Dr. Lawrence Korngut | Family man and neuromuscular medicine champion

“When I was 12, I found a book about the brain in a used bookstore,” says Dr. Lawrence Korngut. “It was called ‘Bright Air, Brilliant Fire’ and it was about the impending neuro-scientific revolution. I didn’t understand all of it, but I thought it seemed very cool.”

Author

Genevieve Juillet, Cumming School of Medicine

“When I was 12, I found a book about the brain in a used bookstore,” says Dr. Lawrence Korngut. “It was called ‘Bright Air, Brilliant Fire’ and it was about the impending neuro-scientific revolution. I didn’t understand all of it, but I thought it seemed very cool.”

This chance encounter in the bookstore went on to spark Lawrence’s life passion. “I did try to keep an open mind to other medical specialties, but I just kept coming back to neurology,” says Lawrence. After completing medical school and his neurology residency at Western University, he turned his focus to neuromuscular medicine. “I wanted to work in an area that was “hot”, where new therapies would be developed over the course of my career and I could make a meaningful contribution. That’s exactly what has happened and it’s a very exciting time to work in neuromuscular medicine.”

A neuromuscular research and clinical fellowship at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) was the perfect match for Lawrence. “The environment at the CSM is really unique. The clinicians and researchers here are excellent and the working environment is very supportive and collaborative – not cutthroat, as it can be at other medical institutions. The people are what attracted me to Calgary and they make the CSM the optimal place to work.”

Eight years out from his fellowship, Lawrence is still here. He is now the Director of the Calgary ALS and Motor Neuron Disease Clinic and the Calgary Neuromuscular Program, splitting his time between his research team at the Foothills campus and his clinic at the South Health campus. “We fell in love with Calgary,” says Lawrence. “On both a professional and personal level, it is the best place I can imagine working.”

An interest in helping neuromuscular patients is a family affair for Lawrence. His daughters, aged seven and nine, are avid fundraisers for the ALS Society and Muscular Dystrophy Canada. “I love to get my kids involved with the work I do,” says Lawrence. “I’m very proud of them. It’s a great way to raise a family, to share a common goal and get involved in charity work.”

“Calgary is a great city to raise young children,” Lawrence says. “We like to bike and ski, and make sure to take advantage of all the natural resources here. And my daughters love the zoo!”

Tidbits from Lawrence:

Favourite place to bike: “The many biking trails around Calgary”

Favourite travel spot: “Italy, 100 per cent. My wife and daughters are over there right now. We don’t speak Italian, but we do speak food and wine.”

Advice for future med students: “Find what you love and do it. That’s the key.”

Where he would like to see the CSM in 50 years: “A real strength at the CSM is our supportive and collaborative community. I would love to see us continue to build on that. We are extremely successful, but in a way that promotes teamwork rather than competition. I want to see that blossom further.”