Obituary Prof. Dr. Hellmut Mehnert

The members of the German Center for Diabetes Research mourn the loss of Professor Dr. Hellmut Mehnert, who passed away in Munich shortly before his 95th birthday. Hellmut Mehnert markedly shaped diabetology in Germany, both clinically and scientifically, and remained a source of inspiration thanks to his untiring work well into old age.

Professor Dr. Hellmut Mehnert. © Verlag Kirchheim

After his studies at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and a stay at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, he was chief physician at the Department of Medicine III for Metabolism, Endocrinology, Diabetology, Angiology, and Gastroenterology at the Academic Teaching Hospital Munich Schwabing for 30 years. Under his leadership, the hospital developed into a major diabetes center. A subject of particular importance to him was the provision of information and care for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. His textbook “Diabetologie in Klinik und Praxis“ (Diabetology in the Clinical and Practical Setting), now in its 6th edition, remains the definitive work for those interested in diabetes, whether laypersons, students, or physicians.

Translational diabetes research is the central focus of the German Center for Diabetes Research. Hellmut Mehnert was a pioneer in the field and, in 1968, together with Professor Dr. Otto Wieland, he founded the Institute of Diabetes Research and the diabetes research group for the study of diabetes-related diseases, pathobiochemistry of insulin deficiency, and the complications of diabetes. Over the course of his career Hellmut Mehnert supported and accompanied many students, physicians, and clinician scientists in their scientific work and was always a fascinating mentor and motivator. Renowned students of his remain active in the clinical and research fields of diabetology to this day.

Hellmut Mehnert was also a role model in scientific communication. He was a talented and fascinating science communicator who presented important and new findings for the prevention and treatment of diabetes not only to his specialist colleagues in lectures and columns, but also directly to people with diabetes through numerous appearances on radio and television, and in local and national newspapers. Hellmut Mehnert was awarded many accolades and awards, with the Paracelsus Medal, the highest award of the German medical profession, and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany deserving special mention.

In recent decades, Hellmut Mehnert shaped the field of diabetology like no other. He is survived by his wife Rike, who supported him in all his endeavors, and his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

We will always fondly remember his enthusiasm, commitment, and profound sense of humor.