Skip to Main Content

Gary Paul Lees

Gary Paul Lees


Lees, a longtime medical illustrator and chair of the Johns Hopkins department of Art as Applied to Medicine, was born in Houston. He received his B.S. in zoology from Tulane University in 1966. While attending the University of Houston for one year majoring in fine and applied arts, Lees applied to the Art as Applied to Medicine program at Johns Hopkins and was accepted in 1967. He instead chose to attend the University of Michigan and study under Gerald Hodge, a 1949 graduate of the Johns Hopkins program, and received his M.S. in Biological and Medical Illustration in 1969.

Lees served as a medical illustrator at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco before accepting a position at Johns Hopkins in 1970. Ranice Crosby, director of the department of Art as Applied to Medicine, recruited him to the faculty to serve as illustrator for the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute and teach in the master’s program in medical and biological illustration. Lees was promoted to assistant professor in 1972 and associate professor in 1980. In 1972, Lees joined Crosby and Leon Schlossberg on the department’s admissions committee. When Crosby stepped down as department chair in 1983, Lees was chosen as her successor, and he held the position until 2017. Lees also served as director of the graduate program in Medical and Biological Illustration from 1983 to 2013, during which time 172 students completed the program. He continues to serve as professor emeritus and archivist of the extensive collection of medical illustrations in the Max Brödel Archives.

In collaboration with Arnall Patz, Lees oversaw the design and construction of several exhibitions in ophthalmology in the early 1970s, including Argon Laser Photocoagulation, Vascular Manifestations of Diabetic Retinopathy, Sickle Cell Anemia and Other Retinal Diseases, and Argon Laser Photocoagulation II. He also illustrated textbooks for Gunter K. Von Noorden, Hermann M. Burian, and Clifford Wheeless and self-instructional programs on Jaundice in the Newborn and Anemia in the Newborn. He also assisted in designing the department’s new physical space in the 1830 East Monument Street Building. Lees planned the centennial celebration of the Johns Hopkins department of Art as Applied to Medicine in 2011.

During Lees’ tenure as chair, he oversaw the department’s transition from entirely hand-drawn illustrations to digitally-produced artwork. He established programs that ensured the department’s technology and curriculum remained in the vanguard of the field while recognizing and protecting the history of the department.

In 1993, Lees was in the inaugural cohort of certified medical illustrators in the Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI). He received the AMI’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 and the Brödel Award for Excellence in Education from the AMI in 2010. In 2019, Lees received the Ranice W. Crosby Distinguished Achievement Award for his scholarly contributions to the field of art as applied to the medical sciences from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The medal’s inscription reads “Transformative Leader and Devoted Educator”. Over the course of his career, Lees has contributed illustrations to more than 100 publications and taught more than 225 graduate students.

"*" indicates required fields

Tell Us More

Can you tell us more about this person? Have you spotted an error? Is there information missing? If you have new information to share, please complete the form below.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.