UCSD's Dr. Lawrence Hansen has a soft spot in his heart for animal rights

Lawrence Hansen
Lawrence Hansen

A native son of the American heartland, Lawrence Hansen was born, raised and educated in and around Chicago. After medical school and residencies in Psychiatry and Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at Loyola University, he went south to Atlanta for a three-year fellowship in Neuropathology.

Like many loosely attached Americans, he said he then drifted west, until stopped by the Pacific Ocean, taking up residence in San Diego in 1988.

In the intervening 23 years, “I have been fortunate enough to acquire a wife, Susan Lamson. Susan is a San Diego native, a graduate of La Jolla High School and Berkley, a former model, and an attorney. (Not a bad catch for a hick from the Midwest!)”

The couple has a family of four dogs and a cat, and Hansen has a job as professor in the departments of Neurosciences and Pathology at the UCSD Medical School.

What brought you to La Jolla?

A 1980 Dodge Omni Miser, and the fact that I ran out of residencies and fellowships and needed to get a real job.

What makes this area special to you?

It would sound better if I could claim that it was the rich collaborative scientific environment that allows me to pursue my research, but really, the beaches are great, the weather is fantastic, and my wife who is from here refuses to indulge my fantasy of returning to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

I would immediately convert the so-called “Children’s Pool” into a seal wildlife refuge for the protection of the seals, and the enjoyment of all who come to see them.

Who or what inspires you?

People who sacrifice their own time and energy for the benefit of animals, especially the local volunteers at the animal shelters, animal adoption events, and spay and neuter clinics.  Such selflessness is almost sufficiently inspirational to get me to do it myself, but not quite.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

I would invite Abraham Lincoln, and give the other seven the wrong address so that I could have time alone with Abe to get to personally know the greatest human America has ever produced.

Tell us about what you are reading.

I am re-reading, for the umpteenth time, “The Fabric of the Cosmos,” by Brian Green.  It’s one of those “physics for idiots” books that try to explain to the mathematically illiterate how almost everything our common sense tells us about the world is wrong.

What is your most-prized possession?

The enlightened Zen master is too wise to prize possessions.

What do you do for fun?

My English bulldog, Jimmy, is the Mayor of Dog Beach, so we go there every week and hold office hours.

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

Along with hundreds of other physicians, I help to end dog killing teaching exercises as part of the required curriculum in the first year Physiology and Pharmacology courses at UCSD’s School of Medicine. They still have an elective dog-killing lab in Pharmacology, but far fewer dogs are killed now than formerly. We have helped convert the wholesale slaughter of the innocents into a boutique brutality still inflicted to an unfortunate few here at UCSD.

What is your philosophy of life?

Except with respect to cruelty to animals, about which I am grim and humorless, I agree with Oscar Wilde who said, “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”



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