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MedUni Vienna mourns the loss of Klaus Turnheim

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(Vienna, 28 July 2017) Prominent pharmacologist Klaus Turnheim died on 25 July after a long and serious illness. After completing his medical studies, he started his career in 1968 as a junior doctor in the Department of Medicine I of the University of Vienna and moved to the Pharmacological Institute in 1969.

Herr Turnheim therefore belongs to the cohort of pharmacologists dating from the legendary era of Franz Theodor Brücke. In 1970, Otto Kraupp, a long-serving colleague of Brücke, was appointed by the newly founded Ruhr University in Bochum and Klaus Turnheim officially transferred with him, although, in fact, he continued to work at the Institute in Vienna, because the buildings were not ready in Bochum.  When Otto Kraupp was then recalled to Vienna one year later, this meant that Klaus Turnheim was to remain in Vienna on a long-term basis. This period was followed by research placements (1977/78 and 1988) with Stanley G. Schultz (University of Pittsburgh, PA, and University of Houston, TX) and numerous shorter foreign placements, which took Klaus Turnheim to places ranging from Nigeria to Japan, thus attesting to his great curiosity and desire to continue to expand his scientific knowledge. He gained his postdoctoral qualification in 1979 and the professional title of extraordinary university professor was conferred upon him in 1985.

Klaus Turnheim's scientific opus began with animal experiments to analyse the cardiovascular impact of catecholamines, a predominant example being the analysis of the effect of serotoninergic slimming drug Aminorex, which leads to pulmonary hypertension. He then started to look at transepithelial transport, which was to become his trademark. He was a pioneer in the scientific field of transporter proteins which, at the time, was one of the fastest-growing areas in pharmacology.

The scientific impact of an academic researcher and teacher is also reflected in the development of his colleagues. The careers of numerous outstanding actors, such as Anton Luger, Markus Grasl, Rainer Oberbauer and Michael Roden started in Klaus Turnheim's laboratory. From its very first edition (1975), he was responsible for the chapter on "Water and Electrolytes" in the textbook "General and Specific Pharmacology and Toxicology", known as "Forth-Henschler-Rummel" after its first publishers.

Wolfgang Schütz,
Emeritus Rector and former Head of the Institute of Pharmacology of MedUni Vienna