Council Commentary

A Tribute to Elof Johansson’s Life and Legacy

The Population Council pays tribute to Dr. Elof D.B. Johansson and his legacy of contributions to improving the health and reproductive choices of women, men, and young people globally. Johansson passed away on 30 January at his home in Western Sweden. 

Johansson joined the Population Council’s Board of Trustees in 1995, and subsequently assumed the role of Vice President and Director of the Center for Biomedical Research from 1996 to 2006. In the latter capacity, he oversaw the Council’s research and development of new contraceptive methods and HIV prevention technologies. He was also a member of the Population Council’s International Committee for Contraceptive Research (ICCR), an international advisory board that contributes to the development of new contraceptives and reproductive medicine, from its inception in 1970 to 1987, and directed the ICCR from 1996 to 2006 when he retired. He was appointed Emeritus of the ICCR during the 100th meeting of the committee in 2012.

Johansson had particular expertise in the study of steroid hormones used for contraception and developed a rapid competitive protein binding technique to measure progesterone. 

Johansson received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Arkansas in 1965 and his PhD from Uppsala University in Sweden in 1969. He continued his career at Uppsala University, as a Ford Foundation fellow (1968–1970), Assistant Professor (1970–1976), and full Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, where was the youngest ever Head of Department (1976–1983). 

In 1983, he joined the industrial sector, serving as Research Director at Pharmacia AB, Uppsala, ascending to President of the Health Care Division in 1985, and Vice Executive President from 1986 to 1990. He then served as Vice President and Head of Science and Technical Division in Procordia AB, Stockholm, until 1996, when he joined the Population Council.

Johansson received many awards, published a large number of scientific papers, and was a member of several prestigious societies including the Nordic Rotary Group of Professors of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Swedish Society for Obstetrics & Gynecology, which he chaired from 1980 to 1982. He was also known for supporting the development of young scientists over the course of his career.

The Population Council extends our deepest condolences to Johansson’s family and will remember him for his deep commitment to improving the health of the most vulnerable people in the world. 

Photo: Dr. Johansson in a laboratory at Pharmacia where he was Head of Research and Development.