University of Minnesota

Cornelis De Langen, MD

1887 — 1967

Cornelis De Langen was born and educated in Groningen, a northern province of the Netherlands. After receiving his degree in internal medicine at the University of Groningen in 1912, he worked as an assistant in the physiological laboratory of Hijmans van den Bergh.

In 1914 De Langen was hired by the Dutch government to combat the plague in the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, where he remained for the next 20 years teaching medicine, directing a clinic, and conducting research. De Langen’s experience with both European colonists and native Javanese patients led him to explore the role of diet in heart disease. He was struck by the lack of angina pectoris, thrombotic complications of surgery, gall bladder disease, and hypertension among the Javanese population compared to Europeans and attributed this disparity to the largely vegetarian diet of the local inhabitants. He had a profound influence on other Dutch investigators, particularly Isidore Snapper and J. Juda Groen, who carried on his work making cultural comparisons. It was through the latter, who published and lectured widely in English, that De Langen’s work influenced other pioneers in CVD epidemiology, especially Ancel Keys.

De Langen returned to the Netherlands in 1935 where he continued to teach at the University of Utrecht until retiring 22 years later. He remained active in medical research and published articles up until his death in 1967. His career was recognized in a major conference in Amsterdam in 1997, referenced in the articles by his descendants listed below. (HB)


Cornelis De Langen, “Clinical Arteriosclerosis in Java,” Mededeelingen van den Dienst der Volksgezondheid in Nederlandsch-Indie 24 (1935): 1-8.

Cornelis De Langen, “De Beteekenis van de Geographische Pathologie voor het Rassenprobleem in de Geneeskunde,” Geneeskundig Tijdschrift voor Nederlansch-Indie 73 (1933): 1026-1044.

Cornelis De Langen, “Cholesterine-stofwisseling en Rassenpathologie,” Geneeskundig Tijdschrift voor Nederlansch-Indie 56 (1916): 1-34.

Ernst G. De Langen and Jan E. De Langen, “C.D. de Langen – His life and work,” Acta Cardiologica 54 (1999): 123-128.

Ingrid de Langen, “ Langen and nutrition research,” Acta Cardiologica 54 (1999): 129-133.

Related Content