Theodore Munsat

1930 - 2014

Professor Theodore L. Munsat died on November 22, 2013 in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA at age 83. He was Emeritus professor of Neurology at Tufts University School of Medicine and served the World Federation of Neurology (WFN) in several capacities as trustee, chairman of the WFN Education and research committees, chairman of the WFN ALS Research group and founding director of the WFN Seminars in Clinical Neurology. He was president of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), 1989-1991, chairman of the Continuing Educational Committee of the AAN and founding director of AAN’s premier continuing medical education journal Continuum: Lifelong Learning in Neurology.

Prof Munsat was born in Portland, Maine, in 1930, to Leo and Ethel Munsat. When he was a child, the Munsat family moved to Rutland, Vermont and he was graduated from Rutland High School in 1948. He received his B.A. degree in chemistry at the University of Michigan and in 1957, his M.D. degree from the University of Vermont, and then completed an internship at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, followed by a neurology residency with Houston Merritt at the New York Neurological Institute, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. He completed his training with Augustus S. Rose at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). After serving in the Navy for 2 years, he returned to UCLA in 1963 as Assistant Professor of Neurology and Director of the Muscular Dystrophy Clinic where he worked with Carl Pearson. In 1970, he moved to the University of Southern California, first as Associate Professor and then, in 1973, as Professor of Neurology. In 1975, he took a 12-month sabbatical in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, with Professor Lord Walton.; In 1976, he became Chairman of Neurology at Tufts University and the New England Medical Center.

He was a worldwide leader in ALS research and as chairman of the WFN ALS Research group published important international diagnostic guidelines. He authored more than 200 scientific articles and books, including classic texts as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Guide for Patients and Families, Post-Polio Syndrome and Quantification of Neurological Deficits. He received many honors during his long career, including the A.B. Baker Award for Education of the AAM, the Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the WFN Research Group on Neuromuscular Diseases and the degree of Doctor of Medicine, Honoris Causa, by the University of Marseilles.

Professor Munsat, as the WFN chairman of the Education Committee, developed a number of successful educational programs around the world. It was a great privilege and honor for me to have met and worked with Prof Munsat. He inspired me as well several generations of residents and neurologists all around the world and he left an outstanding legacy to the international neurological community.

Professor Munsat is survived by his wife, Carla Munsat; his daughter, Amy Munsat, his son, Peter Munsat and six grandchildren

By: Prof. Marco T. Medina, Dean School of Medical Sciences, National Autonomous University of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
ILAE Chairman of the Commission on Latin American Affairs and WFN Regional Director for Latin America.