A native of Nebraska, Dr. JOHN W. "JACK" GRIFFIN was a 1963 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa. He obtained his medical degree in 1968 from Stanford, where he spent two years as an intern and resident. Beginning as a neurology resident at Hopkins in 1970, Griffin spent his entire four-decade career in the School of Medicine.
Dr. Griffin was one of the world’s top experts, both as a clinician and researcher, on peripheral nerve disorders. He became a leading figure in studies of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disease in which the immune system attacks nerves, leading to rapidly evolving paralysis of the legs, arms, face, and muscles used in breathing. He went on to play a central role in studying the mechanisms of nerve degeneration and regeneration, and his work led to numerous treatments for neuromuscular disorders.
Griffin was named head of the Department of Neurology and neurologist-in-chief of The Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1999. As head of neurology, he oversaw the expansion of what already was the country’s largest neurology critical care unit to a 22-bed facility for the treatment of patients.
He remained head of neurology until 2006, when ill health compelled him to step down. He recovered, however, and became the founding director of the Brain Science Institute in 2007. That same year, he received the Johns Hopkins Heritage Award for outstanding service to the university.
A prolific researcher, Dr. Griffin focused on understanding the mechanisms of degeneration and regeneration in peripheral nerves. He published more than 300 studies in scientific journals, edited major textbooks on peripheral neuropathies, and was editor of the neurological journal Nature Neurology.
JEFFREY D. ROTHSTEIN, the inaugural John W. Griffin Director of the Brain Science Institute, received a master’s degree in neurochemistry from the University of Chicago and a PhD in physiology and biophysics from the University of Illinois Health Sciences Center. He then obtained his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine and went on to complete an internship at the University of North Carolina Memorial Hospital before joining The Johns Hopkins Hospital for his residency. While at Johns Hopkins, he became chief resident in neurology and completed his fellowship in neuromuscular disease.
Now a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Rothstein focuses on neuromuscular diseases, in particular on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In 2000, Dr. Rothstein organized the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins and serves as medical director. This is the first multi-institutional, multi-national collaborative academic organization devoted to understanding the causes of ALS and translating the information into new drug and cell-based therapies. It was his research on ALS pathogenesis that led to the first successful, FDA-approved drug to alter neurodegeneration in ALS. Other clinical areas relevant to his laboratory-based research include idiopathic stupor, epilepsy and motor neuron degeneration.
His laboratory research includes: (1) various molecular mechanisms of selective neurodegeneration in motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; (2) identification of novel drug or peptide therapeutics to delay or prevent motor neuron degeneration in ALS through the use of cell culture and transgenic models of ALS; (3) use of neuronal and non-neuronal stem cell therapies to treat motor neuron diseases including ALS and spinal muscular atrophy; (4) models of motor axon regeneration regrowth; (5) clinical trials of novel therapeutics in ALS; (6) basic biology of glutamate transporters and their role in acute and chronic neuronal degeneration (e.g., ALS, epilepsy, stroke, spinocerebellar ataxia); and (7) cloning and characterization of novel proteins which may be responsible for the cellular regulation of glutamate transporters. His laboratory includes more than 20 postdoctoral fellows, neurology residents, neuromuscular and epilepsy fellows, undergraduate students, technicians and ALS clinic staff.
Dr. Rothstein has been the principal and/or local investigator in eight national or international trials in ALS. He is the author of more than 100 articles on basic and clinical neuroscience.