Edward R. Laws, Jr.
2000, San Antonio, TX
Edward R. Laws was born in New York City on April 29, 1938, the son of a physician and a teacher/editor. He was educated in the New York City Public School system, attending the Bronx High School of Science. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Princeton University with honors in Economics and Sociology in the Special Program in American Civilization. At Princeton he was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Scholarship and combined interests in Sociology and Religion in writing his Senior Thesis.
He attended the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. During a summer research position at the end of his first year, he became associated with Dr. A. Earl Walker and the Department of Neurosurgery at Hopkins. Tom Langfitt was the Chief Resident at that time, and the Department was an exciting environment. He began his research work on the metabolism and cytochemistry of brain tumors at that time working with Drs. George Udvarhelyi and John O’Connor and continued these research efforts throughout his Medical School career. At Hopkins, he was a National Foundation Health Scholar and a Johns Hopkins Fund Scholar and he also was awarded the Henry Strong Dennison Fellowship in Research. He stayed on at Johns Hopkins for an Internship in Surgery under Dr. Alfred Blalock, and then spent two years in the U.S. Public Health Service working at the Communicable Desire Center in Atlanta, Georgia, doing research focused on Pesticide Toxicology.
Dr. Laws returned to Johns Hopkins in 1966 to resume his training in Neurosurgery under Dr. Walker, and completed his residency in 1971. He was then asked to join the faculty at Johns Hopkins with a primary appointment in Pediatric Neurosurgery and the rank of Assistant Professor.
Dr. Colin MacCarty at the Mayo Clinic was a close friend both of Dr. Walker and Dr. Frank Otenasek, another one of the faculty members at Johns Hopkins. He invited Dr. Laws to consider moving to the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, which he did in September 1972. At Mayo, he spent 15 highly productive years, developing major interests and experience in pituitary surgery and epilepsy surgery, along with a continuing laboratory interest in the metabolism and pathophysiology of primary brain tumors. With Colin MacCarty and Ross Miller as mentors and Thor Sundt as friend and colleague, this experience was extraordinarily valuable. The wealth of clinical and research material at the Mayo Clinic made it possible to develop significant expertise in a relatively short period of time and to publish the results of these endeavors.
Dr. Laws’ career with the Congress of Neurological Surgeons began with an appointment to the Executive Committee in 1973 and he rapidly became Secretary of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and served under David Kelly and Albert Rhoton during their respective Presidencies. This experience began a long career of service to National Neurosurgical Organizations.
In 1987, Dr. Laws was appointed Editor of Neurosurgery, succeeding Robert Wilkins and Clark Watts. His wife, Margaret Anderson Laws, became the Managing Editor and for five years they had an extraordinary experience in the editing and the developing of Neurosurgery as a first rate international medical journal.
Later in 1987, Dr. Laws was offered the Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., succeeding Dr. Hugo Rizzoli. The next five years were spent in Washington where the environment and the opportunities were somewhat different from those in Rochester, Minnesota.
In 1992, the opportunity arose for Dr. Laws to focus his work on pituitary tumors by joining what is certainly the most outstanding Pituitary/Endocrine Group in the country if not the World, at the University of Virginia. A coordinated Neuroendocrine Center was rapidly developed. Dr. John A. Jane, Sr., has made it possible for this work to continue to develop, and in addition to dealing with pituitary lesions, Dr. Laws also has current responsibility for epilepsy surgery, movement disorder surgery, peripheral nerve surgery and a variety of other types of brain tumors. During his surgical career he has operated upon more than 5,000 brain tumors of which some 3400 have been pituitary lesions. He has thoroughly enjoyed his collaborative work with endocrinologists, neuroradiologists, otorhinolaryngologists, neuro-ophthalmologists and others. He currently is the W. Gayle Crutchfield Professor of Neurosurgery and Professor of Medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Dr. Laws has served as President of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, President of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Editor of Neurosurgery, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for International Education in Surgery, Secretary and First Vice President of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies, Director of the American Board of Neurological Surgery and President of the Pituitary Society. He has been the author of eight books and more than 400 scientific papers and book chapters.
Currently, he is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons, where he represents neurosurgery on the Board of Regents, and he is Vice Chair of the Residency Review Committee for Neurosurgery. He remains actively involved in brain tumor and neuroendocrine research.
Dr. Laws and his wife Margaret (Peggy) continue to work together in many areas, including editing and publishing. They have four daughters and three grandchildren.