In memoriam Hans-Dieter Klenk (1938-2021)


Hans-Dieter Klenk was an internationally renowned expert in virus research. From 1985 until his retirement in 2007, he was head of the Institute for Virology at the University of Marburg, Germany. He had a decisive influence on Marburg Institute for Virology and established its international orientation and visibility. Klenk studied medicine and biochemistry in Tübingen, Vienna and Cologne. He was a visiting scientist at Rockefeller University in New York, professor at Justus Liebig University in Gießen, and served for six years as President of the German Society for Virology.

Hans-Dieter Klenk

Among other things, Klenk devoted himself to research into viruses that are transmitted from animals to humans and can cause serious diseases. His research focused on the structure and function of enveloped viruses, such as influenza viruses, paramyxoviruses, and filoviruses, with a special emphasis on the role of viral glycoproteins and RNA polymerases in the infection process, pathogenesis, and interspecies transmission. His research crucially contributed to the development of vaccines and antiviral drugs against the Ebola virus and other important pathogens. He was also a key driver in Germany in the then emerging field of RNA virology and he recognized the importance to human health of zoonotic viruses. Hans-Dieter Klenk was one of several German virologists of the modern era who made substantial contributions to our understanding of virus biology. Europe has lost a father figure in this discipline.

We would like to thank Prof Jeffrey W. Almond, University of Oxford who took the time to edit this obituary

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