Dr. Warren D. Johnson '58
1991 Distinguished Alumnus Award for Professional Achievement
The discovery of the AIDS virus in the early 1980s sent a frightening chill through the medical community and the world at large. But one Carroll alumnus was already seeking a cure for the disease even before most of the world recognized its seriousness. Dr. Warren D. Johnson '58, professor of medicine and public health and chief of the division of international medicine at Cornell University Medical College, has been known as a leader in the field for his work with patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome and has been regarded as one of the top three doctors in the United States in the field of international medicine.
Johnson graduated from Carroll in 1958 magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and biology. He was active in Beta Beta Beta, and the American Chemistry Society; and also served as president of his junior class, vice president of his senior class, and was active in student senate, band and choir. Following medical school at Columbia University, Johnson secured a fellowship in infectious diseases at Cornell University. He was later appointed an assistant professor of medicine at Cornell in 1969 and an associate professor in 1974.
He eventually became involved in research activities in Brazil and Haiti concerning infantile diarrhea and infectious diseases which brought him in contact with AIDS patients. In 1980, while in Haiti, he began seeing several adult patients suffering some diarrhea. Previously healthy, all of the patients died. Even before the first reports of AIDS appeared in journals, Johnson and his team were attempting to treat the illness. He worked to obtain funding for three years from the National Institute of Health to study 150 adult AIDS patients and 300 matched controls. He has since been honored several times for his expertise.
In 1990, he was elected to the Benjamin H. Kean Professorship in Tropical Medicine at Cornell and during the same year, the Board of Internal Medicine in Portland, Ore., elected him to the Subspecialty Board on Infectious Disease.
Johnson continues his research and training in infectious diseases, particularly in resource-poor countries. In 2011, he was inducted into the Phi Kappa Pi honor society at Carroll for his ongoing professional accomplishments. Warren and his wife Barbara live in New Jersey.