Walter Siegenthaler

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Walter Siegenthaler

Walter Siegenthaler (born December 14, 1923 in Davos ; † October 24, 2010 in Zurich ) was a Swiss internist and professor of internal medicine at the Medical Polyclinic of the University Hospital Zurich . He was a widely recognized researcher and specialist author, university professor, clinic and institute director in his field and has received numerous awards.


Siegenthaler completed elementary school in Davos, where he was born, and high school at the Chur Cantonal School . From 1942 to 1948 he studied medicine at the University of Zurich . He then completed his military service, which he finished with the rank of lieutenant colonel as a division doctor. He found his first job at the Zurich Institute for Pathology under H. von Meyenburg and H. Zollinger. He then worked at the Medical Clinic of the Zurich Cantonal Hospital under W. Löffler. There he completed a four-year training course as a specialist in internal medicine.

In 1958 he accepted the position as senior physician at the medical clinic at the St. Gallen Cantonal Hospital , under the newly elected chief physician R. Hegglin. There he met the assistant doctor Gertrud Zuber, whom he married in 1957. She took the name Gertrud Siegenthaler-Zuber. In 1958, Hegglin was appointed professor and director of the Medical Polyclinic at the University of Zurich. Siegenthaler and his wife moved with him to this university clinic.

In 1961 Siegenthaler completed his habilitation in internal medicine. He and his wife then went on to do research at Stanford University Medical School and Cornell University Medical College, on a scholarship from the University of Zurich . Until 1963 they did research at the local aldosterone laboratories. Returning to Switzerland, Siegenthaler set up a research laboratory in his old position at the University of Zurich, which examined the theoretical basis and the clinical effects of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone complex . In recognition of this work, he was promoted to adjunct professor in 1965 and associate professor in 1967.

In 1968 Siegenthaler was appointed director of the medical polyclinic and full professor at the University Clinic in Bonn . When Hegglin died unexpectedly in 1970, Siegenthaler was appointed as his successor at the University of Zurich. In the following years, with the support of his wife and a large staff, he expanded the medical outpatient clinic into an internationally renowned institute, where numerous pioneering achievements were made. Examples are:

For the period 1978 to 1980 Siegenthaler was elected Dean of the Medical Faculty of the University of Zurich. From 1980 until his retirement in 1991 he was chairman of the Zurich clinic directors' conference. From 1983 to 1984 Siegenthaler was chairman of the German Society for Internal Medicine ; In addition, he has participated in many other specialist institutions and bodies.

For example, after his retirement until 2004, he took over the presidency of the Ludwig Heilmeyer Society for Advances in Internal Medicine and the presidency of the Swiss Research Institute for High Mountain Climates and Medicine . He worked on the board of trustees of the Hamburg Jung Foundation for Science and Research, on the Board of Trustees of the Swiss Study Foundation and on the Board of Trustees for Swiss Youth Research .

Siegenthaler had made a name for himself as the author and editor of numerous textbooks and specialist articles; many of them have been translated into other languages. For example, his Differential Diagnosis of Internal Diseases and Clinical Pathophysiology are standard works in their field that have been reissued over and over again. Since 1982 Siegenthaler was a member of the editorial team of the German Medical Weekly .

Siegenthaler lived in Zurich. In 1994 his wife, Dr. med. Gertrud Siegenthaler-Zuber, after a long illness. At the age of 36 she became the chief physician in internal medicine at the hospital of the Swiss School of Nursing in Zurich, ten years later she went to Bonn with her husband and, after returning to Zurich, became the chief physician at the university hospital. In 1991 she and her husband retired.

In 2003, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, Walter Siegenthaler founded the Walter and Gertrud Siegenthaler Foundation to promote young academics at the Medical Faculty of the University of Zurich. Every year, the University of Zurich awards a research grant and a science prize at the Dies academicus .

The Walter Siegenthaler Society for Advances in Internal Medicine (formerly the Society for Advances in Internal Medicine or Ludwig Heilmeyer Society, of which Siegenthaler was president from 1990 to 2004) is named in his honor . He found his final resting place in the Fluntern cemetery .

Honors and awards (selection)

Walter Siegenthaler has received numerous awards, including:

  • Ernst von Bergmann plaque from the German Society for Internal Medicine, 1972.
  • Congress President of the International Society of Chemotherapy , 1977
  • Visiting Professor, Baylor Medical College Houston, 1981.
  • Elected to the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina , 1981
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), 1981
  • Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, 1983.
  • President of the German Society for Internal Medicine, 1983/84
  • Ludwig Heilmeyer Medal in Gold, awarded by the Society for Advances in Internal Medicine, 1984.
  • Helsinki University Medal for Special Merit, 1990.
  • Honorary doctorate from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, 1991.
  • Honorary member of the Swiss Society for Infectious Diseases, 1991.
  • Honorary member of the German Society for Internal Medicine, 1992.
  • Award for funding from the International Society of Chemotherapy (ISC), 1992.
  • Honorary member of the Swiss Society for Internal Medicine, 1993.
  • Honorary member of the Paul Ehrlich Society for Chemotherapy, 1994.
  • Ernst Jung Gold Medal for Medicine, awarded by the Jung Foundation for Science and Research Hamburg, 1997.
  • Crystal from Davos, 1998.
  • Medal of Honor of the Charité, Humboldt University Berlin, 1999.
  • Gustav von Bergmann Gold Medal, awarded by the German Society for Internal Medicine, 2000.
  • Honorary member of the professional association of German internists, 2001.
  • Hippocrates Award from the Greek Society of Internal Medicine, 2002.
  • Honorary member of the Association of the American Physicians (AAP), 2003.
  • Honorary President of the Society for Advances in Internal Medicine, 2004.
  • Honorary member of the German Society for Endocrinology, 2005.
  • Honorary member of the Swiss Research Institute for High Mountain Climates and Medicine, 2005.
  • Centenary Medal of the Polish Society of Internal Medicine, 2006.
  • Excellence Award from the Swiss Society for Infectious Diseases, 2008.

Furthermore, he himself was named after three prizes:

  • Walter Siegenthaler Prize, founded by the German Medical Weekly, since 2000.
  • Walter Siegenthaler Springer Award, since 2004.
  • Walter Siegenthaler Lecture at the University Hospital Zurich, since 2010.

Publications (selection)

  • ed. with Werner Kaufmann, Hans Hornbostel and Hans Dierck Waller : Textbook of Internal Medicine. 3., rework. and exp. Edition. Thieme , Stuttgart / New York 1992, ISBN 3-13-624303-X .
  • Walter Siegenthaler: Siegenthaler's differential diagnosis. Thieme, 2005, ISBN 3-13-344819-6 (formerly . Differential diagnosis of internal diseases ff 1,952th)
    (English edition: Differential Diagnosis in Internal Medicine. Thieme, 2007 ISBN 978-3-13-142141-8 translated it in. Chinese, Turkish, Polish and Italian)
  • with Hubert Blum: Clinical Pathophysiology. Thieme, 2006, ISBN 3-13-449609-7 .
  • ed. with Werner Waldhäusl: Endocrinium and Metabolism. Series of publications by the German Society for Internal Medicine, Thieme, 2003, ISBN 3-13-133131-3 .
  • ed. with Hubert E. Blum: Cell and Molecular Biology - Basics and Clinical Relevance. (= Series of publications of the German Society for Internal Medicine). Thieme, 2006, ISBN 3-13-134321-4 .


  • Peter Stiefelhagen: Walter Siegenthaler, stations in a lifetime. Springer-Verlag , 2005, ISBN 3-540-26582-1 .
  • Peter Müller: Contemporary medical witness. In conversation with the internist Walter Siegenthaler. Thieme, 2009, ISBN 978-3-13-146861-1 .
  • Martina Frei: Treating celebrities was never my goal. ( Memento from January 15, 2013 in the web archive ) Interview with Walter Siegenthaler. In: Tages-Anzeiger . June 26, 2009.
  • Walter Siegenthaler, "Symposium on the 80th Birthday", Thieme, Stuttgart 2004.
  • Walter Siegenthaler, "Symposium on the 85th Birthday", Dean's Office of the Medical Faculty of the University of Zurich 2009.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Obituary in the Tages-Anzeiger from October 29, 2010.