Charles E. Johnston, II, MD
Charles E. Johnston MD (“Charlie”) is assistant chief of staff emeritus at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, where he practiced continuously since 1985, until his retirement from direct patient care in 2021. A native of Southern California with family ties to south Texas, he completed his undergraduate studies at Yale University and then graduated from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons for medical school. He completed a surgical internship in San Antonio, and an orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville. He returned to Texas as a Harrington Fellow in Pediatric Orthopaedics and Scoliosis at TSRH in Dallas in 1981-1982.
Drs. Karol, Johnston, and Newton
Dr. Johnston is currently Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He is an elite reviewer for the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and the Journal of Children’s Orthopaedics. He is a fellow in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and serves on the executive committee of the Pediatric Spine Study Group and Foundation. An active member of the Scoliosis Research Society since 1987, he delivered the 2021 Harrington lecture on “The Search for Biologic Treatments Addressing Etiology
A member of POSNA since 1986, he has served on multiple committees and received its Humanitarian Award in 2020, particularly acknowledging his work in Palestine. He also is a member of the European Pediatric Orthopaedic Society and the Texas Orthopedic Association.
Dr. Johnston has published over 150 papers in peer-reviewed journals and authored approximately 30 book chapters. He has been an invited faculty or visiting professor at national and international institutions on over 60 occasions. At last count, he has mentored and participated in the training of about 160 pediatric orthopedic surgeons practicing nationally and internationally.
Most important, Charlie and his wife Ellen have been married for 46 years, have two daughters and five grandchildren.
Orthopedic staff at TSRH for 36 years.
Involved with the training of 160+ pediatric orthopedic fellows.
POSNA Humanitarian Award 2020
Other Career Highlights
1. Development of TSRH instrumentation
2. Biomechanical performance of spinal implants
3. Anterior solid rod instrumentation and fusion for scoliosis
4. Single rod construct for scoliosis
5. Halo-gravity traction for severe spinal deformity
6. Early onset scoliosis management
7. 3D analysis and functional outcome evaluation of clubfoot
9. Physeal resection and updated classification for infantile Blount disease
10. Suggested management of Congenital Pseudarthrosis of the Tibia
Most Memorable Patient Experience
“You tend to remember the most recent unusual case which would be a 7-year-old with Gorham’s Disease of the Femur. Took out the entire femur, did a Van Nes Rotationplasty and put the tibia in the acetabulum. And she is now doing great.”
Service to POSNA
Membership Committee 1989 – 1992, Chairman 1991-1992
Program Committee 1992-95, Chairman 1994
Growing Spine Committee 2007-10 Chair 2010
Committee on Underserved Regions 2013 – 2019
Pediatric Orthopaedic Global Outreach (formerly COUR) 2014-2017
Industry Relations Committee 2011-2013
Research Grant Committee 2017-2020
Service to Other Medical Societies
Scoliosis Research Society
Instrumentation Committee – 1990 – 1993 (Chairman 1993), Growing Spine Committee – 2004 – 7, Database Committee - 2006 – 09, Worldwide conference committee 2007 – 2011, Research Grant Committee 2011 – 14 (Chairman 2014), Program Committee 2017-2021, Education Committee 2018-2021, Growing Spine Committee 2019-present
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery
Dallas County Medical Society
Texas Medical Association
American Orthopaedic Association
Texas Orthopaedic Association
European Pediatric Orthopaedic Society
Spine Deformity Study Group, member
- Early Onset Scoliosis Study (EOSS), leader
Growing Spine Study Group and Foundation, executive committee
Orthopaedics, editorial board
The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, reviewer
Tachdjian’s Pediatric Orthopaedics, Third, Fourth and Fifth Editions, contributing author
Journal of Children’s Orthopaedics, editorial board
Other Community Service
Board of Directors, United Cerebral Palsy in Dallas 1990s
Orthopedic Consultant, Texas Department of Mental Health and Rehabilitation – Abilene and Denton State Schools, 1985-2000
Pediatric Orthopedic missions Palestine, Jordan, Guatemala, and Honduras 2005-2019: patient treatment and instruction local surgeons.
Ellen, wife of 46 years (as of 2022): Landscape Designer
Daughters (2) : Spin and Pilates Instructor ; Kindergarten Teacher
“Pop-Pop” to his five Grandchildren
Long time Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars fan and season ticket holder.
Avid concert goer (“Deadhead”) and plays the acoustic and electric guitar.
Low handicap golfer in a prior life
Words of Wisdom/Advice to Younger POSNA Members
“Stay reluctant to accept ‘dogma’”
“Your most important legacy is to pass on what you know / what you learned”
“Teaching someone how to do it is far better than just showing them”
“Charlie was an innovator from the very beginning of his life as a pediatric orthopaedist. He was never one to shy away from a problem and has always been willing to fail spectacularly - to go down swinging rather than give up. This is a trait few of us have. He lives by the adage “to avoid failure is to avoid success”. His willingness to innovate led to the development of the TSRH spinal implant system, advancements in the care of patients with early onset scoliosis, bar resection for infantile Blounts disease, the utility of halo traction for severe spinal deformities and treatment of congenital dislocation of the knee. There is not a single area in our field that he is unwilling or unable to apply his genius to.” - Chip Iwinski, MD
“Charlie and Rich Ashman were the driving force for behind the development of the "TSRH Universal Spine Implant System." The unique aspect of the system was the ability to use a large diameter rod anteriorly and "bone screws" that were subsequently adapted for pedicle use. He has continued to be in innovator in spine deformity treatment. He was one of the earliest leaders identifying the need to develop better treatments for early onset scoliosis and has been an enthusiastic advocate for scientific measurement and comprehensive (including nonoperative) treatment for children with this difficult condition. Charlie has also been innovator in the treatment of congenital knee dislocations – advocating for femoral shortening to accomplish relative quadriceps lengthening without creating scar tissue. He is truly "a Renaissance man" in pediatric orthopedics; his intellect and scientific acumen have improved the treatment for children with a breath of different conditions.” - Karl Rathjen, MD
I was a fellow on Dr. Johnston’s rotation in the fall of 2007. We were in clinic and he was grumbling as he tended to do from time to time. The clinic staff were all a bit on edge as he moved with curt intensity and determination from room to room uttering very little while letting out the occasional exasperated sigh. After about an hour of this, without warning, I asked between patient rooms, “Dr. Johnston, what makes you happy?” You can insert record scratching sound here as everyone within earshot stopped what they were doing, held their breathe, and turned to watch Dr. Johnston completely destroy me, if not kill me outright. He looked at me with a very stern expression, sized me up, contemplated his possible courses of action; and, then his countenance softened, his brow unfurrowed, a small smile cracked under one side of his bushy mustache, and he said, “I want to see something that no one else has ever seen before.” For the rest of the day he chatted on about every patient encounter, providing education about each, even the very common and very boring. At one point he lamented that seeing in-toer after in-toer was like “being nibbled to death by ducks.” - Derek M. Kelly, MD
Dr. Johnston and his family
Biography written by Dr. Derek Kelly, on behalf of the Hall of Fame Committee. 2022.