In Memoriam: Dr. Richard T. Johnson

In Memoriam: Dr. Richard T. Johnson, “Father” of Neurovirology

It is with great sadness that the International Society for NeuroVirology (ISNV) marks the passing of Dr. Richard “Dick” Johnson. Dr. Johnson died at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 22nd at the age of 84.


Dr. Johnson had a distinguished career spanning over fifty years. After completing his bachelor’s degree with honors at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1953 and his medical degree in 1956 at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Dr. Johnson held positions at various prestigious institutions, including the Stanford University Hospitals, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Case Western University School of Medicine. In 1969, he joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Medicine, serving for 10 years starting in 1998 as director of the Department of Neurology. Dr. Johnson also held a joint appointment in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health. He was an accomplished researcher and skilled clinician with an extensive record of publication, mentoring, and collaboration. Many of the members of the ISNV are where they are today because of the mentorship and influence of Dr. Johnson.


Dr. Johnson was many things to the Society. As has been noted by his colleagues, he is recognized as the “father” of neurovirology and, by extension, the forerunner of the ISNV. He was also an ardent supporter of the field of neurovirology and the ISNV. Dr. Johnson was a founding member of the ISNV, and continued as an active member until his death. He was a regular speaker and participant in the International Symposia on NeuroVirology since the beginning of the series in 1997. He also holds a special place in the history of the ISNV. As the de facto inventor of neurovirology, Dr. Johnson was the natural choice to be honored with the first Pioneer in NeuroVirology Award, which was presented at the 2nd International Symposium on NeuroVirology in New London, New Hampshire, in 1999.

Dr. Johnson’s influence as a colleague, friend, mentor, and pioneer in the field of neurovirology is his lasting legacy.