May 23, 1932

(Toronto, Ontario)


February 23, 2022


MD, University of Toronto (1956)

Awards & Honours:

2006: Honorary Membership, European Surgical Association

2005: Honorary Membership, Canadian Association of General Surgeons

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Picture of Bernard Langer

Pioneered hepatobiliary/pancreatic (HPB) surgery

Dr. Bernard Langer

A surgical pioneer and visionary developer of the surgeon-scientist program

Upon completion of his medical degree, Dr. Bernard Langer completed postgraduate surgical training in Toronto, Houston and Boston. He joined the Toronto General Hospital as a consultant surgeon in 1963, and was appointed head of the division of general surgery in 1972.  During his 17-year tenure as division head, he established a recruitment methodology which promoted the development of subspecialty areas within general surgery with equal emphasis on clinical care, teaching and research.  In addition to his own specialties of HPB surgery, surgical oncology and ultimately transplantation, other areas such as colorectal, breast, and endocrine surgery were developed.  He helped to develop the largest liver transplant program in Canada and the largest living donor liver transplant program in North America.

Key Facts

Broke barriers as the first Jewish surgeon at the Toronto General Hospital

Helped to develop a major academic hepatobiliary and pancreatic program as well as liver transplant program at University health network

Established the surgeon scientist program to encourage residents to engage in formal periods of surgical research during training, thus advancing surgical science locally, provincially, nationally, and internationally.

Professional timeline

Impact on lives today

When Dr. Langer established the surgeon scientist program, it was considered a revolutionary addition to surgical training.  Now, surgeons across Canada may graduate with research fellowship training as well as surgical specialization in their chosen specialty.  These highly trained academic surgeons now form a strong foundation to advance surgical knowledge and ultimately improve patient outcomes.  In addition, Dr. Langer's expansion of HPB surgery and organ transplant programs continue to save lives all across Canada.

Picture of Bernard Langer


  • The University of Toronto established the Bernard and Ryna Langer Chair in General Surgery at the University of Toronto.

    Other honours include the University of Toronto Department of Surgery Langer Surgeon Scientist Award, the Bernard Langer Annual Lecture in Health Sciences at the University of Toronto and the Langer Lecture of the Canadian Association of General Surgeons’ annual meeting.

  • Bernard Langer - Cancer care champion

    Cancer, Improving health and patient outcomes, Cancer, Patient Care

    Through his leadership role in Cancer Care Ontario as a member of the Provincial Advisory Committee on Surgical Oncology, the Cancer Quality Council of Ontario and the Cancer Surgery Quality Committee, Dr. Langer championed standards for cancer care, including the Ontario standards for HPB surgery. This approach has translated across specialties and has served as a model for other provinces.

  • Helped to create the Canadian Patient Safety Institute

  • Dr. Langer was elected President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada for a 2-year term

  • Langer - American Surg Assoc logo

    Appointed as the First Vice-President of the American Surgical Association (ASA)

  • The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) established the Clinician Investigator Program in all medical and surgical specialties, using Dr. Langer’s Surgeon Scientist Program at University of Toronto as a template

    Leadership in Organizational Development, Health and Medical Education & Training

  • Appointed President of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT)

  • During his position as Departmental Chair, his own clinical interest in HPB and transplant surgery led to the development of a major post-training fellowship program in HPB and liver transplant surgery

    Health and Medical Education & Training

    This became an important postgraduate opportunity, and since its inception, has trained approximately 100 surgeons from Canada, the US and abroad, many of whom are leaders in their home countries. The advanced experiences were accredited by America’s Hepato-Pancreatico-Biliary Association and the Fellowship Council, and by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.

  • Dr. Langer served as Interim Director of the UHN Multiorgan Transplant Program after its launch in 1989

  • Dr. Langer appointed President of the Canadian Association of General Surgeons (CAGS)

  • As Department Chair at University of Toronto, he established education as one of the streams for academic promotion.

    Today's department is heavily populated with surgeons who have formal training in medical education, and who are excellent teachers, also contributing through scholarship.

  • Dr. Langer and his team performed the first liver transplant in Toronto


  • Dr. Langer, along with important academic members of his department, created the "Surgeon Scientist Program"

    Building our health organizations and systems, Health and Medical Education & Training

    Resident surgeons were trained in surgical investigation and laboratory practice in addition to their clinical experiences. Since its inception, the program has produced scores of graduates, the majority pursuing careers in academic practice.

  • The gradual adoption of divisional practice plans, which promoted income sharing amongst surgeons, improved collaboration in patient care

    Initiated across all academic surgical divisions at the University of Toronto, the plans also enhanced funding for those interested in pursuing academic careers.

  • Langer archive photo

    Dr. Langer was appointed the R.S. McLaughlin Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at University of Toronto, an academic position overseeing academic activities in 10 hospitals across the city

  • Dr. Langer was appointed Head of the division of general surgery at Toronto General Hospital

    He served in that role for 17 years.

  • Dr. Langer was appointed as a consultant general surgeon at Toronto General Hospital after completing his postgraduate training


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