16:32 PM

Northwestern Medicine Taps Douglas R. Johnston, MD, to Lead Cardiac Surgery


Dr. Johnston will serve as chief of cardiac surgery and surgical director of Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute


CHICAGO -  Nationally recognized cardiothoracic surgeon, Douglas R. Johnston, MD, has been named surgical director of Northwestern Medicine’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and chief of the division of cardiac surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“Dr. Johnston has a strong vision for growth, innovation, sustainability and teamwork. We are confident that his leadership, combined with Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute’s world-class team, will elevate our cardiac surgery program to another level of national prominence,” said Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, who is stepping down as chief of Cardiac Surgery after 18 years in that role. Dr. McCarthy will continue to serve as executive director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and vice president of clinical integration for Northwestern Medical Group.

Dr. Johnston joins Northwestern Medicine from the Cleveland Clinic where he served as vice chair of the department of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, program director of the thoracic surgery residency and advanced cardiothoracic fellowships, and surgical director of the Aortic Valve Center. Dr. Johnston specializes in minimally invasive aortic and mitral valve surgery, aortic and endovascular surgery, complex reoperations, pericardial disease and radiation associated cardiac disease.

“I'm very lucky to join an organization that is already a center of excellence in so many ways and is also on a very steep upward trajectory,” said Dr. Johnston. “The vision is to differentiate ourselves as a place where patients can get the best quality care, not just locally but nationally, for both common and uncommon, complex cardiac conditions. I look forward to continuing Bluhm’s legacy of success by working with a very talented team of surgeons to innovate, creatively improve care and continue to grow the program and its reputation.”

Dr. Johnston’s clinical interests and expertise is matched by his innovation portfolio. The accomplished inventor has contributed to 12 submitted or issued patents for inventions that have improved different aspects of patient care, data collection and workflow, and employee well-being. He also has extensive research experience, which started when he was an undergraduate at Dartmouth College and was awarded the Claire Garber Goodman Fund Scholarship. This scholarship gave him the opportunity to be the principal investigator for a study of tuberculosis treatment and prevention in a community with strong indigenous health systems in northern India.

Dr. Johnston earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1998 before completing his clinical training in general surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He was awarded the Edward D. Churchill Fellowship, the American College of Surgeons Resident Research Scholarship and an NIH National Research Service Award for his research in the immunology of heart and lung transplantation. He trained in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, including a focused fellowship in endovascular surgery. In 2008, he joined the Cleveland Clinic as a staff surgeon.

“Since its beginning, the goal of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute has been to bring world-class cardiovascular care to Chicago, which we have proudly achieved,” said Dr. McCarthy. “The addition of Dr. Johnston to our leadership team furthers that level of excellence and will support our commitment to improving heart care by pioneering advanced treatments, performing groundbreaking clinical research, and incorporating innovative technology and artificial intelligence into clinical practice.”

Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is an innovative powerhouse in developing the latest, safest advances in cardiovascular care. Anchored in downtown Chicago, it has expanded and integrated into eight Northwestern Medicine hospitals, most recently bringing advanced cardiovascular services to the south suburbs at Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital. Consistently recognized as one of the top cardiology and cardiac surgery programs in the country, Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital is ranked eighth in the country by U.S. News & World Report in the annual “America’s Best Hospitals” rankings.

For more information about Northwestern Medicine's top ranked cardiovascular care, go to or call 312-NM-HEART. For more information about Northwestern Medicine, visit