Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, John Gilstad graduated from the United States Naval Academy in May 1987 and proceeded to medical school at Uniformed Services University. As a second year medical student he received a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Scholar award for two years of protein crystallography at the National Institutes of Health. After graduating from USU in 1993 he completed internal medicine residency training at the National Naval Medical Center and achieved board certification in 1996.
From 1996 to 1998 LT Gilstad was assigned as internist to Naval Medical Clinic Quantico, Virginia. At the clinic he served on the Executive Committee of the Medical Staff (ECOMS) as Credentials Advisor and chaired the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee. In his next assignment, at Naval Hospital Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, he served as Internal Medicine Department Head and continued his medical staff committee roles. In 2001 he returned to Maryland for a clinical fellowship in geriatrics at Johns Hopkins University, followed by assignment as staff internist at National Naval Medical Center where he also founded the command's Clinical Performance Data Committee. In 2004 he deployed aboard USNS COMFORT in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, providing perioperative care to wounded Iraqi combatants and civilians a well as coalition forces. In 2005 as Head of the NNMC Responsible Conduct of Research Department he developed new educational material for hospital staff undertaking or publishing research. From 2006 to 2009 he served at Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan, as Department Head for Medical Specialties and as Chairman of ECOMS. During this tour he established the hospital's monthly morbidity and mortality conference and pioneered combined case conferences with Japanese Self Defense Force Hospital Yokosuka. In August 2009 CDR Gilstad reported to the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, within the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda Maryland, as Department Head for Scientific Research. He led new initiatives in financial management, scientific peer review, portfolio management, drug development, and collaboration with NATO allies, as well as graduate education in radiobiology at USU. In August 2012 CAPT Gilstad reported to Naval Medical Research Unit 2 in Pearl Harbor as Executive Officer, served as Acting Commanding Officer from January to May 2013. At NAMRU-2 he focused on balancing disease surveillance, capacity building, and research in the scientific portfolio, and on standing up Navy Medical Research Center - Asia in Singapore. CAPT Gilstad departed Singapore in May 2014 to assume command at NAMRU-3 in Cairo.
Dr Gilstad served as Navy Delegate to the Young Physicians Section of the American Medical Association from 2002 to 2005. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and has been active in the Navy Chapter. He earned ten-year recertification in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, in 2006 and 2012 respectively, from the American Board of Internal Medicine.