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September 02, 2011

Farewell Lecture of Professor Karl G. Hofbauer

Karl G. Hofbauer has been involved in teaching and research at the Biozentrum, from 2000 till 2011, as Professor for Applied Pharmacology. Before he began his work at the Biozentrum, Prof. Hofbauer had already been working for more than 30 years at the University and in industry, on the development of new medication for the treatment of circulatory and metabolic disorders. He held his farewell lecture on 31. August, 2011.

Professor Karl G. Hofbauer

Professor Karl G. Hofbauer

Seafarers travelled around the globe between the two poles, making discoveries and bringing countless treasures home with them. Furthermore, mariners could tell a good story and were always sure of an interested audience. Today, we bade farewell to an experienced seafarer of the oceans in the world of pharmacology, Prof. Karl G. Hofbauer. As helmsman, he travelled under various flags of the pharmacological world, between the poles of obesity and wasting disorders, and has recorded the collected riches of experienced treasures in two scientific books. Hofbauer felt as much at home on the shores of private industry as on the islands of academic research. His interest in the history of time measurement, astronomy and the ancient measurement system of the Celts enhance the image of Hofbauer as seafarer. His passion for treasure hunting, however, has been confined to terrestrial creatures of our latitude.

Prof. Karl G. Hofbauer, who from 1978 to 2000 rose to become Departmental Head at Ciba-Geigy and later at Novartis to Therapeutic Area Head, had part in the development of new medications for the treatment of circulatory and metabolic disorders, like the hypertension medication Diovan, which was Novartis’ flagship over many years. Nevertheless, Hofbauer was drawn back to fundamental research in science. There were three main reasons for this choice: 1) As manager at Novartis, he could not give his own research enough attention, 2) He wanted to share his knowledge with undergraduate and graduate students and 3) He wanted his colleagues to be stationed here and not in the USA or Japan. And so it came about that Hofbauer was offered a Foundation Professorship from Novartis and took on teaching duties and scientific research at the Biozentrum from 2000 until this year, 2011, as Professor for Applied Pharmacology.

The fascination of contradiction

In his farewell lecture dealing with the pharmacological effect of the placebo, Hofbauer showed how very intrigued he is by contradictory scientific subjects and how well he can captivate the curiosity of his audience. Throughout his life, Hofbauer carried out research and helped to reduce the large gap in the understanding of individual molecular processes on the cellular level and their effect on the body as a whole. His scientific investigations were not only concerned with general pharmacological subjects but also areas, in particular, disorders in energy balance, e.g. obesity, cachexia and anorexia, his focus being the development of new concepts in diagnosis and therapy. As a member of the Faculty of Medicine, he concentrated on teaching medicine students and the conversion of this course of study to the Bachelor/Master system. Along with publications of his work in journals and books, Hofbauer‘s research work also gave rise to three patent applications. He founded the firm Obexia AG in 2009, for their practical realization and implementation. From 2001 to 2003, Prof. Hofbauer was also President of the Swiss Society for Pharmacology and Toxicology.

In their opening speech, the Director of the Biozentrum, Prof. Erich Nigg and the Pharmacologist Prof. emeritus Urs A. Meyer described Prof. Hofbauer as a man with great experience, whose advice was well received by other professors. His professional competence was called upon at the Biozentrum as much as his managerial abilities. The audience honored Prof. Hofbauer‘s farewell speech „Alles Placebo! Vierzig Jahre umsonst geforscht? (All Placebo! 40 years of research in vain?)” with appreciative applause.

Contact: Communications, Thomas Schnyder