• Professor, Department Of Anesthesiology
  • Adjunct Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Research Summary

Pharmacogenomics with an emphasis on development of biomarker signatures of chemotherapy induced neuropathic pain from gene variants, epigenetic mechanisms to include DNA methylation & microRNAs, and mRNA expression of genes associated with pain and neuroinflammation. Clinical pharmacology of sedative-opioid interactions, hemorrhagic shock & intravenous anesthetics, new clinical applications of remimazolam, and of approaches to total intravenous anesthesia.



Dr. Johnson completed his undergraduate education at the University of California at Berkeley graduating with honors in engineering. Graduate work included both a medical degree and a Masters of Science in bioengineering from Tulane University. Dr. Johnson received a health professions scholarship from the US Army. After completing medical school, he served as a general medical officer and research scientist at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington DC for 4 years. Dr. Johnson completed his postgraduate training at the University of Utah in Anesthesiology.

By way of clinical practice, Dr. Johnson is currently a staff physician and in his 11th year as Director of the Center for Patient Simulation in the Department of Anesthesiology of the University of Utah Health Sciences Center. His clinical practice focuses on acute pain management and regional anesthesia.

By way of professional service, Dr. Johnson serves as an oral board examiner for the American Board of Anesthesiology. He also serves on the American Society of Anesthesiologists Simulation Education Editorial Board. The main purpose of this board is to over see the simulation component of the 10-year maintenance of certification in anesthesiology. He is a member of the Objective Structured Clinical Examination Development Advisory committee to the American Board of Anesthesiology. He has served as a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Subcommittee on Drug Disposition. He has served for many years as a board member and officer of the International Society for Anaesthetic Pharmacology, of which he is the current president. He also serves as an Associate Editor for Anesthesia and Analgesia and ad hoc reviewer for numerous other anesthesia journals.

Dr. Johnson has served as a mentor to numerous undergraduate, medical, and graduate students as well as residents, fellows, and junior faculty interested in clinical research in Anesthesiology. He has served on several PhD dissertation committees in the department of biomedical engineering. Dr. Johnson was the recipient of the International Anesthesia Research Society’s Teaching Recognition Award in 2004. He is holder of the Carter M. Ballinger M.D. Presidential Chair in Anesthesiology at the University of Utah.

His research has focused on anesthetic drug interactions, visualizing drug behavior through novel drug displays, and anesthetic dosing in special populations. His recent work has focused on how opioids interact with sedative hypnotics and inhalation agents with an emphasis on the impact of drug interactions on dosing of intravenous anesthetics for moderate sedation. Current research collaborations include (1) exploring the profile of pain receptors in opioid naïve and tolerant patients undergoing elective surgery, (2) developing novel approaches to better detect respiratory depression in patients recovering from surgery, and (3) the use of transthoracic echocardiography to detect right heart dysfunction in patients with sleep apnea.

His most important (and fun) work is at home with his wife and four children. He enjoys coaching various recreation sports teams, endurance bicycle racing, snow skiing, organizing outdoor activities for youth groups, community service, and of course serving as a homework consultant.