- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Ludo Van Bogaert

Born  1897-05-25
Died  1989-03-04

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Belgian neuropathologist, born May 25, 1897, Antwerp; died March 4, 1989, Antwerp.

Biography of Ludo Van Bogaert

Ludo van Bogaert was the son of a physician in Antwerp, and his brother was also a medical doctor. He received his schooling at the Notre-Dame College in his home city and in 1914, he left occupied Belgium for the University of Utrecht, where he commenced medical studies. At 18 he volunteered for the Belgian army, joining via England. He was twice wounded and sustained spinal injuries but recovered in time to accept a commission and serve with the occupation forces on the Rhine.

After the war, he studied at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, graduating with distinction in 1922. His spinal wound had prompted his interest in neurology and he spent a year in Paris working under Pierre Marie (1853-1940) at the Salpêtrière, and at the Hôpital de la Charité under Marcel Lebbe, gaining experience in neurology and neuropathology.

On his return to Antwerp, van Bogaert became assistant at the St. Elizabeth Hospital and later staff physician at the Stuivenberg Hospital. In the period from 1920 to 1939 he considerably extended his private practice.

In the decade following his return to Antwerp van Bogaert published numerous articles on neurological topics. In 1933 he accepted an appointment as director of the clinical services and pathological laboratory at the newly established Bunge Research Institute. When the war broke out, however, the highly productive research team was dispersed, and the heavy bombing in the area made it necessary for van Bogaert to move his laboratory and collection of specimens to the cellars of the Stuivenberg Hospital,

After the war the Bunge Institute was expanded and Van Bogaert attracted assistant researchers from all over the world. Among the subjects studied at the Bunge Institute were hereditary neurological diseases, in particular heredo-ataxias and metabolic diseases, with particular attention given to lipidoses. The Bunge Institute is now closed. The building now houses the Center of Medical Genetics, established in 1964.

During World War II Van Bogaert upheld scientific contacts with colleagues in France and Germany, although he had remained firm in his patriotic principles. It was during the German occupation of Belgium he met a former friend, the German neuropathologist Hugo Spatz (1888-1969), His relationships with Spatz, and another German neurologist, Julius Hallervorden (1882-1965), were the subject of controversy in the immediate post war years, but in general, van Bogaert emerged with his reputation intact. After all, Hugo Spatz helped him save the Bunge Institute.

    "Van Bogaert's personality defies sketches. He was the kind of person one meets only once in a lifetime. He was elemental like the sea, powerful and illusory. People and facts were taken and understood as they were. The intimate feelings of this master diplomat remained carefully hidden behind his open and kind manner. His activities were prodigious but under complete control. There was never any sense of inner or outer pressure. He never gave orders or proffered opinions. Everything and everyone fell into place, and the work was completed. As one would expect from a man whose scientific tool was the microscope, he was a visual person. Inconspicuous details of a patient's examination were grasped within minutes and sorted out against his well-furnished memory. Even the most humble, inarticulate patient was treated with compassion and provided with warm, reasonable reassurance.

    No ivory tower hermit, he was eminently sociable. His extraordinarily busy professional life did not preclude innumerable extracurricular activities. The range of his cultural and other interests was vast and varied, encompassing painting, literature and precious books, to cite but a few. He was a brilliant conversationalist, equally able to captivate the attention of colleagues, young assistants, or people of social renown and importance."
    Michel Philippart, M.D., in "Founders of Child Neurology".


  • L. Van Bogaert, J. Radermecker, J. Hozay, A. Lowenthal, editors:
    Encephalitides. Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1961.
  • P. Castan, Ludo Van Bogaert, Paul Valéry:
    Rencontres Neurologiques et Humanistes. 1990: 1-19.
  • Peter Beighton & Gretha Beighton:
    Ludo Van Bogaert ( 1897-1989). In: The Person Behind the Syndrome. The Parthenon Publishing Group, London, 1997. Pp. 170-171.
  • Armand Lowenthal:
    Ludo Van Bogaert ( 1897-1989). Journal of Medical Biography, 1998, 6: 200-2002.

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