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Richard James Johns

Portrait of Richard James Johns
Richard James Johns
Date: 1989
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 46 x 35.5 in.
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Richard James Johns


Johns, the founding chair of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins, was born in Pendleton, Oregon. He received his B.S. from the University of Oregon in 1947 and his M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1948. After serving in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, he returned to Johns Hopkins as an instructor in medicine and stayed for the remainder of his career, moving up the ranks to associate professor.

In 1966, Johns was appointed the first professor and chairman of the new subdepartment of biomedical engineering. In 1970, when biomedical engineering was established as a full department in the university, Johns was named its director and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1991.

Under his leadership the department expanded to encompass research in speech and hearing, cardiovascular control, and myocardial mechanics. He also helped develop a revolutionary three-dimensional radiography system during the 1960s and 1970s. In addition to his success in developing the biomedical engineering department, Johns played a major role in expanding research and training programs for medical students and postdoctoral scientists.

He is a university distinguished service professor emeritus.