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Martin Walter Donner

Martin Walter Donner


Donner, a head of radiology at Johns Hopkins who established the hospital’s program for swallowing disorders, was born in Leipzig, Germany. Donner earned his M.D. at the University of Leipzig in 1945 and served internships and residencies in internal medicine and radiology in Germany and in St. Petersburg, Florida.

In 1957, Donner accepted a fellowship in radiology at Johns Hopkins. In 1958, he joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and in 1966, was appointed to the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. In 1972, Donner was appointed chief radiologist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Donner’s radiological and imaging work focused on the function and diseases of the gastrointestinal system. His research, combined with his clinical and administrative skills, contributed to his leadership of the department’s transitions through three successive waves of technological advances in the imaging field—the adoptions of ultrasound, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging. He led efforts to form a multidisciplinary, mutually cooperative research and clinical facility at Johns Hopkins to study and treat swallowing disorders, the first of its kind in the nation. The Johns Hopkins Swallowing Center opened in 1981.

A past president of the Society of Gastrointestinal Radiologists, Donner was honored with that society’s Canon Medal in 1983. In 1986, he became the editor of Dysphagia, a journal that focuses on a multidisciplinary approach to swallowing disorders. He retired as chairman and director of the Department of Radiology in 1987 to devote his full attention to the swallowing center he had established. In 1991, The Martin Donner Chair of the Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science was named in his honor.

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