Thomas W. Langfitt
1987, Baltimore, MD
Thomas William Langfitt was born on April 20, 1927, in Clarksburg, West Virginia, the son of Dr. Frank V. Langfltt and Veda Davis Langfitt. Dr. Frank Langfitt was a general surgeon and an outstanding leader in his community. He played a major role in the creation of the West Virginia University Medical Center in Morgantown and his career and ideals proved to be of great influence on his son's life. Both parents bestowed the values of honesty and integrity upon their son at an early age, attributes for which he is well known and respected.
Dr. Thomas Langfitt graduated from Mercerberg Academy in 1945 and from Princeton University in 1949. He attended The Johns Hopkins Medical School, graduating in 1953. Dr. Langfitt spent many long hours in the library absorbing the fundamentals of medical knowledge and building the intellectual foundation for his investigative life. In addition he got to know the librarian well--Carolyn Louise Payne. They were married in his senior year of medical school. She is the mother of their four sons and continues to be his partner in many civic activities.
Dr. Langfitt completed a tour of duty in the United States Army and returned to The Johns Hopkins for his residency in neurological surgery under Dr. A. Earl Walker. He completed his training in 1961 and moved to Philadelphia, accepting the position of head of the Section of Neurological Surgery at the Pennsylvania Hospital with an academic appointment at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. Here during the next 7 years he conducted basic research on intracranial pressure, cerebral circulation, and cerebral metabolism.
Continuing his research throughout his long career in neurosurgery, Dr. Langfitt and his colleagues have made major contributions to our understanding of the dynamics and relationships of intracranial pressure, cerebral circulation, and metabolism.
In 1968 he became professor and chairman of the Division of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, a position he held until 1987. He has served as vice president for health affairs at the University and was for a time acting vice president for Finance. Nationally, he has served on numerous advisory councils and committees for the National Institutes of Health. He has been chairman of the Board of the Association of Academic Health Centers and has served as chairman of the Organizing Committee for the International Symposia on Increased Intracranial Pressure and Cerebral Blood Flow. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
He has served our specialty on the American Board of Neurological Surgery and has been its chairman. He has been on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and has been its vice president. He has been chairman of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Neurosurgery, president of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery, and in 1987 was president of the Society of.Neurological Surgeons. He has served on the Board of Trustees of Princeton University.
Dr. Langfitt has an impressive bibliography covering many areas of research, both basic and clinical. He has received recognition and honors throughout the world for his scholarly research, his inspired teaching, and his articulate and thoughtful leadership. Literature and the arts are avocations for him and Carolyn and personal physical fitness is high on his list of priorities. He is truly a man for all seasons.
For many years Dr. Langfitt has served on the Board of Directors of the Glenmede Trust Company, the administrators of the Pew Charitable Trust. This Trust is the second largest in the United States and provides significant financial support for biomedical research and projects beneficial to society in general. In February 1987, Dr. Langfitt retired as chairman of the Division of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania to assume the duties of his new post--president and chief executive officer of the Glenmede Trust Company and Pew Charitable Trust, one more remarkable achievement for this remarkable man.
I am indebted to Dr. Frederick Murtagh, a long-time colleague and friend of Dr. Langfitt's, who wrote his biography in Surgical Neurology in 1984. The Congress of Neurological Surgeons was proud to have Dr. Thomas Langfitt as honored guest at its annual meeting in Baltimore in 1987.