Posted on: February 17, 2020
Ann J. Johanson, MD, age 85, passed away in her winter home in Sanibel, Florida on January 30, 2020. Ann was born July 19, 1934 in St. Louis, Missouri to Eugene and Virginia Johanson and was the sister to the late James E. Johanson MD. She was a fifth generation physician dating back to her Norwegian forebearers.
Ann graduated from Webster Groves High School where subsequently she was inducted into the athletic Hall of Fame, as well as recipient of the school’s Life Time Achievement award. She earned letters in multiple sports including basketball, softball, volleyball and field hockey.
Ann received a B.A. degree with honors from Washington University-St. Louis and in her senior year earned the Phoenix Award for the most outstanding female athlete. She attended medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia, was president of her senior class, and graduated at the top of the class of 1962. She did her internship at the University of Minnesota, residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and a fellowship in endocrinology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. She was recruited to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and rose to the rank of full professor over a 15-year career there. She was the founding director of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and gained an international reputation in the field of growth disorders, specifically short stature syndromes.
Ann and her partner, Dr. Robert M. Blizzard described, and therefore had named after them, the endocrine disorder Johanson-Blizzard Syndrome. She was a pioneer in the clinical use of human growth hormone. Ann eventually left academic medicine to head the human growth hormone division at Genentech Corporation in San Francisco. Many thousands of children have benefited immeasurably from her work there. In retirement Ann traveled extensively and enjoyed summers at her cabin in Three Lakes, WI with her Labrador Nisse, her trusty companion.
Ann was generous in providing scholarship support to students interested in medicine and biological sciences, as well as the Missouri Botanical Gardens, St. Louis Symphony, and a variety of activities associated with Webster Groves Presbyterian Church. She is remembered by a multitude of friends, colleagues, and most of all patients as an exceptionally compassionate, dedicated physician with uncommon humility. She is survived by nephews Erik, Stephen and Peter, niece Kristen and their spouses and children, her sister in-law Kathren, as well as her close cousins Dr. Stephen Achuff, his spouse Cary and children, Elise, Jeannie, and Charlie and the Witherspoon family.
Donations in her memory can be made to: Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis Symphony or Webster Groves Presbyterian Church.