In Memoriam of Professor Dr Med Stephan Weiland
Professor Dr Med Stephan KM Weiland, 25 December 1958 to 19 March 2007. Professor of Epidemiology, Head of the Institute of Epidemiology, University of Ulm, Coordinator of Phase Two of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) and Executive member of the ISAAC Steering Committee.
Stephan, our much loved friend and colleague, died suddenly and unexpectedly on the 19th March 2007. Stephan was one of the founding members of ISAAC and made an enormous contribution to the scientific development of the study through his long service on the ISAAC Executive and as Phase Two Coordinator. Indeed, without Stephan’s leadership, stamina and diplomatic skills, there would probably have been no ISAAC Phase Two. Above all, he cared about people and dedicated his life to health prevention and health promotion, especially asthma and allergies in children.
Stephan was born and grew up in North-West Germany. He went to medical school in Cologne (1978-1985) and obtained his MD degree in 1987. During this time he became interested in the prevention of disease at a population level. This took him to McGill University in Montreal where he graduated in 1989 with a Masters degree in Epidemiology. He then joined the University of Bochum as assistant professor where he developed an interest in environmental and occupational epidemiology. He was a key individual in the archetypal studies that uncovered unexpected differences in the prevalence of asthma between Western Germany and the recently liberated and heavily polluted East. He moved with Professor Ulrich Keil’s department to Münster in 1993, and four years later was promoted to Associate Professor. In 2002, Stephan moved to Ulm, in southern Germany, to take up the Chair of Epidemiology and set up a new Institute of Epidemiology. This took him closer to the mountains which he had loved since he was a young boy. He was an active hiker, climber and skier and enjoyed these outdoor activities whenever he was able to escape from his heavy workload and responsibilities.
Stephan was an outstanding unit director, an internationally respected scientist and an integral member of the ISAAC Steering Committee. Stephan promoted the idea that the ISAAC partnership should be used to investigate specific factors predisposing to asthma, and led the formation of ISAAC Phase Two with that aim. His coordination of 33 ISAAC Phase Two centres in 22 countries and his leadership of a successful application to European Union Fifth Framework Programme led to the establishment of the ISAAC Phase Two Data Centre in Ulm under his direction. Shortly before he died, Stephan received the good news that the first of a series of papers from Phase Two had been accepted for publication, showing how the relationship between atopy and asthma differs between centres in affluent and less affluent countries. A number of papers have followed, due to the research momentum he established in Ulm.
Stephan’s welcoming smile, warm compassion and lively sense of humour will be greatly missed, but always remembered – he will be forever part of ISAAC. To us we have lost a great friend and collaborator. To Epidemiology, we have lost a great scientist. Our hearts go out to his family.
The ISAAC Steering Committee