Veterinary community mourns the loss of Dr Alexander de Lahunta
Legendary veterinary neurologist passed away peacefully at his home last week surrounded by family at the age of 88.
Alexander de Lahunta, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Neurology), also known as "Dr D," accredited to being the pioneer of veterinary neurology, passed away peacefully this month at the age of 88 alongside his family.
Born and raised in Concord, New Hampshire, de Lahunta graduated from the New York State College of Veterinary medicine in 1958. He went on to work as a practicing veterinarian for a mixed animal clinic in Concord for 2 years until he returned to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in 1960 where he earned his PhD.1
“Like thousands of other veterinary professionals around the world, I mourn the recent passing of Dr Alexander de Lahunta. Dr D was and remains legendary, an iconic figure who positively and permanently impacted veterinary medicine over a career that spanned nearly half a century,” shared Curtis W. Dewey DVM, MS, CTCVMP, CCRP, DACVS, DACVIM (Neurology), former student of de Lahunta,President of Elemental Pet Vets, PLLC, and professor at Chi University, to dvm360® staff.
“His contributions to veterinary anatomy, embryology, neuroanatomy, and neuropathology are staggering in their scope and depth,” continued Dewey.
de Lahunta would go on to lead a highly rewarding career, helping establish veterinary neurology at Cornell University. He was also one of the original neurologists to create the neurology specialty for the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine as well as founding a program in clinical neurology.
Throughout his life, de Lahunta received countless awards including being the inaugural recipient of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Lifetime Specialty Award for the Specialty of Neurology.2 He also published over 250 scientific articles as well as the influential textbook, Veterinary Neuroanatomy and Clinical Neurology.3
Out of all his accomplishments, de Lahunta believed his greatest achievement was teaching his veterinary students.
“He was also the best teacher I have ever had the pleasure to learn from, and I have learned from the best in our profession. It is difficult to fathom that one person accomplished so much excellence in one lifetime,” expressed Dewey.
“Equally unimaginable is the prospect of any one person having the capacity to carry Dr de Lahunta’s legacy forward. Fortunately, he inspired so many veterinarians to share his passion for discovery and teaching that his legacy will continue through those whose lives he touched,” he continued.
de Lahunta was a man of many hats that had a fierce passion for his family. Not only did he spearhead the field of veterinary neurology, but he also fostered lasting connections up until his last days with his students and faculty. He is known for believing he “just happened to be at the right place at the right time.” His legacy will live on through his life’s work.
- Faculty Legends: Alexander de Lahunta. Cornell.edu. Accessed August 24, 2021. https://ezramagazine.cornell.edu/FALL12/Faculty3.html
- Dr. Alexander Delahunta. Seacoastonline.com. Accessed August 24, 2021. https://www.seacoastonline.com/obituaries/p0137540
- The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Announces The Inaugural Recipients of the Lifetime Specialty Achievement Awards For the Specialties Cardiology and Neurology. Accessed August 24, 2021. https://www.acvim.org/docs/default-source/news-publications-documents/press-releases/2021/2021-acvim-lifetime-specialty-achievement-award-announcement---ettinger-de-lahunta.pdf?sfvrsn=21d52e1e_7