Obituary. In memory of Professor Thomas Büchner
Rector, First State Pavlov Medical University of St. Petersburg
Professor Boris V. Afanasyev,
Director, Raisa Gorbacheva Memorial Research Institute for Pediatric Oncology, Hematology and Transplantation, First State Pavlov Medical University of St. Petersburg, Russia
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Rüdiger Hehlmann,
Med. Fakultät Mannheim, Universität Heidelberg, Deutschland
Accepted 29 September 2016
Professor Thomas Büchner, Professor Emeritus at the University of Münster, passed away on Friday, August 5, 2016. For the last decades, he was considered a renowned clinician, worldwide expert in leukemia, and a real symbol of German academic elite.
Thomas Büchner was born in Berlin on September 22, 1934. He graduated from the Albert-Ludwig University in Freiburg i.B. (1955). Following residences in Vienna, Innsbruck and Munich, he has took a Doctor’s degree in Freiburg (1961) with a Thesis: ‘Autoradiographic Studies of Cell Kinetics in Mice’. Then, over the next decades, his academic and clinical career was closely connected with Münster University Clinic. As an assistant, he worked with DNA synthesis and electron microscopy of human chromosomes, and flow cytometric techniques. In 1971, his publication “Inflammatory cells in Blood and Tissues” was awarded with the Theodor-Frerich Price from The German Society for Internal Medicine, followed by a professorship in Internal Medicine and Haematology at the Wilhelms-University in Münster. Since 1976, he managed a Laboratory of Special Haematology at the Medical Clinic of Münster University.
Clinical studies by Professor Büchner focused on acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In 1978, he became Chairman of the AML Cooperative Group. The well-known TAD protocol for leukemia treatment was established on the basis of these cooperative studies. In extension of his leukemia program, Prof. Büchner, together with his Münster colleague Günther Schellong (1926-2015), started the Acute Leukemias Symposium which is an important scientific and educational event since 1986. Within a program of leukemia studies, a Bone Marrow Transplantation Center was arranged at Münster University in the 90’s, along with the establishment of a Leukemia Studies Department. Professor Büchner held his academic positions until 1999 when was elected Emeritus Professor at Münster University. In 1999 Thomas became cofounder of the German Competence Network on Acute and Chronic Leukemias and started the German AML-Intergroup study that compared 5 randomized German AML studies by up-front randomization into a common standard arm. At the EU level, Prof. Büchner played a decisive role in establishing the European LeukemiaNet, a Europe-wide network promoting cure of leukemia by cooperative research.
During the last 15 years, Prof. Büchner was involved in research and treatment of acute myeloid leukemia in older patients. Several programs in clinical research were performed since 2005, including Biology and Treatment Strategy of AML in Its Subgroups: Multicenter Randomized Trial by the German Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cooperative Group (AMLCG).
Professor Büchner was a member of leading hematology and oncology associations in the field, including the American Society of Hematology, the American Association for Cancer Research and the German Society for Haematology and Medical Oncology (DGHO, Honorary Member since 2008).
Along with his professional merits, Prof. Büchner was well known for treating Raisa Maximovna Gorbachova (1932– 1999). In 2007 in memoriam of his wife Michail Gorbachov in cooperation with Pavlov University funded the construction of the Raisa Gorbacheva memorial Institute for Hematology and Transplantation, which started to work with support of leading German haematologists, including Prof. Büchner.
Prof. Büchner supported cooperation with Russian clinicians and scientists in the field of leukemia treatment from the very beginning of these contacts in the late 80’s. These long-lasting professional and friendly relationships have given the opportunity to know Thomas Büchner as the great person, tutor, physician and scientist he was. Not only his professional excellence inspired admiration, but also his sense of tact and dignity coupled with a dry humor formed the impression of an extraordinary person.
Prof. Büchner almost annually held special lectures at the Raisa Gorbacheva Memorial Symposium on Hematopoietic Stem cell Transplantation in St. Petersburg and other places. This year he was also expected at the 10th R. Gorbacheva Symposium in 2016. We shall always remember his life, clinical studies and good deeds for the patients. The fundamental academic school in Hematology and Oncology founded by Professor Büchner, will serve as heritage of his life. Apart from his scientific merits Thomas was a good hearted, sincere, always reliable and helpful colleague.
Thomas Büchner will always remain in our hearts.