Lisa Welander

Lisa Welander (1909 - 2001)

Lisa Welander (1909 – 2001) was a Swedish neurologist.

Sweden’s first professor of neurology

In 1951 Welander described the inheritance, clinical manifestations, course, pathology, and electrodiagnostic studies of a disorder she termed Myopathia Distalis Tarda Hereditaria, now more commonly called Welander distal myopathy

Welander and Erik Klas Henrik Kugelberg (1913-1983) defined Hereditary motor neuropathy type 3 (Wohlfart-) Kugelberg-Welander syndrome: a slowly progressive degenerative disease affecting spinal more than bulbar motor nuclei with usual onset between the ages of 5 and 15 years

  • Born 9 August 1909 in Södermanland, Sweden
  • 1928 – Karolinska Institute, Stockholm
  • 1951 – MD thesis: ‘Myopathia distalis tarda hereditaria: 249 examined cases in 72 pedigrees’
  • 1952 – Lecturer in Neurology, Karolinska Institute
  • 1953 – Lecturer in Neurology, Gothenburg
  • 1964 – Professor of Neurology at Umeå University; head of the Department of Neurology at Umeå University Hospital. Continued in these roles until retirement in 1975
  • Died 9 December 2001

Medical Eponyms

Welander distal myopathy (1951) [Gowers-Welander syndrome; Gowers syndrome]

Welander investigated a group of patients from an area in Gästrikland in the 1940’s. The patients suffered from reduced muscle function in hands and feet. Welander described the disease and its mode of inheritance in her doctoral dissertation ‘Myopathia Distalis Tarda Hereditaria’ in 1951. The disorder had a late onset and the muscle histopathology was of myopathic type. The typical distribution of muscle wasting and weakness was distal but Lisa Welander also described atypical cases with proximal muscle weakness and in some cases a scapular raising phenomenon

Wohlfart-Kugelberg-Welander syndrome (1956) [Kugelberg–Welander disease]

Hereditary juvenile spinal muscular atrophy, characterised by slowly progressive muscular weakness, due to degeneration of anterior horn cells. Onset is between the ages of 2 and 17 years. Manifesting progressive symmetrical, mainly proximal weakness with fasciculations, ophthalmoplegia and eventually kyphoscoliosis, cardiomyopathy, and contractures, but with survival into middle age or later, and without sensory signs. Associated gene maps to chromosome 5 (5q11.2)

Kugelberg and Welander described a hereditary juvenile spinal muscular atrophy distinguished from Werdnig-Hoffman disease. They described 12 cases with onset of weakness from ages 2–17. Pedigrees showed a recessive heredity, the clinical findings were muscle atrophy predominantly in the thighs and flexors of the forearms and muscle biopsies showed neurogenic abnormalities. Original reports in 1949, 1952 and 1955

Major Publications



Eponymous terms

eponymictionary CTA


the person behind the name

Studied at University of Birmingham MBChB, and King's College London BSc (Psychology). British doctor working in Emergency Medicine, Perth. Special interests include elderly care, neurology and emergency medicine.

Emergency physician MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM with a passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and informatics. Asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | vocortex |

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