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Obituary: Andreas Weith (1953 to 2019)

16 Jan 2019

We are sad to share the news of the sudden and untimely passing of Andreas Weith who was a Group Leader at the IMP from 1990 to 1997. Andreas was born in Hameln, Germany, and studied chemistry in Göttingen and biology in Bochum. For his PhD, he followed his supervisor Walther Traut who moved to the Medical University Lübeck. After obtaining a doctorate in zoology, he stayed in Lübeck for two more years, focusing on the ultrastructure of chromosomes, in particular the synaptonemal complex and the associated chromatin structure. In 1987, Andreas joined the Institut Pasteur in Paris as a postdoc and one year later became a staff scientist at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg.

In 1990, the Weith family moved to Vienna, following Andreas’ appointment as Group Leader to the young institute. Andreas assembled a small group including three students and a technician and set out to study genes which upon their functional loss contribute to tumorigenesis. Over the years, he focused on human cancers associated with rearrangements on chromosome 1, in particular neuroblastoma and hepatoma. Initially a bit skeptical about the qualities of Vienna as a home town, he eventually warmed up to the charm of Austria and would later call this time “the best years of my scientific career”.

When his term at the IMP came to an end in 1997, Andreas took up a position within Boehringer Ingelheim where he has set up a dedicated Genomics research group in Biberach. His group provided state-of-the art functional genomics expertise, supporting the discovery of new therapeutic concepts and biomarkers for many of Boehringer Ingelheim’s therapeutic areas.

We remember Andreas as an assiduous scientist with great technical and theoretical skills, a deep thinker and considerate colleague. As a way to unchain his mind, he loved being out on the ocean and spent many holidays on his boat, being a skilled and experienced sailor. On occasion, he took a group of IMP colleagues on adventures that are still fondly remembered to this day. We would have wished Andreas many more years to pursue this passion. His work and his personality are remembered by many who joined him on his scientific career for part of the way.