Lorenz Poellinger was a physician and a biochemist, a molecular biologist and a physiologist, and was highly accomplished in all of these fields.

He was educated at the Deutsche Schule, (Tyska skolan, German Academy) in Stockholm, and there attained his remarkable command of languages; he of course spoke fluent and elegant Swedish and English, but also perfect German as well as French. He also had a command of Latin, and an extraordinary number of colorful phrases from what at times seemed every other language he had encountered.

He went on to obtain an MD/PhD from the Karolinska Institute, with Jan-Åke Gustafsson as his doctoral adviser. In the Gustafsson group he was incredibly productive, and made great strides in the understanding of the biology of dioxin response and the molecular mechanisms surrounding xenobiotic response pathways in general.

He then took up a post-doctoral position with Robert Roeder at the Rockefeller Institute in New York, and published groundbreaking work on promoter/enhancer binding. This laid the foundation for his subsequent work as a PI after returning to KI; where he initially took up the study of dioxin-responsive transcriptional control, and was one of the leaders and key figures in elucidating the transcriptional pathways related to that response.

As Lorenz and his group continued to work on dioxin response and transcription, he became intrigued with a closely related pathway, that of the HIF transcription factors. His work on that pathway was amongst the most important in determining how oxygen responsiveness is regulated at the molecular level. He was a leader in determining the mechanisms of hypoxia-driven transcription. In his later career, he also opened up a new body of work related to how the hypoxic response is itself modulated epigenetically.

His work was marked with an elegance and economy of style, and he answered questions in a straightforward manner that was exemplary for its rigor and clarity. This was also how he dealt with his colleagues and collaborators; we all cherished his appreciation for our science, and perhaps were a bit apprehensive if he looked severe before asking a question. In the latter case it wasn’t that he was unfair; but those who knew him also knew that he was unsparing when it came to work he felt did not truly address the question at hand.

Lorenz was, in the end, a thorough, creative, and generous scientist. He was brilliant, and he shared that brilliance freely with all of those he worked with. He would always listen for the one true thing in the midst of any story, and would go straight to it, to the benefit of everyone else in the room. We were very privileged to have him as a colleague, and his voice will be missed by all that heard it ask a question at a seminar, or wonder out loud about a concern at a committee meeting. He will be missed.

In commemoration of his work, a group of his friends and colleagues has come together and created this compendium of current reviews of research on hypoxic response. The very wide range of topics demonstrates the dynamism of this field of science; this is something that Lorenz in no small way contributed to. The current state of understanding is based in some measure on the work he did; and his legacy will be at the foundation of the very exciting work in this field that is surely to come.

-Amato Giaccia, Randall S. Johnson


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© 2017 Published by Elsevier Inc.