Dr. John Crawford, CHOC’s new Medical Director of Neurology and Co-Medical Director of the CHOC Neuroscience Institute, is an accomplished neurologist, neuro-oncologist, physician leader and karaoke performer.
But when he’s not entertaining audiences with his rendition of Kenny Loggin’s “Footloose,” Dr. Crawford provides comprehensive neurological services to patients, while helping lead the continued growth of CHOC’s Neuroscience Institute.
Dr. Crawford’s interest in medicine originally came as a surprise. He had a strong dislike for hospitals and no physicians or physician mentors in his family. Instead, Dr. Crawford sparked an interest in medicine at age 13 while watching the TV Medical Examiner, Dr. Quincy, on “Quincy M.E.” And with first aid and wilderness medicine practice in Boy Scouts, Dr. Crawford soon believed that helping people through medicine was something he was just supposed to do.
This sense of purpose motivated Dr. Crawford to complete both his undergraduate and graduate education in biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, while concurrently working in labs to research potential cures for cancer and other diseases — becoming the first college graduate in his family.
Dr. Crawford then attended medical school at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester, Massachusetts, and served his residency at the University of Southern California. He credits his training at the LAC + USC Medical Center to be pivotal in his medical career. Dr. Crawford learned how to take the best care of patients with limited resources in an underserved community.
The culmination of Dr. Crawford’s training at USC, interest in working with kids and previous lab work lead him to perform his Child Neurology and Neuro-oncology fellowships at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Now, Dr. Crawford joins CHOC from Rady Children’s Hospital, where he served as director of its Neuro-oncology Program; started and led its Neuro-Oncology Fellowship Program; and established the Pediatric Neurology Education and Research program.
At CHOC, Dr. Crawford describes his role as a “matchmaker,” planning to bring multi-disciplinary staff and providers together to build on CHOC’s excellence in clinical care, education, research and innovation. He also hopes that CHOC can collaborate with other thought leaders in the community and utilize new innovations for novel treatments and diagnoses of pediatric neurological disorders.
“I will measure my personal success as a leader based on the success of others,” says Dr. Crawford.
Dr. Crawford’s appointment at CHOC comes at an exciting time, given the Neuroscience Institute’s growth, expanded treatment modalities, and future plans that include building an inpatient Neuroscience Unit in what is currently shelled space in the Bill Holmes Tower of CHOC’s hospital campus in Orange.
Alongside Co-Medical Director Dr. Suresh Magge, Dr. Crawford hopes to expand the Neuroscience and Neuro-oncology programs at CHOC, improving accessibility for patients in Orange County and beyond. In addition, he wants to create a robust, multi-tiered research approach to find potential cures to some brain disorders, with real-time drug screenings to determine the efficacy of treatments and therapies.
Dr. Crawford feels fortunate to be on the team at CHOC. “They are such an unselfish, caring, dedicated and kind group of individuals who share one mission: protecting the health and well-being of children,” he says. “You can see it in the eyes and actions of everyone — whether it be nurses, physicians or staff.”
At CHOC, Dr. Crawford enjoys meeting with colleagues in the physician dining room, where he delights in the breakfast specialties like tater tots and bacon. Outside of work, Dr. Crawford enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, playing tennis, collecting Star Wars memorabilia, performing stand-up comedy and of course, singing karaoke.
CHOC Hospital was named one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in its 2022-23 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings and ranked in the neurology/neurosurgery specialty.