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Robert Wilkinson Johnson, Jr.

Robert Wilkinson Johnson Jr.


Johnson, a chief orthopaedic surgeon at Johns Hopkins, was born in Baltimore. He received his A.B. from Princeton University in 1912 and his medical degree from Johns Hopkins in 1917, when he also completed his surgical internship. In 1917, Johnson was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Army Medical Reserve Corps and sent to England, where he served on a British Army medical staff at military hospitals in London and Oxford. He developed an interest in the disabled and established a curative workshop in orthopaedics. He was discharged in 1919 as a captain.

A month following his discharge, Johnson became associated with William Baer, Frederick Baetjer, and George Bennett at their offices on East Madison Street in Baltimore. For fifty-nine years he was in private practice at that location.

In 1919, Johnson was also appointed an instructor in orthopaedic surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 1929, he took a two-year leave of absence to join the University of Maryland as professor of orthopaedics and head of the orthopaedic service at University Hospital. He also served as medical director of the James Lawrence Kernan Hospital for Crippled Children. In 1947, Johnson was appointed professor of orthopaedic surgery and orthopaedic surgeon-in-charge at Johns Hopkins, positions he held until 1954.

Johnson established a clinic for disabled children at the Emergency Hospital in Easton, Maryland, in 1920 and oversaw its operations for forty years. The clinic’s functions later became absorbed by the Easton Memorial Hospital. He also held clinics for the State Health Department’s Service for Crippled Children.

Johnson served as president of the American Orthopaedic Association from 1949 to 1950. He wrote thirty-five articles published in professional journals, most of which were based on his research at the Hunterian Laboratory at Johns Hopkins and the Bowles Memorial Laboratory at the Children’s Hospital. In 1946, he was a co-winner of the gold medal for the best scientific exhibit at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons meeting. In 1958, he was elected an honorary fellow of the British Orthopaedic Association. In 1961, Maryland Governor J. Millard Tawes presented him with the Physician’s Award for his work with the physically handicapped.

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