On January 8, 2023, Robert Loddenkemper passed away. As a member of The Union Board of Directors, President of European Region, Co-Chair of the region's 2007 Congress in Riga, and contributor to guidelines and standards of care, his influence on The Union was great, but was only part of his presence on the world stage. He was a founder of the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and its president in 1998-1999. He was a major developer of the ERS White Book, a comprehensive assessment of respiratory health and disease in Europe, and the ERS Hermes project to standardise the training of pneumologists across Europe. He held leadership positions in more than a dozen other important health organisations.
Robert Loddenkemper was born on October 21, 1939, in German-controlled Silesia, a few weeks after the beginning of World War II. Growing up in the war and post-war, frayed environment instilled in him a quest to help humanity through medicine and education. As a medical student he became involved in improving medical education. He was offered a junior-doctor position at the newly established Respiratory Diseases Clinic Heckeshorn in Berlin-Wannsee. A one-year fellowship at the University of Illinois in Chicago cemented his clinical and research career in respiratory medicine. His first studies were on pulmonary and cardiac physiology, as these two disciplines were usually together in the 1960s. He became a skilled endoscopist and pioneer in bronchoscopy and medical thoracoscopy. His many studies on pleural disease and its physiology led to a career in cancer and tuberculosis. He has authored more than 400 publications and initiated more than 90 studies.
He wrote on all aspects of tuberculosis—from diagnosis and treatment to control and public health. He was a tireless advocate for lung health, writing on improving outcomes of respiratory disease in developing countries and cost-effectiveness of many tests and treatments. He promoted control of tobacco and air pollution and made major contributions to the studies of environmental mycobacteria, sarcoidosis, bronchiectasis, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, thoracic imaging, home ventilation, the history of medicine, and many other areas. He has won awards and honours from many societies and universities.
The Union is proud to have been associated with this giant of mankind and will miss him greatly.