Dr. Lisa A. Kolp, a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine obstetrician and gynecologist who specialized in reproductive endocrinology and was nationally known for her surgical work in genital reconstruction for children, died of lymphoma Sunday at her Hunt Valley home.
She was 61.
"Lisa's death is a tough loss for us and certainly for her family. There hasn't been a dry eye in our division since she died. The staff so loved her," said Dr. Andrew J. Satin, chairman of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
"She was just a modest person who liked doing her job," he said. "She was indispensable to her patients and cared little for notoriety. That was not Lisa."
"She was also an outstanding teacher for the students, residents and fellows," said Dr. Jairo E. Garcia, director of the Fertility Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine and a former director of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center Fertility Center for 13 years.
"For her patients, she had an understanding for their situations, to which she brought love and compassion," said Dr. Garcia. "She was such a wonderful human being and so full of energy. Her death is such a tremendous loss.
"Helping people was her world," he said.
The daughter of Arthur Kolp, a career Army officer, and Delpha Kolp, Lisa Ann Kolp was born in Albuquerque, N.M. Because of assignments involved in her father's military service, she was raised in Paris, Madrid and in Spokane, Wash., where she graduated from Lewis and Clark High School.
While attending Stanford University as a biology major, Dr. Kolp was considering careers in either veterinary medicine or people medicine — and settled on the latter.
"As her older brother John will tell you, she grew up a lover of all things living, especially dogs, and he always expected her to be a doctor," wrote her husband of 38 years, Dr. Roger A. Johns, a professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a profile of his wife.
It was the noisy bouncing of a basketball that brought the two Stanford undergraduates together.
"We met when she came up to my dorm room to complain about my bouncing a basketball on the floor when she was trying to sleep," he wrote. "Turned out Lisa was a Stanford women's basketball player. She was a 5-11 athlete, and in high school she excelled at basketball, volleyball and track and field. Her volleyball team was invited to the Pan Am Games."
After Dr. Johns graduated in 1977 from Stanford, he returned home to Detroit to study medicine at Wayne State Medical School. The couple became engaged and later married.
After Dr. Kolp graduated from Stanford in 1978, she decided against attending medical school at Stanford and instead joined her husband at Wayne State. They both worked as interns and residents at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. She completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology.
After completing fellowships in reproductive endocrinology at Virginia in 1989, she and her husband joined the medical school faculty. They remained there until coming to Hopkins in 1999, where Dr. Kolp joined the faculty of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics.
She was "famous among her patients as a highly dedicated, personal and loving physician who went the extra mile," her husband wrote. He said her gift was helping couples "deal with infertility and build families."
She was also nationally recognized for her reconstructive work for children with genital abnormalities.
In addition to her work with infertility and in vitro fertilization, Dr. Kolp had a deep academic interest in developing a frozen embryo banking program for young women with cancer.
Dr. Garcia noted that her work in the preservation of eggs "meant that a patient who had been treated for cancer could, within three to five years, become a parent."
"How many she helped with in vitro fertilization to conception would surely have to be in the hundreds," said Dr. Satin, who noted that Dr. Kolp's patients greatly appreciated her "calm, soothing and nonthreatening personality."
Gifted with a dry infectious wit and a kind demeanor, she made sure that her office door was always open for patients and students.
Dr. Kolp put in long hours — it wasn't uncommon for her to see patients at 6 a.m. so they could get to work on time.
Those visiting her office were in for a surprise, said Dr. Garcia: "There were no diplomas on the wall. She keep them in a box. That's how modest she was."
She avoided the electronic medical records system, her husband said, and preferred waiting until the end of the day before entering information into the system because she did not want to interfere with her face-to-face time with patients.
In 1995 she wrote her brother-in-law, Dr. Michael M.E. Johns, then the dean of the Johns Hopkins University Medical School, in response to an editorial he had written on how difficult it was for women to succeed in academic medicine.
"When I came to accept that my children would have to be an equal priority with my career, I spent some time vacillating between despair at ever having a meaningful career in academic medicine and blind optimism that things would somehow work out," she wrote.
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"When promotions committees and the like begin to evaluate women based on the quality of their work and not the speed with which their careers advance, women will begin to be represented in appropriate proportions to the higher ranks of academic faculties," Dr. Kolp wrote.
Dr. Kolp was an enthusiastic flower and vegetable gardener and, as an animal lover, she engaged in animal rescue work.
"Lisa was the kind of person who would pick up and remove worms from the sidewalk," her husband said.
A celebration of life service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Lemmon Funeral Home, 10 W. Padonia Road, Timonium.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by two sons, Brian Johns, a graduate student at the University of Maryland, and Matthews Johns, a graduate student at Columbia University; a daughter, Jessica Johns, who will be entering medical school in the fall; her father, Arthur Kolp, and stepmother, Marianne Kolp of Reno, Nev.; a brother, John Kolp of Spokane; and three sisters, Terry Kolp of Spokane, Debbie Kolp of Seattle and Cindy Kolp of Portland, Ore.