26 September 2016

In memoriam Uwe Heinemann

M&B founding member has passed away.

On 8 September 2016, Uwe Heinemann, one of the founding members of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, passed away.

Uwe Heinemann had studied medicine at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich from 1964 to 1970, did his PhD at the University of Oxford (1968 to 1971), and then a Postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich (1971 to 1981). After he received a Heisenberg fellowship from the German Research Council (DFG) from 1981 to 1986, Uwe Heinemann became Professor of Physiology and Pathophysiology at Cologne University (1986 to 1993). From 1993 to 2012 he was Chair of the Institute for Neurophysiology at the Charité and since 2012 a Senior Professor at the Neuroscience Research Center.

Uwe Heinemann had joined the Charité during the phase of post-unification reforms and restructuring and he clearly was one of the key people of the past 25 years in establishing the Berlin Neuroscience community. He co-founded the first DFG-funded neuroscientific collaborat ive research centre at Charité, he was the spokesperson of two DFG-funded research training groups, and he founded and headed the Neuroscience Research Center (1999 to 2005). He also was deeply involved in establishing two important Berlin projects within the German Excellence Initiative: The Berlin School of Mind and Brain and NeuroCure. And these activities were just a few out of many other projects which benefitted greatly from his commitment.

The focus of Uwe Heinemann’s research was on Epileptology, a field in which he was an internationally leading figure. Accordingly he received numerous prizes: the Michael Prize, the Alfred Hauptmann Prize, and the European Epilepsy Award.

Uwe Heinemann was a charismatic speaker, teacher, and mentor. He trained generations of medical students in Cologne and at the Charité and he is very well remembered as a supervisor for numerous doctoral theses. He not only supervised his predocs and postdocs scientifically during their time in his lab, but he also cared with relentless energy for their further careers. Numerous of his students and postdocs have moved on to professorships and distinguished careers, and there is a large community of scientists world-wide who perceive themselves as Uwe’s “students” or his “mentees”.

Right from the beginning, when the Berlin School of Mind and Brain was being planned, Uwe Heinemann was part of our group as a strategic thinker who was instrumental in defining topics and structure of the school. For many years - until his untimely death - he served as the school’s ombudsman. He taught numerous classes in neurophysiology and he was a mentor not only for many students but also for many of us, the faculty members.

We all remember his enthusiasm and dedication to research and teaching, we remember his deep commitment to foster the success of his students, co-workers, and colleagues, we are thankful for his boundless generosity. We remember him as our friend.

Thank you, Uwe, we will never forget you.

Arno Villringer
(on behalf of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain)