Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Obituary: Friedrich Staib

Professor Friedrich Staib, MD, DVM, passed away on October 18, 2011 in Sommerhausen near Würzburg. He was 86 years old.

Friedrich Staib was born in Uhingen/Württemberg on August 4, 1925. Following military service and war-time imprisonment, he began medical studies, double majoring in veterinary and human medicine at the Universities of Munich and Würzburg. He received approbation as a veterinarian in 1952 and as a medical doctor in 1959, while at the same time achieving MD and DVM status.

A study in 1951 about the occurrence of yeasts in patients with intestinal illnesses, which he performed with S. Windisch (ZentralblBakteriol [Orig] 1955; 164: 493-507), set the course for further work in the area of medical mycology. Beginning in 1953, Friedrich Staib organized and headed a mycological laboratory at the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology. He completed post-doctoral work in the area of microbiology in 1962 and, in 1968, Friedrich Staib received the Aronson award of Berlin, one of the oldest and most prestigious medical awards in Germany.

In the same year, Friedrich Staib was invited to work at the Robert-Koch Institute in Berlin where he remained director of the mycology division until he retired in 1990.

The field of medical mycology owes a great deal to Friedrich Staib’s significant insights (originally published on the ISHAM websiteread full obituary here). In one small part of his work he achieved the following on Aspergillus and aspergillosis:

His research in the area of environmental mycology discovered the soil habitat of facultative pathogenic moulds, especially Aspergillus fumigatus. He was able to convincingly show that potted plants can be a source of mould infections for immunocompromised patients. These discoveries had a tremendous influence on transplantation and hematology/oncology medicine through the establishment of monitoring regimes for these patients. Through early diagnosis and targeted treatment, the number of deaths caused by invasive fungal infections were significantly reduced, as shown in numerous publications with Friedrich Staib as first author.

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