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Press releases

Obituary of DZHK Professor Jeanette Erdmann

© Universität zu Lübeck

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Prof. Jeanette Erdmann passed away unexpectedly on 9 July 2023 at the age of 57 after a tragic fall. As the first DZHK professor, she had a major influence on the DZHK in Lübeck in particular. She was a great personality and will be missed - both professionally and personally.

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Jeanette Erdmann was an internationally renowned human geneticist. She was one of the first scientists in the world to conduct population studies of genetic risk for cardiovascular disease, known as genome-wide association studies (GWAS). This enabled her to identify a large number of genes that contribute to the risk of heart attack (NEJM 2007; Erdmann et al. Nat Genet 2009, Erdmann et al. Eur Heart J 2011). One of her greatest research successes came when she and her team identified the cause of clustered heart attacks in a family from Emsland (Erdmann et al. Nature, 2013).  The rare combination of two genes led to an increased formation of blood clots, which caused heart attacks even in young family members.

Jeanette Erdmann studied biology and obtained her PhD in human genetics in Bonn. She continued her scientific career in Berlin in the laboratory of Prof. Vera Regitz-Zagrosek. She then worked with Heribert Schunkert in Regensburg before moving to Lübeck in 2003. Here, in 2013, she set up her own Institute for Cardiogenetics, the tenth anniversary of which she celebrated with an international symposium in May this year. At her institute and beyond, she has inspired many young researchers for her subject and has made outstanding contributions to their scientific careers. Jeanette Erdmann was elected to the Leopoldina in 2021. As the National Academy of Sciences, the Leopoldina represents German science abroad and advises political decision-makers.

Jeanette Erdmann has been with the DZHK from the beginning and was deputy spokesperson for the Hamburg/Kiel/Lübeck partner site. Her personality, characterised by prudence and a sense of justice, was invaluable in keeping the common goals of building the DZHK in sight. Through her many international contacts and collaborations, she also took the DZHK out into the world and gave it a professionally excellent and human face.

Jeanette Erdmann has always been open about her own genetic disease, which she has also been researching herself in recent years, without asking for any consideration for her work as a scientist. She bravely faced the progression of the disease and, even in her final weeks, gained a great deal of quality of life thanks to an innovative electric wheelchair. This makes her untimely death all the more tragic.

We will never forget Jeanette Erdmann, her warm heart, her scientific achievements and her human greatness.