Obituary: Alan W. Partin, M.D., Ph.D., Med '89

Published in Alumni News - Alumni News 2023

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Alan Partin, who served as the Jakurski Family Director of the Brady Urological Institute, urologist-in-chief for The Johns Hopkins Hospital and director of the Department of Urology from 2004–2022. He died March 28 at age 62.

A noted physician-scientist and prostate surgeon, Dr. Partin developed a method to predict the prognosis of prostate cancer. He pursued science with creative vigor, cared for thousands of patients with kind expertise and led the urology department through strategic growth, broadening its sphere of influence while maintaining the depth of scientific understanding that still today informs patient care.

Under Dr. Partin’s leadership, the Brady Urological Institute doubled its research space and enjoyed significant expansion with projects such as the world-renowned Greenberg Bladder Cancer Institute and new clinical space at Green Spring Station Pavilion III.

He is known for developing the Partin Tables, which are used for predicting the prognosis for prostate cancer, and for his work developing several innovative tests to identify and track prostate cancer, including the Prostate Health Index.

Throughout his 40-year career as a researcher, a clinician and a leader, Dr. Partin was consistently at the heart of discovery and innovation in the field of urology, always keeping a singular focus on improving outcomes for our patients. He embodied the best of Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Partin graduated summa cum laude from the University of Mississippi. He earned his doctorate in pharmacology and molecular sciences in 1988 and his doctor of medicine degree in 1989 at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. After completing his residency at Johns Hopkins, he joined The Brady Urological Institute as an associate professor in 1995.

In December 2022, the Alan W. Partin, M.D., Ph.D., Professorship in Urology was established with a $2.5 million endowment to support a faculty member’s research to develop diagnostic tools, treatments and cures for prostate cancer.

Dr. Partin’s research earned him the British Association of Urological Surgeons’ distinguished St. Paul’s Medal and the American Urological Association’s Gold Cystoscope Award and Distinguished Service Award.

In 1993, as a graduate student, Dr. Partin developed the original tables based on accumulated data on the thousands of “nerve-sparing” radical prostatectomy operations carried out by renowned Johns Hopkins prostate surgeon Patrick C. Walsh. Since then, the presurgical calculating device has been upgraded to better predict the pathologic stage (the cancer stage as determined by a pathologist after surgery) from clinical (presurgery) variables. The accurate prediction of a pathologic stage can help physicians and patients choose the most appropriate treatments.

Dr. Partin’s laboratories investigated many serum tests, some of which can diagnose prostate cancer, as well as new urine and tissue proteins that may help in further detection and staging of prostate cancer.

Dr. Partin was a member of the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, the American Urological Association, the Society for Basic Urologic Research, the Society of Endourology, the Society of Urologic Oncology, the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons, the Clinical Society of Genitourinary Surgeons and several other professional organizations.

He served on the advisory council of the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, the InfoNet editorial board and the prostate cancer advisory board of the American Cancer Society. He also served as the panel chairman of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the research council of the American Urological Association, in addition to other positions.

Dr. Partin contributed to more than 600 scientific articles, publications and presentations. His research earned him the Ambrose Monell Research Award, the David Koch Prostate Cancer Research Award, the Merck Young Investigator Award and other accolades.

He is survived by his loving wife, Vicky, and their children: Topper and his wife, Jen; Dane and his wife, Elisa; David and his wife, Sara; and Michael and his wife, Abby; and grandchildren Andrew, Ella, Julia, Cora and Samuel. He is also survived by his brother Mark and sister-in-law, Renita.