In memoriam: Dr. Glenn Langer, cardiovascular scholar, mentor, humanitarian

Dr. Glenn Langer
Dr. Glenn Langer

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Phil Hampton
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Dr. Glenn Langer, a prolific cardiovascular researcher and long-time faculty member and administrator at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA who went on to establish a college-readiness program for underprivileged youth, has died. He was 91.

Langer, a leading scholar in his field, published more than 200 scientific articles and co-wrote several books explaining the mechanisms by which the heart’s electrical activity regulates its contraction under normal and diseased conditions.

"He was an inspirational mentor and teacher whose self-described mantra was ‘I get paid for my hobby,'" said Dr. James Weiss, chief of the division of cardiology, who arrived at UCLA in 1978 as a cardiology fellow. "Many of his trainees went on to become leaders in academic medicine and cardiovascular science."

Among them were Kenneth Shine, who served as UCLA's medical school dean from 1986 to 1992 and later became president of the National Academy of Medicine.

Langer died June 19 in San Jose, California, Weiss said.

Langer came to the medical school in 1960 to join the recently established American Heart Association Cardiovascular Research Laboratories. Prior to his retirement in 1997, he was a distinguished professor of medicine and physiology, the inaugural holder of the Castera Endowed Chair in Cardiology, director of the cardiovascular research laboratories, vice chair of the department of physiology and associate dean for research.

After retiring, Langer committed himself to supporting economically and culturally disadvantaged youth, dipping into his pension to do so, according to a 1999 Los Angeles Times story.

His motivation, according to Weiss, was the generosity of philanthropists who provided scholarships supporting Langer's undergraduate studies at Colgate University and medical school at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, without which his own education would not have been possible.

The mission of the Partnership Scholars Program is to "provide six years of educational and cultural experiences to academically motivated but economically disadvantaged students, starting in the 7th grade, to promote college access and a lifetime of success." It now operates in seven California school districts. More than 700 students have received support, and more than more than 500 have graduated from universities and colleges across the country, according to the program's website.

"He was a prince among men," said Weiss, the Kawata Professor of Medicine and Physiology and director of the cardiovascular research laboratories previously helmed by Langer.

Langer is survived by his wife Renate Langer, his daughter Andrea Wakeman, four grandchildren and three step-grandchildren. Services are private.

The family suggests memorial contributions to the Partnership Scholars Program, P.O. Box 156, El Segundo, California, 90245.