We here at the BoFN love alliteration and names so delicious we can sink our teeth into them. We also know that schoolyard kids can be cruel, and that a funny name can cause a person to develop a special set of skills at an early age. Which is why we have the Nominative Determinism Theory of funny names. “. . . people with awesome names end up accomplishing awesome things!”
So let’s dive into today’s subject, fabulously named Louis Lasagna, known as Lou to his friends. You may not be familiar with Dr. Lasagna, but he is responsible for a number of advances in the way we look at medicine today.
Lasagna was born in Queens, New York, in 1923 and raised in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He was destined for great things. His resume reads like a who’s who of prestigious universities. Drum roll please . . .
He graduated from Rutgers University in 1943 then moved onto Columbia University for his medical degree. His next move involved a clinical research fellowship at Harvard Medical School researching anesthesia. By 1954, he joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins University and created the first ever clinical pharmacology department.
It was his testimony in 1962 which lead to the biggest single advancement of medical therapy of all time, specifying the criteria to prove a drug’s effectiveness and safety which was written into law. It was the first law of its kind and several other countries followed suit soon after.
But wait there’s more. He taught both pharmacology and medicine at Johns Hopkins until 1970 when he took a position at the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine and Dentistry. While there he founded the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. In 1984 the center was moved to Tufts University and Dr. Lasagna with it. It was at Tufts he became the dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. No clue if the school was named after a family member of our esteemed fellow blogger, Mark Sackler. Mark any input on that?
Lasagna had a wonderful sense of humor. While living in Rochester he wrote, directed and starred in the “Mighty Lasagna Players” an annual theater production put on by the University of Rochester, Department of Pharmacology Medical and Toxicology faculty and students.
But his career didn’t stop there, he played a large role in creating controlled clinical trials and the placebo effect. His work was key to the improvement of controlled clinical trials for drug effectiveness and he helped improve the regulations on drugs with regard to their effectiveness and safety. He even headed several Federal commissions on drug approval.
Throughout his fifty-year career, he lectured extensively on a variety of topics he wrote about using his simple eloquence, his humanity, and his sense of humor.
Dr. Lasagna passed in August 6, 2003 from lymphoma.
The next time you have lasagna for dinner, toast the man who gave so much to our more holistic and compassionate approach to medicine today.
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