Smith L. Johnston, III, M.D., M.S.


Medical Officer and Leader of Fatigue Management and Human Health, Performance, and Longevity Programs at NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. Associate of Clinical Faculties for the Department of Aerospace Medicine at UTMB, Galveston, Texas.


Dr. Smith Johnston has spent most of his career as a Medical Officer and Flight Surgeon for NASA Medical Operations Branch at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Over the past 25 years, he has supported the medical care of the active Astronaut Corps, their families, and the retired Astronauts. He has been the lead physician for the International Space Station (ISS) Emergency Medical System and Crew Return Vehicle development and has supported two Expedition ISS missions and over 25 Shuttle missions, including the tragic STS-107 Columbia mission.  Over the last three years he has served as the Medical Director of NASA-JSC Aerospace and Occupational Medicine Clinics, and is presently the lead of NASA’s Astronaut Medical Selection and Retention Standards, and the Fatigue Management and Wellness, Human Performance, and Longevity Programs. 

Dr. Johnston’s expertise centers on taking the innovations discovered from the US and International Space Programs to benefit, not only the lives of the Astronauts and Cosmonauts, but also his Earth-bound patients. He gives educational presentations on Space Medicine, and its terrestrial applications for Human Health, Performance, and Longevity and has been featured in various media including NOVA, Discovery Channel, Scientific America, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Houston Chronicle, Consumer Reports, and USA Today.

Dr. Johnston is a member of the Clinical Faculties, at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Dept. of Preventive, Occupational and Environmental Medicine in Galveston, Texas and Wright State University, Dept. of Aerospace Medicine in Dayton, Ohio.  He presently serves on the Board of Directors for Houston Medical Centers Hospice and Palliative Care System, the Scientific Advisory Board for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, the Medical Advisory Board of Virgin Galactic, and the Scientific Advisory Board for Lighting Sciences, Inc.  He has served on the Advisory and Oversight Committees for the National Science Foundation’s American Polar Medicine Program, Washington, DC and has held staff positions with the Veterans Administration Medical Center Emergency Department and Department of Internal Medicine, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, Inc., in Houston, Texas.  

In addition to over 100 scientific publications, book chapters, and keynote speaker presentations, Dr. Johnston has been the recipient of numerous awards including the NASA Space and Life Science Performance Award, the NASA Superior Service Award, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. He is a member and of the Aerospace Medical Association and received the Society of NASA Flight Surgeons, Lovelace Award in May 2011.  Dr. Johnston received the highest award given by the Space Medicine Association, The Hubertus Strughold Lifetime Achievement Award, in May 2012.  He served as President of the Space Medicine Association in 2005 and President of the Society of NASA Flight Surgeons in 2006. Dr. Johnston is Board Certified in Aerospace Medicine from the American Board of Preventive Medicine and a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association.

Smith Johnston, from Woodstock, Georgia, received a Bachelor of Science in biology in 1976 and a Doctor of Medicine in 1981 from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  From 1984 to 1990, Dr. Johnston completed residencies in Internal and Aerospace Medicine from Wright State University, as well as a Master’s of Science in Aerospace and Preventive Medicine.  He was Chief Resident in Internal Medicine in 1987-88.

Dr. Johnston, currently divides his time between Houston, Texas and Woodstock, Georgia, when not traveling with his wife Nina and sons Matt and Smith.