Obituary: Prof Otfried Butenandt

06 Apr 2020

Prof. Dr. med. Otfried Butenandt

Otfried Butenandt was born in 1933 in Göttingen, Germany. His father, Adolf F.J. Butenandt, had been awarded with the Nobel prize in chemistry for his work in the field of steroid hormones in 1939. Otfried Butenandt spent part of his school education  in Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany where his father was director of the Max-Planck-Institute for biochemistry for many years. He studied medicine in Göttingen, Tübingen and München from 1953 til 1958. He passed his final medical exam in München, Germany in 1969. After volontary work in the institute for pathology in München, in 1962 he moved to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, USA.  Johns Hopkins Hospital was considered the origin and  center for pediatric endocrinology worldwide. After having returned from the USA he did his specialty training in pediatrics at the Children´s hospital (Haunersches Kinderspital) in München under the guidance of Prof. Dr. med. Klaus Betke. For his scientific works he joined the group of  Professor Dieter Knorr who was one of the founding members of ESPE. During decades Otfried played a leading role as a pediatrician and endocrinologist in the Haunersches Kinderspital. While Dieter Knorr and his colleagues work on steroids and especially the care for children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, Otfried Butenandt worked on radioimmunoassays for the measurement of peptide hormones such as gonadotropins and particularly prolactin and growth hormone. He now began to concentrate on studies on the biologic effects and the metabolism of growth hormone both carrying out basic and clinical studies. In 1970 Otfried Butenandt he finished his habilitation on this topic. In 1976 Otfried Butenandt was appointed professor and extraordinarius for pediatrics and fianlly in 1980 he became full professor for pediatrics with focus on growth and growth disorders in München, Germany. In the following he served as head of the general pediatric outpatient department oft he Haunersche Kinderspital without giving up his work on growth and growth disorders. In 1998 he became professor emeritus.

Butenandt was one of the first scholars who concentrated on growth and growth hormone in Germany . In collaboration with the Hospital for pediatric rheumatology/ Rheumaklinik für Kinder in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and its then director, Professor Truckenbrod, he also studied the effect of growth hormone in growth disorders without GH deficiency. Prof. Dr. med. Otfried Butenandt was during many years (already since the early 70s) an internationally known pediatric endocrinologist and pediatrician. Since 1981 he was a member of the study group for recombinant growth hormone in Germany. He was a founding member of the German working group of pediatric endocrinology (now German society of pediatric endocrinology)   and  the  Growth Hormone Research Society and the  International Society for Growth and Development. He also was a devoted member of the European society for pediatric Endocrinology (ESPE) and attended many of our annual meetings. Otfried Butenandt was a mentor for doctoral students, young scholars and colleagues. He was very much liked, admired and his advice was sought by many.

On 10.03.2020 Otfried Butenandt has passed away aged 87 years. He would have celebrated his 88th birthday on  31.03.2020 88 Jahre. Many colleagues, former doctoral students, trainnees, and friends mourn with his family. We will all miss Otfried Butenandt. Beyond his professional life he was a devoted family person and an example for us all. We as his pupils and friends devote these words and will keep him in good memory.

Prof. Dr. med. Wieland Kiess, Leipzig

Prof. Dr. med. Michael Ranke, Tübingen

Prof. Dr. med. Helmuth Dörr, Erlangen

Prof. Dr. med. Susanne Bechtold-Dalla Pozza