Dr. John G. Griffith, an obstetrician-gynecologist who was an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the hospital's Fibroid Center, died Saturday in Dewey Beach, Del., after being hit by a car. The Timonium resident was 44.
Dr. Griffith, who had been vacationing in Rehoboth Beach, Del., with his family, was on the shoulder of the Coastal Highway repairing his broken bicycle chain when he was hit. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The case remains under investigation, and charges against the driver are pending.
"He was a wonderful human being who worked in a very important area of women's health, and his death is so senseless. So much talent and training to help others is now lost," said Dr. Edward D. Miller, dean of the medical school and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. "This is a tragedy for everyone," he said yesterday.
Dr. Harold Fox, director of gynecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins, recruited Dr. Griffith in 2004.
"John was regionally and nationally known and was destined to become a major leader in his field. He was a shooting star on a great trajectory," Dr. Fox said. "He was gentle, kind, compassionate and impeccably honest. He was every good word you could think of. We're all in shock. His loss is being felt so profoundly by all who knew him."
"He was with us for three years, and he was just an amazing physician and surgeon. I never saw him angry, and I never heard anyone say anything bad about him," said Dr. Jean R. Anderson, a professor of gynecology and obstetrics, and director of the division of gynecologic specialties at Hopkins. "His priorities were very clear. Our family came after his own, and we were very proud to be a part of it."
Dr. Griffith was born in Rochester, N.Y., the son of Dr. Lawrence S.C. Griffith and Anne Y. Griffith. His father is a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Hopkins.
He grew up in Timonium and Roland Park, and graduated in 1981 from Friends School. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1985 from Haverford College and his master's in public health from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Public Health in 1987.
After graduating from Case Western University School of Medicine in 1994, he completed his internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals of Cleveland.
He was chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Geaugh Regional Hospital in Chardon, Ohio, and then was a member of a group practice at University Primary Care Physicians in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, before coming to Hopkins.
In 2005, he was named director of the Fibroid Center, a new clinical and research center at Hopkins. He led a team of a dozen faculty members and 40 staff members that included interventional radiologists, reproductive endocrinologists, geneticists, nurses and public health experts.
Dr. Griffith was an authority in the development and use of minimally invasive surgical techniques to treat uterine and cervical disorders, Dr. Fox said.
"He developed not only the Fibroid Center but also a superb endoscopic surgery training program of obstetrical and gynecologic surgeons," he said. "John improved the lives of countless women."
Colleagues said Dr. Griffith was dedicated to linking clinical practice to research as the best way to find and rapidly apply new medical or surgical approaches to the treatment of fibroids, which are mostly benign growths in the lining of the womb that can cause severe pain, bleeding and disability.
Dr. Griffith's research focused on why some women were more prone than others to develop fibroids. He also conducted research into the management of abnormal Pap smears, ovarian cysts and abnormal menstrual periods.
"He was a great educator and gave his residents a quality education. He kept his pager on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so they could locate him and use him as a resource. And he never failed to respond," Dr. Fox said. "John was just a unique and committed individual."
In 2005 and again this year, residents nominated Dr. Griffith for the Award for Excellence in Teaching and Mentorship. The awards were presented by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Dr. Griffith, who had been captain of the lacrosse team during his college days at Haverford, was a local lacrosse referee. He also enjoyed fishing, skiing and riding his bicycle, and cooking for family and friends.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Grace United Methodist Church, 5407 N. Charles St.
In addition to his parents, who live in Roland Park, Dr. Griffith is survived by his wife of 20 years, Elizabeth Magdalen Wilson; a son, Henry Lawrence Griffith; two daughters, Anna Gwendolyn Griffith and Isabel Wilson-Griffith; two brothers, L.S. Cameron Griffith Jr. of Washington, and Gordon A. Griffith of Palo Alto, Calif.; and a sister, Melinda G. George of Arlington, Va.