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25 April 2001

Opening Ceremony at Otto Meyerhof Centre for Outpatient Care and Clinical Research in Heidelberg

Unique in Germany — Centre named after Nobel Prize laureate Otto Meyerhof (1884-1951), one of the greatest biochemists of the 20th century — Hounded out of Germany in 1938 by the National Socialists

Otto-Meyerhof-Zentrum für ambulante Medizin und klinische Forschung
Otto Meyerhof Centre for Outpatient Care and Clinical Research, Heidelberg
Otto Meyerhof
Otto Meyerhof

At a festive dedication ceremony jointly organised by the State of Baden-Württemberg and the Heidelberg University Hospital Board on 25 April 2001, the new Otto Meyerhof Centre for Outpatient Care and Clinical Research was officially declared open and ready to take up its work as part of the University Hospital Complex. On behalf of the Rector of the University of Heidelberg, vice-rector Prof. Dr. Jochen Tröger welcomed the guests who had assembled for the ceremony. He expressed his gratification at the presence of Otto Meyerhof's daughter, Dr. Bettina Emerson, and his sons Professors Geoffrey and Walter Meyerhof. "The University of Heidelberg acknowledges with gratitude this gesture on the part of Otto Meyerhof's children. Otto Meyerhof was one of the first scientists to re-establish contact with his home university after the demise of the National Socialist regime," said vice-rector Tröger. "This was an important factor in putting Heidelberg University's reputation back on a firm footing."

The idea behind the new Centre is innovative indeed, Tröger went on to say. Medical research has hitherto tended to neglect the body of patients receiving outpatient care. The change of perspective embodied in the new Centre will also mean that these patients will be quicker to benefit from research results in this field. Tröger anticipated that in future the number of patients receiving this kind of care will grow quickly in relation to the inpatient contingent.

The Otto Meyerhof Centre was put up in record time and vice-rector Tröger wished its users excellent research results. "This will be the best way of expressing gratitude to all those who have made such an outstanding contribution to ensuring that the original vision has been realised in the form we see here before us today." In his vote of thanks he included all the participants involved in the project, from the finance ministry and ministry of higher education of Baden-Württemberg to "all those entrusted with the actual construction of this imposing building".

Unique in Germany

The Otto Meyerhof Centre's dedication to outpatient care and clinical research reflects the University Hospital Board's concern to take due account of the observable trend towards transferring medical treatment from the inpatient to the outpatient sector. The increasing inclusion in research and teaching of clients receiving outpatient care means greater emphasis on the systematic provision of best-possible outpatient and day-clinic designs for this body of patients. This implies the creation of new structures guaranteeing the intermesh of outpatient care with clinical research and basic biomedical research.

The new Centre is essentially dedicated to finding a solution for the treatment of illness types which have previously proved resistant to successful care. Chief among these are chronic illnesses where only genuine cooperation between basic medical and biological research can hold out true prospects of success. The work done at the Otto Meyerhof Centre will be largely geared to the priority research concerns of Heidelberg's Faculties of Medicine and Biology. The idea is to develop new medical diagnosis and therapy designs based on the latest findings in molecular medicine. This does not necessarily imply that traditional methods will be replaced but rather that additional approaches will be placed at the service of patients with illnesses that have hitherto proved highly resistant to successful treatment. The Otto Meyerhof Centre can thus confidently be expected to significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of medical research in Heidelberg.

Meyerhof awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology / medicine in 1922

The building is named after Otto Meyerhof (born 12 April 1884 in Hanover, died 6 October 1951 in Philadelphia), one of the leading biochemists of the 20th century. Together with the British physiologist A.V. Hill he was awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology / medicine in 1922 for the discovery of the fixed relationship between the consumption of oxygen and the metabolism of lactic acid in the muscle. In 1929 Meyerhof was appointed Director of the Physiology Section of the newly established Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Medical Research in Heidelberg and honorary professor of the Medical Faculty. It was here that he identified the role of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as an operative substance in the energy metabolism of the cell and the analysis of the stages involved in glycolysis (the Embden-Meyerhof Pathway).

Deprived of his teaching rights as early as 1935 under pressure from the National Socialists, he ultimately found the increasing constraints imposed on him so intolerable that in 1938 he resolved to turn his back on Germany, emigrating first to France and then to the United States, where he was made Research Professor of Physiological Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

Reinstated as honorary professor in Heidelberg (1949)

As a token of restitution for the wrongs done to him in the Nazi era, Otto Meyerhof was re-appointed honorary professor in Heidelberg in 1949.

Otto Meyerhof died in 1951 from the effects of a second heart attack.

Prof. Dr. Heiner Schirmer's lecture "Otto Meyerhof und die Medizin in Heidelberg" is available on the Internet; see http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/presse/news/2104meyerhof.html

Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317
michael.schwarz@rektorat.uni-heidelberg.de


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Updated: 04.05.2001

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