Wolfgang Schmutzler

Wolfgang started his academic career in Heidelberg in 1957 when he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine with a physiology thesis entitled ’Sense of temperature and temperature regulation’. After 2 years as a clinical assistant, he moved first to Düsseldorf and then to Frieburg to work with Fritz Hahn, who was one of the pioneers of Immunopharmacology. Wolfgang studied the role of histamine in anaphylaxis and the mechanism and kinetics of anaphylatoxin in guinea-pigs. In 1952, he discovered the release of diamine oxidase or histaminase by heparin and other polyelectrolytes in the guinea-pig. He traced the source of this diamine oxidase to the microsomal fraction of the liver.

In 1966, Wolfgang obtained the degree of lecturer in Pharmacology and Toxicology at Frieburg University with a thesis on ‘Histaminase Liberation’. Then, the following year, he came to work with Professor Charles Vernon and his research group at University College London, to learn some techniques of protein chemistry. Whilst at UCL, Wolfgang worked with Professor Shawn Doonan on threonine dehydrogenase from the liver of sheep. In 1969, Wolfgang Schmutzler moved to the University of Aachen, initially as a senior lecturer and then two years later as Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, a position that he held until his retirement a few years ago.

Wolfgang’s contribution to Immunopharmacology has been immense. In addition to the works that I have briefly summarised, he developed the human mast cell as a model for the study of antiallergic drugs and pseudoallergic agents and most recently he became interested in the role of the macrophage in allergic reactions. This latter topic formed part of the millennium Geoff West Memorial Lecture “Mast cell and non-mast cell histamine” that Wolfgang gave at Geoff’s academic home at the University of East London.

Wolfgang’s contribution to our Society has been equally immense. He has attended virtually every meeting since its inception, he organised a wonderful congress in Aachen in 1985, and most recently he has acted as our Treasurer during which tenure he has overseen the formal European recognition of the Society.

Wolfgang Schmutzler died on the 5th of November 2007.