Andrea Poretti, Pediatric Neurologist at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dies at 39


Andrea Poretti, M.D. Credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Andrea Poretti, M.D., associate professor of radiology and radiological science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a brilliant physician-scientist in the field of pediatric neurology and neuroimaging, died March 20 at his home in Baltimore, Maryland, from natural causes. He was 39.

“Andrea was a perfect example of what makes Johns Hopkins great. He was a true physician-scientist with an unrelenting commitment to improving patient care through the translation of his trailblazing research. He was also our colleague and friend. We are devastated by his death,” says Karen Horton, M.D., interim director of radiology and radiological science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Born in April 1977 in Lugano, Switzerland, Poretti trained in pediatrics and pediatric neurology at the University Children’s Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland. He was recruited to Johns Hopkins by Thierry Huisman, M.D., in 2009 to join the Division of Pediatric Radiology as a research and postdoctoral fellow.

He was a world-renowned expert in pediatric cerebellar abnormalities and neurodegenerative and neurogenetic disorders. Using his combined expertise in clinical pediatric neurology and neuroimaging, he identified and described a new syndrome that by consensus has become known in the literature as Poretti syndrome. He was in charge of the research mission of pediatric neuroradiology at Johns Hopkins, which he led with incredible enthusiasm and boundless energy.

“Andrea was the most exceptional person. He was an extremely intelligent, hardworking, humble and beloved scientist, clinician and friend. His passing is an incredible loss to all people who had the privilege to know him,” says Huisman, professor of radiology and radiological science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who knew Poretti as a very close personal and academic friend for more than 15 years.

In his time at Johns Hopkins, Poretti published more than 100 scientific papers and gave more than 150 invited lectures internationally. His outstanding academic output earned him the affectionate nickname “The Publicator.” He mentored numerous promising young colleagues, was known for his encyclopedic knowledge and commitment to excellence, and was frequently consulted by radiologists and clinicians alike on “unknown” cases. Many physicians joked that “if Andrea did not know, most likely nobody would know.”

Poretti was recently promoted to associate professor in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, and in December 2016, he had started working as an attending in the Division of Neurogenetics at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Poretti is survived by two brothers, his mother and his father, all of whom live in Switzerland.

A funeral mass will be held on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen (5200 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21210) at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers or other memorials, please consider a donation to help establish a research fellowship at Johns Hopkins in his name. Details are still in progress, but you can communicate your interest in the project by contacting Thierry Huisman at



Chanapa Tantibanchachai