By Kate Penz, Communications Manager
Neurologists Ludwig “Lud” Gutmann, MD, and Laurie Gutmann, MD, share a passion for neuromuscular medicine—they also share DNA. A rare father-daughter neurology team, the Gutmanns’ first project together began when Laurie was a third year medical student at West Virginia University (WVU) over two decades ago.
“She told me about a patient with a neurological syndrome that had many features of combined degeneration of the spinal cord. The young woman had a gastrointestinal problem called intestinal lymphangiectasia. The neurological syndrome should have been due to vitamin B12 deficiency, but that was not the case. The patient turned out to have vitamin E deficiency due to the intestinal lymphangiectasia. We published that as the first case having the combination of this disorder and the neurological syndrome,” Lud explained. “Over the years, our joint interests in clinical neurophysiology and neuromuscular diseases have created a close professional bond. I would say we are good and close friends.” Since that first case, they have published 12 joint studies together.
Lud’s interest in neuromuscular clinical neurophysiology (CNP) began as he finished his neurology residency in the early 1960s when CNP was in its infancy.
“I knew so little about CNP and neuromuscular diseases that I decided to pursue it. At the time, there seemed only two places for a neurologist to train—with Ed Lambert at the Mayo Clinic and Fritz Buchthal in Copenhagen. I stayed in the United States and spent a year with Dr. Lambert, a time that turned out to be one of the high points of my career. CNP brought new insights into our understanding of neuromuscular diseases and defined diseases we didn’t know existed (e.g. Lambert Eaton syndrome). The Mayo experience initiated my commitment to neuromuscular diseases,” said Lud.
Laurie’s interest in neuromuscular medicine began while she was at The University of Virginia (UVA) working with Lawrence Phillips, III, MD. Interestingly, Dr. Phillips was mentored by Lud years prior while in medical school.
“I really enjoy procedures and there is a nice mix of procedures and the things I love about neurology in general – the mystery of putting history and exam together – in neuromuscular medicine/electrodiagnostics. I learned how to do muscle and nerve biopsies, and it was a nice continuum from beginning to end of problem-solving,” said Laurie.
While Lud acknowledges that he mentored Laurie as a student and junior faculty, their relationship has grown to one of colleagues on equal footing. Lud said, “I think we influence each other equally. When I did mentor her, it was an exciting and challenging experience since she was so bright and committed – still is.”
Laurie agreed, “Lud and I have worked well together over the years. I consider myself lucky to have been able to continue to be his colleague and friend over the last 20 plus years, first at WVU and now at the University of Iowa.
When I was a student, I was always getting asked if I was his daughter. Now that I have more gray hair, the question often is if he is my brother (or husband!). But the best was the colleague who asked if he was my son. To be honest, it was before she met him, but he enjoyed that one more than any of the other questions,” concluded Laurie.