On the death of Professor Eberhard Schmidt
On 23rd July, 2005 Professsor Eberhard Schmidt died at the age of 77.
Eberhard Schmidt, professor at the Heinrich Heine University in Duesseldorf, was born on 7th January 1928 in Berlin. In his youth Professor Schmidt lived under extremely dangerous times in Nazi Germany, he had to live under an assumed name with friends in the Black Forest where he attended school. He studied medicine in Goettingen, Heidelberg, Geneva and Freiburg/Breisgau.
In 1953 in Freiburg he qualified as a doctor with his thesis on “Serum Cholesterol in Children with special consideration of Nutrition”. His clinical training began in America, where he worked with Professor Paul Gyoergi at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, and did research on the “Resistance Factors of Breast Milk” from 1954 – 56. After continuing his medical training in the University Children’s Hospital in Cologne under Professor Bennholdt-Thomsen where he achieved his habilitation in paediatrics in 1966 with a paper on the “Antibodies in Breast Milk and Cow Milk”, he moved on to the University Children’s Hospital in Duesseldorf in 19668. He was nominated as Scientific Advisor and Professor in 1971, and in 1974 he was called to the Chair of General Paediatrics with emphasis on Neonatology and Nutrition.
One priority of Professor Schmidt’s scientific work is the area of infant nutrition, where he researched into the unspecific antibody functions of breast milk and its components amino sugars, neuraminacid containing glycoproteins and fatty acids. Furthermore, since 1971 he was responsible for research into the then very high infant death rate, and was very committed to the systematic gathering of data in connection with perinatal studies, the results of which were fundamental in reducing infant death rate. Then, and also in the setting up of the Committe of Enquiry into Rare Paediatric Diseases in Germany (ESPED), he was a pioneer in paediatric epidemiology research in Germany.
For more than two decades, since 1971, Professor Schmidt was the President of the Commission for Nutrition in Children and Adolescents. He was also very involved as a member of the German Delegation in the Codex Alimentarius of the World Health Organisation, and FAO, and also as a member of the Committee on Nutrition of ESPGHAN (European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition) in matters of nutrition in infants and children. From 1994 to 1996 he was President of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin.
Prof. Schmidt was especially recognised for his intensive support of international paediatric cooperation and in the support of paediatricians in Eastern Europe, primarily through his engagement as Secretary General and as President of UNEPSA (Union of National European Paediatric Societies and Associations). UNEPSA owes much to his engagement and it is to his credit that UNEPSA is the organisation it is today. Professor Schmidt was not only an outstanding paediatrician and highly gifted teacher, but also a gifted man of wide-ranging interests who was well read and musically talented.
His last great wish was to travel to Krakow, from where he did not return alive. His UNEPSA colleagues and everyone who knew him will remember him his for his warm-heartedness and charming personality.
Jochen H.H. Ehrich, Jan Janda and Armido Rubino
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