of the Redeemer at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to scholarship funds of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine or Wellesley College, or to the Church of the Redeemer.