Prof. Dr. Dr.h.c. mult. Marian Horzinek, Obituary
On July 28, 2016, Marian Horzinek, our friend and colleague over many years has passed away; he was in his 80th year of life.
After having fled from Poland to East Germany following WW II, and later to West Germany, Marian Horzinek studied veterinary medicine in Giessen and Hannover, Germany, where he graduated as a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) in 1962. His doctoral thesis about treatment recipes for cattle diseases from medieval Viennese documents provided an early glimpse of his scientific interests. After a brief stint in small animal practice, he started his career in virology as a research fellow of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft at the Public Health Laboratory in Hannover, where he helped to establish the Chair of Virology at the Veterinary School. He spent a year as a research fellow in arbovirology at the “Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas” in Caracas, Venezuela. After his return to Germany, he became Head of the Exotic Diseases Division at the Federal Research Institute for Animal Virus Diseases in Tübingen.
In 1970, he gained his ‘Habilitation’ (a PhD equivalent) in virology, based on structural studies on arboviruses.
In 1971, at the age of 35, he moved to The Netherlands where he was appointed Head of Department and Professor of Virology and Virus Diseases at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University. Here he became the ‘Founding Father’ of veterinary virology in The Netherlands, by training a whole new generation of Dutch virologists. He implanted the enthusiasm for virology research into dozens of young veterinarians and biologists. Several of his ‘scientific offspring’ have become professors in leading positions within and outside The Netherlands and his legacy continues to contribute to the highly productive field of virology research in The Netherlands.
Since 1992, he has been director of Utrecht University’s Institute of Veterinary Research, and in 1996 he established the Graduate School Animal Health.
Although most of his later career focused on coronavirus research, he closely followed recent outbreaks and geographical expansions of arboviruses with great interest, emphasizing the importance of a broad and deep knowledge base across disciplines (a.o. entomology, veterinary and medical virology, cell biology and molecular biology) in order to understand the root causes of these emerging disease outbreaks.
His “retirement” project was the establishment of the online veterinary research journal, Veterinary Sciences Tomorrow, with which he could satisfy his never abating curiosity for science and innovation, merged with his drive to stimulate new generations of veterinary students into scientific thinking and debate as the basis for their work. In addition, he regarded retirement as a welcome excuse to retire from the burdens of academic leadership, only to free time for “the funside”.
Professor Horzinek has been honored with several honorary degrees outside the Veterinary Faculty of Utrecht, as Courtesy Professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, USA, and Clinical Professor of Virology at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, USA, and honorary doctorates from the University of Ghent (Belgium) and the Veterinary School in Hannover (Germany). During his career, Professor Horzinek has gained many prizes and awards from research organisations in Giessen (Germany), Liège (Belgium), Geelong (Australia), Yokohama (Japan) and Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Zurich (Switzerland) and many more. His publications include in excess of 300 scientific papers and more than 30 books and monographs, a handbook and many CD-ROM articles. He has been an editor or an editorial board member for scientific journals published in the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, France and Italy.
In 2005, he founded ABCD, the Advisory Board on Cat Diseases, an international group of researchers and clinicians with focus on infectious diseases of the cat and directed the board until 2015 as chairman. From 2005 till 2013, Prof. Horzinek also served as chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board to the Veterinary University of Vienna. For many years, Professor Horzinek has been Editor-in-Chief for the Elsevier journal “Veterinary Microbiology”. He was the founding president of the European Society of Feline Medicine, a scientific society based in the UK, and a founding member of the German Gesellschaft für Kynologische Forschung, a fund-raising initiative for veterinary research. This list of achievements represents just a fraction of his international activities.
Marian Horzinek was a prominent scientist whose creative power and his constant support were motivating to a large number of supporters and admirers. In spite of his success as a scientist, he never lost contact with practicing veterinarians, and he was a popular speaker at continuing education events. When he gave a talk, all over the world the lecture halls were full and his presentations were remembered a long time.
Virologists and veterinarians will greatly miss him and his generous and ceaseless support.
Emeritus Prof. Dr. Hans Lutz, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Prof. Dr. Marion Koopmans, Erasmus MC, The Netherlands Prof. Dr. Ab Osterhaus, Utrecht University, The Netherlands, and University of Hannover, Germany
Emeritus Prof. Dr. Peter Rottier, Utrecht University, The Netherlands