November 30, 2009

Kenneth L. Baughman, 63, former director of Cardiology

The Johns Hopkins Medicine community is mourning the sudden death of cardiologist Kenneth L. Baughman, who was killed in an accident Nov. 16 while running in Orlando, Fla. He was attending the annual Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association and was attempting to cross a street when a car struck him.

Baughman, 63, had been the E. Cowles Andrus Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, joining the faculty in 1979, and served as director of Cardiology from 1992 to 2002. He was then recruited to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to lead programs in advanced heart disease.

“The division faculty, fellows, nurses and staff are deeply shocked and saddened at Ken’s sudden and tragic death,” said Gordon Tomaselli, current director of Cardiology at Johns Hopkins. “Ken was a friend, colleague and mentor to many at Hopkins. He formed a lasting bond that endures to this day, not just with his students and co-workers but also with his patients, who share our sadness. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and children and the rest of his loving family, whose ties to Hopkins are deep and abiding.”

“Ken will be greatly missed,” said Edward Kasper, clinical director of Cardiology, who trained under Baughman as a resident and fellow from 1984 to 1991. “I will always remember Ken for his mentorship, his willingness to put the development of his trainees ahead of his own career. He had a heart of gold underneath a mask of gruffness. He never passed babies without picking them up and saying something kind.”

“In 1975, Ken was among the first Osler assistant chiefs of service, under the renowned Victor McKusick, to get the Hopkins system of four firms up and running,” said cardiologist Stephen Achuff, a professor at Johns Hopkins and one of Baughman’s closest friends. An institutional hallmark of medical residency training, the firms represent the breakdown of the typical large cadre of 80 medical residents into smaller, collegial groups—the implementation of which was a dramatic step that improved learning and patient care.

Baughman and Achuff both graduated from the University of Missouri Medical School in the 1960s, before meeting again as residents at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“My fondest memories of Ken,” Achuff said, “are of the camaraderie and friendship he evoked in so many of us at Hopkins.” Achuff also recollected annual summer gatherings in Bethany Beach, Del., as part of the so-called “beach group,” made up of the Baughmans, the Achuffs and the families of Bill Baumgartner, Craig Smith and Gary Walford, who would cheer on Baughman as he participated in the town’s annual triathlon.

“I first met Ken and his wife, Cheryl, in 1982, when he came to Stanford University to see how we ran our heart transplant program,” said Baumgartner, a cardiac surgeon. “Ken and I were partners from the beginning of the Hopkins [heart transplant] program in 1983. He was the medical director, and I was the surgical director,” added Baumgartner, a professor and vice dean for clinical affairs at Johns Hopkins, who recently stepped down as cardiac surgeon in charge at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“Ken was the consummate physician,” he continued. “I often said that if I was seriously ill with anything, cardiology related or not, I would want Ken taking care of me. He was the best. In addition to being a wonderful friend and colleague, he was also my cardiologist. He was the hardest worker in the hospital and touched so many lives of patients and colleagues here and at Brigham. It is hard to believe he is no longer among us.”

Other colleagues noted that Baughman was dedicated to caring for his patients and linking clinical practice to research, focusing his efforts on diseases of the heart muscle.

In addition to his wife, Cheryl, Baughman is survived by his children, Matthew and Christopher; their wives, Michelle and Holly; and four grandchildren.