Research Leadership: Keith Johnson, Ph.D.

January 29, 2015

Image with caption: Keith Johnson, Ph.D.

Keith Johnson, Ph.D.

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored Feb. 2 at a ceremony for UNMC's 2014 Scientist Laureate, Research Leadership, Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator Award recipients.

You're invited!

The campus is invited to attend the ninth annual Distinguished Scientist Ceremony at 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2, at the Durham Research Center Auditorium. Each year, faculty members who have made significant contributions to the research enterprise at UNMC are recognized by the leadership and their peers. This year, 25 researchers and one community volunteer will be recognized for their accomplishments. The Scientist Laureate, Tatiana Bronich, Ph.D., will deliver an address to the assembly and a reception honoring the awardees will be held immediately following the award ceremony.

  • Name: Keith Johnson, Ph.D.
  • Title: Professor, oral biology
  • Joined UNMC: 2001
  • Hometown: Trimont, Minn.

Describe your research briefly in layman's terms.
We study the biology and biochemistry of cell adhesion. We are interested in the role cell adhesion plays in cancer progression.

How does your research contribute to science and/or health care?
We hope it contributes to a better understanding of metastasis and ways to control or treat it.

What is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you, professional or personal?
The best advice I ever received was from Peggy Wheelock, who said to me one day in the fall of 1976, "We should get married."

List three things few people know about you.

  • Around the turn of the 20th century, three of my grandparents immigrated to the United States from Sweden; the fourth was born just after his parents had immigrated to the Unites States from Sweden. So, as recently noted by our president, I, along with so many of those reading this text, am from an immigrant family.
  • In spite of the way it made the house smell as, over a period of days, the lye was soaked out of it, I have on a number of occasions looked forward to eating lutefisk. However, I have no adequate answer to a question Peggy asked: "If it's so good, why do you have it only once a year?"
  • On Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, it will be six years since Peggy died.


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Sherry Martin
January 29, 2015 at 8:10 AM

Congratulations Dr. Johnson! Although I've only briefly come to know you, in that short time I know I am in good company. You have caused me to stop and say, "hmmmm" about things I would not normally even think about - thank you. I'm sorry to just now hear of the loss of your wife; it's so obvious by your words that you will spend a lifetime missing Peggy. I wish you continued success in your future.