Bernd Binder, 1945 - 2010
(Vienna, 30 August 2010) Univ. Prof. Dr. Bernd Binder died on 28 August 2010 after a long illness. With him the Medical University of Vienna has lost one of its most prominent scientists and teachers.
In his career lasting more than 40 years Bernd Binder made a long list of important scientific contributions: these include the purification of t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator, the activator of fibrinolysis) in 1978 as a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Kade Foundation in Harvard with Jocelyn Spragg and Frank Austen. The availability of t-PA (in recombinant form called alteplase) revolutionised the treatment of heart attacks. His knowledge of coagulation factors and growth factors also took Bernd Binder first of all to the Serotherapeutic Institute and later to the company Technoclone, which he founded in 1987. Bernd Binder's scientific interest then focused on vascular biology: he also established this specialist field at the former Medical Faculty, and in 1996 the corresponding institute was founded, which was one of the most scientifically productive in the Faculty and later in the Medical University of Vienna. In 1992 there were outstanding scientific contributions – together with Oswald Wagner and other employees – with the proof that endothelium releases its hormone endothelin-1 in focused form as a tissue hormone: endothelin-1 is released above all in the direction of the smooth muscle cells and the tissue and only a small part of it into the blood. Today treatment with endothelin antagonists is one of the pillars of therapy for high blood pressure in the pulmonary vessels.
Another important concept developed by Bernd Binder was the signal function of the urokinase receptor: on the one hand, this enables focused activation of plasminogens on the cell surface and thus penetration of cells into the tissue, a condition which enables cancer cells to spread and metastasise. On the other hand, this receptor also provides a signal which stimulates cell growth. The understanding of these processes may provide a basis for the development of new strategies to treat cancer.
As an academic teacher Bernd Binder was known for his pointed style and high demands; students of medicine were moved by him, but also polarised. The one group enthused about him and his scientific approach to physiology classes and therefore gave him top marks in evaluations. Others could not cope with his explosive ideas. Bernd Binder was able to identify and promote many talents. His high-profile students include the likes of Oswald Wagner, Margarete Geiger, Johann Wojta, Norbert Leitinger, Kurt Huber and many others.
As well as his involvement in science and academic teaching, the development of the Medical University of Vienna, previously the Medical Faculty of the University of Vienna, was always a primary concern for him, however. He was always represented in their highest cooperative bodies in a highly prudent and productive way. Worth mentioning in particular are his annually created rankings on the research output of our University and comparative universities in Austria and abroad. Without him the Medical University of Vienna would certainly not be where it is today.
Bernd Binder leaves behind a wife and four children, three of whom are also successfully involved in science – at the Medical University of Vienna, Columbia University (New York) and the Max Planck Institute in Munich, while his daughter heads the company Technoclone.
Our sympathy goes out to his family. As colleagues only a quote from Mark Antony's speech remains: "He was a friend, faithful and just to me".
POLAR SECRETION OF ENDOTHELIN-1 BY CULTURED ENDOTHELIAL-CELLS
Author(s): WAGNER OF, CHRIST G, WOJTA J, et al.
Source: JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Volume: 267 Issue: 23 Pages: 16066-16068 Published: AUG 15 1992 481
PURIFICATION AND CHARACTERIZATION OF HUMAN VASCULAR PLASMINOGEN ACTIVATOR DERIVED FROM BLOOD-VESSEL PERFUSATES
Author(s): BINDER BR, SPRAGG J, AUSTEN KF
Source: JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Volume: 254 Issue: 6 Pages: 1998-2003 Published: 1979
PROLIFERATION OF A HUMAN EPIDERMAL TUMOR-CELL LINE STIMULATED BY UROKINASE
Author(s): KIRCHHEIMER JC, WOJTA J, CHRIST G, et al.
FASEB JOURNAL Volume: 1 Issue: 2 Pages: 125-128 Published: AUG 1987