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Guy Mead McKhann

Guy Mead McKhann

1932- 2023

McKhann, founding chairman of the department of neurology at Johns Hopkins, was born in Boston. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1951 and his medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine in 1955. McKhann completed an internship in medicine at New York Hospital in 1956 and served as assistant resident in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins from 1956 to 1957. From 1957 to 1960, he served in the United States Public Health Service at the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness.

McKhann returned to Boston in 1960 to become assistant resident in neurology and then a resident in pediatric neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1963, McKhann moved to Stanford University School of Medicine to become assistant professor of pediatrics and medicine; he was promoted to associate professor in 1965.

In 1969, McKhann came to Johns Hopkins to become Kennedy Professor of Neurology and neurologist-in-chief, positions he kept until 1988. In 1987, he became founding director of the Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute at The Johns Hopkins University. During the first half of 1991, McKhann also served as acting director of pediatric neurology. In 2000, he left the Mind/Brain Institute to become associate director for clinical research at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The author of over 200 publications, McKhann is co-editor of the neurology textbook, Diseases of the Nervous System: Clinical Neurobiology. He and his colleague (and wife) Marilyn Albert published a book about aging and the brain for the general public, Keep Your Brain Young. In 1984, McKhann made headlines for participation in a national clinical trial showing that plasmapheresis, a process that replaces the plasma of the blood with artificial fluid, sped recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. His most recent research has been in the assessment of cognitive and neurologic outcomes after cardiac surgery.

McKhann has been involved with a number of scientific organizations and served as president of the American Neurological Association. He is scientific advisor to the Charles A. Dana Foundation and has been chairman of the Scientific Advisory Group for United Cerebral Palsy. McKhann has also been involved in research in China related to epidemics of a paralytic disease in children, work which earned him an honorary M.D. from Hebei University. He has also served as an advisor to the Vatican on issues relating to the end of life, particularly brain death.

McKhann in 2011 co-chaired a panel that updated the diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease, which was first created in 1984. In 2016, he received the inaugural Dean’s Distinguished Mentor Award from Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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