Faculty Directory
Mark Johnson

Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Professor of Ophthalmology


2145 Sheridan Road
Tech E378
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

847-467-7143Email Mark Johnson




Biomedical Engineering

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Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, MIT, Cambridge, MA

M.S. Mechanical Engineering, MIT, Cambridge, MA

B.S. Mathematics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

B.S. Interdisciplinary Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Research Interests

Prof. Johnson is internationally known for his work on ocular biomechanics, particular with regards to the pathogenesis of glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Studies in his group currently involve a bioengineering approach that utilize perfusion studies, atomic force microscopy and theoretical analysis in combination with use of high-resolution morphometry and finite element modeling. He has been involved in the study of a variety of physiological transport and mechanics problems for the past 30 years including flow through the aqueous humor outflow pathways as relates to glaucoma, transport and mechanics of the arterial wall, transport through the cornea, transport through macromolecular gels such as hyaluronic acid and Matrigel, transport through Bruch’s membrane and cell mechanics.

Courses Taught

  • BME 377: Intermediate Fluid Mechanics. Fundamental concepts of fluid dynamics. Kinematics, mass and momentum balances, constitutive relations. Navier-Stokes equations and methods of solution. Scaling techniques.
  • BME 378/478: Transport Fundamentals. Fundamental and biomedical applications of diffusive and convective heat and mass transfer.
  • BME 452: Transport Through Connective Tissues. Fluid flow and mass transfer applications through extracellular matrix. Porous media theory. Applications to drug transport.

Selected Publications



Johnson, M. and Ethier, C. Ross: Problems for Biomedical Fluid Mechanics and Transport Phenomena, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Selected Chapters (out of 7):

Johnson, M. and Erickson, K.: Mechanisms and routes of aqueous humor drainage. Principles and Practice of Ophthalmology, Volume I: Basic Sciences, chapter 11B, Ed. Albert , D.M. and Jakobiec, F.A., WB Saunders Co. Philadelphia, 2000.

Johnson, D. and Johnson, M.: How does non-penetrating glaucoma surgery work?, Non-Penetrating Glaucoma Surgery , Chapter 4, Ed. Mermoud, A. and Shaarawy, T., Martin Dunitz, Ltd., London, 2001 (reprinted from Journal of Glaucoma).

Curcio, C.A. and Johnson, M.: Structure, function and pathology of Bruch's membrane., Retina, 6th Edition, Ed. David Hinton, Elsevier, 2017.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Papers (out of 76):

Curcio, CA, Johnson, M, Rudolf, M and Huang, J-D: The oil spill in ageing Bruch membrane, British Journal of Ophthalmology, 95:1638-1645, 2011.

Cankova, Z, Huang, J-D, Kruth, HS and Johnson, M: Passage of low-density lipoprotein through Bruch's membrane and choroid, Experimental Eye Research, 93:947-955, 2012.

Vargas-Pinto, R, Gong, H and Johnson, M: The effect of the endothelial cell cortex on atomic force microscopy measurements, Biophysical Journal, 105:300-309, 2013.

Overby, DR, Zhou,EH, Vargas-Pinto, R, Pedrigi, RM, Fuchshofer, R, Braakman, ST, Gupta, R, Perkumas,KM, Sherwood, JM, Vahabikashi, A, Dang, Q, Kim,JH, Ethier, CR, Stamer, WD, Fredberg, J and Johnson, M: Altered mechanobiology of Schlemm's canal endothelial cells in glaucoma, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111: 13876-13881, 2014.

Yang, C-Y, Huynh, T, Johnson, M and Gong, H: Endothelial glycocalyx layer in the aqueous outflow pathway of bovine and human eyes, Experimental Eye Research, 128: 27-33, 2014.

Vargas-Pinto,R, Lai, J, Gong, H, Ethier,CR, Johnson, M: Finite element analysis of the pressure-induced deformation of Schlemm's canal endothelial cells, Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology, 14:851-863, 2015.

Stamer, WD, Braakman, ST, Zhou, EH, Ethier, CR, Fredberg, JJ, Overby, DR, and Johnson, M: Biomechanics of Schlemm’s Canal Endothelium and Intraocular Pressure Reduction, Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, 44: 86-98, 2015.

Park, C-Y, Zhou, EH, Tambe, D, Chen, B, Lavoie, T, Dowell, M, Simeonov, A, Maloney, DJ, Marinkovic, A, Tschumperlin, DJ, Burger, S, Frykenberg, M, Butler, JP, Stamer, WD, Johnson, M, Solway, J, Fredburg, JJ and Krishnan, R: High-throughput screening for modulators of cellular contractile force, in press, Integrative Biology, 2015.

Johnson, M, McLaren, JW, and Overby, DR: Unconventional aqueous humor outflow; a reviewExperimental Eye Research, 158: 94-111, 2017.

Stack, T, Vahabikashi, A, Johnson, M, and Scott, E: Modulation of Schlemm's canal endothelial cell stiffness via latrunculin loaded block copolymer micelles, Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, 00A: 000-000, 2018.

Tanna, AP and Johnson, M: Rho kinase inhibitors as a novel treatment for glaucoma and ocular hypertension, Ophthalmology 125: 1741-1756, 2018.

Vahabikashi, A., Young Park, C., Perkumas, K., Zhang, Z., Deuloo, H.W., Weitz, D.A., Stamer, W.D., Goldman, R.D., Fredberg, J.J., Johnson, M.: Probe sensitivity to cortical versus intracellular cytoskeletal network stiffnessBiophysical Journal 116: 518-529, 2019.

Vahabikashi, A., Gelman, A., Dong, B., Gong, L., Cha, E.D.K., Schimmel, M., Ernst, E., Perkumas, K., Stamer, W.D., Cheng, S., Zhang, H., Gong, H., and Johnson, M.Increased stiffness and flow resistance of the inner wall of Schlemm's canal in glaucomatous human eyes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116: 26555-26563, 2019.

 Stack, T, Vincent, M, Vahabikashi, A, Li, G, Perkumas, KM, Stamer, WD, Johnson, M and Scott, E: Targeted delivery of cell softening micelles to Schlemm's canal endothelial cells for treatment of glaucomaSmall 16, 2021.

In the Classroom

Professor Johnson's teaching philosophy centers on the importance of problem solving. All of his courses focus on this engineering skill. In collaboration with Professor Ross Ethier of Georgia Tech, he is publishing a book (through Cambridge University Press) on flow and transport problems that emphasizes these skills.

Administrative Contact

Barbara Kassner
Accounting Specialist, Northwestern University
Phone: 847-491-8178