Dr. Johnson’s primary clinical interests are in the areas of neurosurgical oncology and in the neurosurgical management of pain. He is one of three neurosurgeons at Brigham and Women’s Hospital whose primary focus is brain tumor management, and he participates actively in the multidisciplinary brain tumor group at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In addition to the surgical resection of brain tumors, Dr. Johnson also performs radiosurgery for these lesions (when appropriate) in collaboration with the radiation oncology group at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is a member of the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, and serves as a co-investigator on a number of clinical trials involving new experimental treatments for brain tumors. Areas of special clinical interest include the management of low and high grade gliomas, meningiomas and schwannomas, and brain metastases.

Dr. Johnson is also Director of the Pain Management Program in Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and is responsible for treating patients with a variety of chronic pain and related disorders. Each pain management strategy is carefully tailored to the needs of the individual patient, and may include neurostimulation, neuroablation, intrathecal drug administration, or treatment with oral pain medications. He works closely with the Multidisciplinary Pain Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to provide patients with the full range of pain treatment options.

In addition to his clinical duties, Dr. Johnson maintains an active basic science research laboratory in the Surgical Neuro-Oncology Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. His research is focused on the molecular basis of brain tumor development and resistance to treatment, as well as on p53-dependent programmed cell death occurring in the nervous system after injury or in neurodegenerative states. The p53 protein is a site specific transactivator or repressor of transcription that promotes injury-induced programmed cell death by modulating the expression of select target genes. Defects in the p53 signaling pathway have been identified in nearly half of all human cancers, including many central nervous system malignancies. In addition, studies have implicated p53 in the pathogenesis of neuronal cell death occurring after DNA damage, ischemia, or in neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. The effects of many of the current clinical therapies for brain tumors (including radiation and some forms of chemotherapy) require activation of p53-dependent pathways. Because the cellular consequences of p53 activation in the nervous system are poorly understood, a comprehensive study of p53-dependent changes in gene and protein expression in neurons, astrocytes and brain tumor cells is needed. Dr. Johnson’s research combines the use of CGH microarray, mRNA microarray and mass spectrometry proteomics with other cell and molecular biology techniques to identify the causes of brain tumor development, and to examine p53-dependent and p53-independent cell death pathways in neurons, glia and primary brain tumor cells.



Original Reports

1. Johnson MD and Burchiel KJ. Peripheral stimulation for treatment of trigeminal postherpetic neuralgia and trigeminal posttraumatic neuropathic pain: a pilot study. Neurosurgery 2004; 55:135-142.

2. Johnson MD, Yu LR, Conrads TP, Kinoshita Y, Uo T, Matthews JD, Lee SW, Smith RD, Veenstra TD, Morrison RS. Proteome analysis of DNA damage-induced neuronal death using high throughput mass spectrometry. J Biol Chem 2004; 279:26685-97.


Reviews and Educationally Relevant Publications

1. Morrison RS, Kinoshita Y, Johnson MD, Guo W, Garden G. p53-dependent cell death signaling in neurons. Neurochem Res 2003;28:15-27.

2. Johnson MD. Retinoids blast medulloblastoma. Neurosurgery 2003; 53: Neurosurgery’s Science Times.

3. Black PM and Johnson, MD. Surgical resection for patients with solid brain metastases: Current status. Journal of Neuro-Oncology (in press).


Book chapters

1. Morrison RS, Kinoshita Y, Johnson MD, Conrads T. Proteomics in the post-genomic age. In: Veenstra T and Smith RD eds. Advances in Protein Chemistry: Proteome Characterization and Proteomics, 2003;65:1-23.





Home                Research               About Dr. Johnson                Contact