Richard Ross, Cardiologist and Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Passes Away

August 14, 2015

BALTIMORE, MD — Dr Richard Ross, a cardiologist who served as the dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine for 15 years, passed away on August 11, 2015 due to complications from Parkinson's disease[1]. He was 91 years old.

In addition to his many roles at Johns Hopkins, Ross served as a president of the American Heart Association (AHA) from 1973 to 1974.

Born in Richmond, IN, Ross attended Harvard as an undergraduate and entered Harvard Medical School in 1942 as part of the accelerated program in place during World War II. After graduating, Ross completed a medical internship and residency at Johns Hopkins and then joined the Army Medical Corps in 1949, where he was a captain during the Korean War and chief of cardiovascular medicine at the 141st General Hospital.

Dr Richard Ross

Over the years at Johns Hopkins, Ross was named director of the cardiovascular division within the department of medicine and became a full professor in 1965. He was named the dean of the medical school in 1975 and stayed in that role until 1990.

As dean, Ross oversaw an expansion of the faculty and an increase in research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). During his tenure, funding from the NIH to Johns Hopkins grew from $20 million to more than $100 million annually. He helped establish 29 endowed professorships for faculty and secured funding to support the salaries of young Johns Hopkins physicians just starting their careers.

In 2009, he said the number-one priority for a dean "is to recruit people and make sure that the people heading the department are of the proper mold."

In terms of his own research at the Johns Hopkins Wellcome Laboratory, Ross helped develop coronary cineangiography along with Dr Russell Morgan and collaborated with other cardiologists to produce coronary arteriograms. He is also known as being part of a trio of physicians asked by US District Judge John Sirica to examine former president Richard Nixon. Their goal was to determine whether Nixon was healthy enough to testify during the Watergate investigations. Ross and the two other doctors traveled to Nixon's home in San Clemente, CA, ultimately concluding he was too ill to travel.

In addition to authoring more than 150 research papers on cardiovascular physiology and disease, Ross was named to the Institute of Medicine's National Academy of Sciences in 1975. In 1976, he received the AHA's Gold Heart Award and the James Herrick Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cardiology in 1982. In 2005, Johns Hopkins awarded him the University President's medal.

Ross is the son of Louis Ross, a general physician, and Margaret Starr, a graduate of Vassar College. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth McCracken Ross, his partner for 65 years, and their three children.


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