Dr. Carol J. Johns, 76, Hopkins faculty, researcher, founded sarcoidosis clinic

February 27, 2000|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Dr. Carol J. Johns, an international authority on a lung disease that affects young African-Americans, died Thursday of cancer at her Guilford home. She was 76.

A champion of women's medical education, she was Wellesley College's acting president in 1979-1980 and was a longtime trustee of the Massachusetts institution. She was named "Medical Woman of the Year" by the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1974. She was recently named a master by the American College of Physicians.

"She was an enormously nurturing person," said Dr. Joe G.N. Garcia, director of the Johns Hopkins division of pulmonary and critical care medicine. "She was a true pioneer in women's medical education. Her life was a role model for medical students, house staff and women's faculty."

Born Carol Johnson in Baltimore and raised in Coatesville, Pa., she was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley, where she received her bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1944. She was an honors student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where she earned her medical degree in 1950.

She met her husband, Dr. Richard J. Johns, when they were medical residents on the Osler medical house staff. They wed in 1953. Her husband, who survives her, is founding director of the Hopkins department of biomedical engineering.

Early in her career at Hopkins, she began studying a lung disease known as sarcoidosis, a pulmonary condition that disproportionately affects African-Americans in their 20s and 30s. Sarcoidosis inflames the lungs and makes breathing difficult.

She was the founder of the Hopkins Sarcoid Clinic, which she directed from 1962 to 1979 and from 1981 to 1993. She recently wrote of her 50 years of observations on the disease in an article in the journal Medicine. In October, her colleagues organized a research symposium in her honor.

A member of the Hopkins faculty since the early 1950s, Dr. Johns was assistant dean and director of continuing medical education from 1981 to 1993.

In addition to her work in Baltimore, she had a second career for her alma mater, Wellesley College. Named secretary of the Baltimore Wellesley Club in 1958, she headed the school's national fund raising from 1975 to 1979. When the college's president took a United Nations post in 1979, Dr. Johns stepped in and served as Wellesley's acting president for 18 months. She was a Wellesley trustee from 1971 to 1990.

"She was a good listener, she had a sense of what was truly important to the college and she never told you about her own accomplishments," said David Blinder, a Wellesley vice president.

In her role as advocate for women in medicine, she was director of the Stetler Research Fund for Women Physicians. She founded a Women's Task Force for Faculty Careers in Medicine at Hopkins and served three times as director of the Women's Medical Alumnae Association.

In 1995, she was named the first female president of the American Clinical and Climatological Association.

On Feb. 14, she was named a Hopkins University Distinguished Service Professor by its board of trustees.

Dr. Johns was also involved in local philanthropic work. She was a trustee of St. Paul's School for Girls in Brooklandville, the Calvert School in Tuscany-Canterbury, the Broadmead community in Cockeysville and the Hospital for Consumptives of Maryland, formerly the Eudowood Sanitarium.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where she was a member of the vestry and served as senior warden.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by three sons, James Johns of Nashville, Tenn., Richard Johns of Hanover, N.H., and Robert Johns of Oaksey, Wiltshire, England; a brother, A. Clark Johnson Jr. of Houston; and seven grandchildren.

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