Who Was Robert Wood Johnson? And Other Famous Names in Medicine

Ariel Harsinay


September 13, 2018

In This Article

Robert Wood Johnson II

Robert Wood Johnson II and one of the organizations that bears his name: the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey

Today you can find Robert Wood Johnson II's name on a hospital; a medical school; and the nation's largest public health philanthropy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with an endowment exceeding $11 billion.

Nicknamed "General" for his service as brigadier general during World War II, Johnson was primarily a businessman. At the age of 17, he joined the family business, Johnson & Johnson, which was founded by his father, Robert Wood Johnson, and his two brothers. The company initially made mustard plasters, wound dressings, and first aid kits.

In 1932, Johnson became president of the company, leading its diversification into other health-related areas, including pharmaceuticals and research. He was known for being generous and socially conscious, advocating for higher wages for workers during the Depression, helping small businesses thrive, and emphasizing corporate responsibility.[1] At his death in 1968, Johnson left most of his estate to the foundation that bears his name, which has continued his legacy of support for healthcare professionals and the health of the public.[1,2]


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