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Ann Johanson AB '56

​An Exceptional Game Changer

Dr. Ann Johanson AB '56 is the consummate team player.An accomplished athlete, she lettered in varsity basketball, softball, volleyball and field hockey as a premedical student at Washington University. "Team sports helped me to build leadership and communication skills that have been beneficial throughout my life," she says. In addition to the rigors of the pre-med curriculum, she recalls the daily sprints from Francis Field House to the quad. "We had ten minutes between classes," she recollects. "I had to change clothes and run to physics class at the opposite end of campus. I’m amazed at how often I was able to make it on time," she says with disbelief.

After graduation, Ann taught physical education at Mary Institute in St. Louis and then earned her medical degree from the University of Missouri Columbia. She completed her residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and a fellowship at Johns Hopkins Medical School. Then she accepted a professorship at the University of Virginia where she became the first female full professor in pediatrics and developed a pediatric endocrinology division at the University of Virginia Medical Center.

In 1983, Genentech, a California-based biotechnology firm, hired Ann as the first physician in their endocrine clinical research department She continued to break ground for women in the field when she became the first female endocrinology director at the company. Among her many outstanding achievements during her 20-year tenure at Genentech was the development and clinical use of synthetic recombinant human growth hormone (rHGH), which significantly improves the lives of children deficient in growth hormone. Her modesty is apparent as she discusses her accomplishments, emphasizing collaboration and acknowledging the contributions of colleagues.

Since retiring, Ann has moved back to St. Louis. As a volunteer for Washington University, she is active with the Eliot Society and her class reunion, and she is looking forward to celebrating her 60th reunion in the spring.In 2013, she received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Arts & Sciences for her outstanding career contributions and groundbreaking achievements in pediatric endocrinology.

A longstanding supporter of the university, Ann is particularly passionate about supporting scholarships.She has established several charitable gift annuities and has named Washington University as a beneficiary of her IRA. These gifts will endow the Ann J. Johanson Scholarship Fund to benefit premedical students in Arts & Sciences.

Reflecting on her motivation to support scholarships through her planned gifts, Ann says, "I have been so very blessed by many gifts I didn't earn or may not have deserved and that so many in in our society haven't received. Therefore I feel obligated to share some of my good fortune with others for their benefit."

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