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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Memoriam: Prominent Neurologist and Former AAN President Theodore “Ted” Leon Munsat

On Friday, Nov. 22, distinguished neurologist and former AAN President Theodore “Ted” Leon Munsat, MD, died in his home in Waltham, MA. Dr. Munsat was 83 years old, and an emeritus professor of neurology at Tufts University School of Medicine at the time.

In addition to serving as president of the AAN (1989-91), Dr. Munsat helped launch the AAN’s continuing education publication, CONTINUUM. He also held the role of chairman of the World Federation of Neurology (WFN) ALS Research Group, and participated in WFN’s Research and Education Committees. He worked with the WFN in many developing countries to improve neurology practice and education.

      As an undergraduate student, Dr. Munsat majored in chemistry at the University of Michigan. In 1957, he received his medical degree from the University of Vermont, and then completed an internship at Mt. Sinai Hospital in NY, followed by a neurology residency at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Subsequently, Dr. Munsat served in the navy for two years, and in 1963, he accepted a position at UCLA Medical Center, where he became one of the pioneers in developing histochemistry of skeletal muscle. In 1970, Dr. Munsat served as professor of neurology and director of the University of Southern California Muscle Disorders clinic.

He took a year-long sabbatical in 1975 to work with Professor John Walton in the UK, and returned to the US to accept his new role as chairman of the neurology department at Tufts-New England Medical Center, a position he held until 1982 when he stepped down to focus on research in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other academic endeavors.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Munsat published more than 200 scientific articles and books on topics ranging from ALS to post-polio syndrome to quantification of neurological deficits. He was the recipient of the A.B. Baker Award for Education from the AAN, the Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the WFN Research Group on Neuromuscular Diseases. 

The neurologist was also a passionate outdoorsman who enjoyed sailing, skiing, and camping. He also made his own maple syrup and apple cider, raised sheep, built furniture, and enjoyed tending to his vegetable garden.

Dr. Munsat is survived by his wife, Carla; his daughter, Amy, and husband Harry Flamm; his son, Peter, and wife Lisa; his brother, Stanley; his sister, Michelle, and husband Rick Foard; six grandchildren, Lucy, Lila, Jesse, Alex, Hallie and Jake; and many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the World Federation of Neurology (e-mail or the Vermont Land Trust (

     Neurology Today's past coverage of Dr. Munsat and his work is available here: Look for the extended article remembering Dr. Munsat's achievements in an upcoming issue of Neurology Today.