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History of the Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins

The Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins was founded in 1969. In this remarkably short period of time, the Department has become one of the most influential in the world, and has trained a remarkable group of leaders of other departments. Much of the success is due to the energy and vision of Guy McKhann (the 1969-89 Era) and his initial recruits, but the soil was prepared by a series of individuals and their often conflicting visions, dating back to the founding of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1889 (the First 80 Years).

The Hopkins environment provided fertile ground for the growth of the Neurology Department since Neurosurgery had developed here as a specialty under Harvey Cushing and Walter Dandy. Hopkins was the birthplace of Pediatric Neurology under Frank Ford, as well as Neuro-ophthalmology under his colleague and friend, Frank Walsh. The School of Hygiene and Public Health was home to chronic disease and stroke epidemiology under Abraham Lillienfeld, and the basic science departments of the School of Medicine were headed by world renowned neuroscientists Vernon Mountcastle in Physiology and David Bodian in Anatomy. The Department of Neurology thrived.

In the summer of 1969, six new faculty members joined the three original members of the small division of Neurology and established distinct adult and pediatric neurology inpatient units. Three new research laboratories also were initiated: Neurochemistry under Guy McKhann, the Kennedy Professor and first Director of the Department of Neurology; Neurovirology and Immunology, under Richard Johnson, the Eisenhower Research Professor of Neurology; and Neuromuscular Disease under Daniel Drachman. Over two decades, the size and breadth of the inpatient, outpatient, and consultation services increased rapidly and other subspecialty groups developed with accompanying investigative work. (Major Research Accomplishments) Additional research and training programs were developed in Stroke, Neuro-oncology, Neuropathology, Neuro-ophthalmology, Epilepsy, Cognitive Neuroscience, Genetics, and Neuro-intensive Care.

With departmental growth, the inpatient units, outpatient clinics, offices, and laboratories became scattered throughout the Johns Hopkins medical campus. In 1982, the Adolph Meyer Building was opened and all the components of the department were consolidated and dedicated neurological intensive care and epilepsy monitoring units were established.

The evolution of the department continues. Additional research laboratories have recently been acquired to meet the needs of expanding investigative work. From the original nine members of the faculty in 1969, the department has now grown to over 70 neurological clinician-investigators on the full time faculty.

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