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13 February 2002

Young Blood for the University of Heidelberg

Average age of professors lowered appreciably — 16 newly appointed professors at the University — Wide range of disciplines: theology, natural sciences, medicine, law, geography

Young blood for the University of Heidelberg

The range of subjects represented by the 16 newly appointed professors at the University of Heidelberg is broad, encompassing theology, law, geography, the sciences and above all medicine. As on the same occasion last year, only one of the 16 newcomers is a woman, but that does not mean, Rector Professor Hommelhoff emphasised, that the University has lost sight of its resolve to get the ratio of women professors as close as possible to the percentage of women students in the course of time.

The lady in question, Professor Sabina Pauen, will be engaging in infancy research at the Institute of Psychology. Heidelberg's youngest professor, Fred Hamprecht, takes up a post at the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy. The Rector noted that the introduction of the junior professor system would thus not have been absolutely necessary to lower the age of professors entering the University. At the same time, he said, the new system would be given a fair chance to prove its worth. The plan is to establish 10 junior professorships across the whole range of disciplines at the University (with the exception of medicine) and to provide the incumbents with the prospect of remaining at the University on full tenure provided they receive two positive evaluations in the course of six years.

The new director of the Surgical Hospital, Professor Markus Buechler, sees the junior professor system as an instance of "university inbreeding" and for that reason as a dubious development. Like many of the new professors, Buechler studied in Heidelberg himself but held a number of posts elsewhere before returning to his academic roots.

Other former Heidelberg students returning to the alma mater are Professor Hilmar Bading, who will be doing research on the brain at the Faculty of Biology, and Professor Ralf Bartenschlager, the Faculty of Medicine's new virologist. He will be looking for ways of improving therapy for hepatitis C infections. His colleague Professor Helmut Fickenscher will be concentrating on the herpes virus, while Professor Frederik Wenz, who did his doctorate at the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg, is interested in changes in the cell cycle and the repair of genetic material via radiation therapy.

"From student worker in Heidelberg to professor" would be a suitable motto for the career of theologian Professor Helmut Schwier, whose prime concern is to find a connection between the New Testament and practical theology — no easy task. He was also involved in a unique Europe-wide study on the highly topical issue "Church and Israel."

The roots that dentistry professor Peter Rammelsberg will be tugging at are of a very different kind. At the Head Hospital he will be working on minimal interventions designed to restore a dazzling smile to his patients. Even more minimal are the worlds that exert a strong fascination on medical professor Andreas Kulozik, originally a paediatrician and currently interested in molecular medicine and the interplay of bodily functions.

Unlike the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Chemistry and the Faculty of Law only have two new colleagues to welcome in their midst. Chemist Manfred Döring will be spending most of his time at the Karlsruhe Research Centre working on new biochemical catalysts and lecturing in Heidelberg. His colleague Thomas Müller will also be emulating the example of Mother Nature while at the same time addressing the challenging task of synthesising new natural substances.

Law professor Christian Heinrich devotes his energies to matter(s) of a very different nature. His main interest is the law on the termination of contracts and his efforts are directed at engineering "new freedoms for projects and life companions." He also jokingly offered his assistance if there should be any trouble with the Rector's office in connection with contractual agreements. By contrast, Professor Oliver Lepsius is more interested in environmental and police law. Lepsius has been teaching in Heidelberg for two terms already and praised his students as "excellent".

Geography professors Berhard Eitel and Rüdiger Glaser have devoted their research careers to the human habitat.

Georg Sposny / Photo : Alex

Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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Updated: 24.02.2002


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