The RECOMB consortium and many members from the gene therapy community are mourning the loss of our close colleague Dr. Manfred Schmidt. Manfred was a trusted partner in many European consortia, dating back to the fifth frame work program. He was an active member of our RECOMB consortium and will be very much missed, especially by his colleagues in Heidelberg where his company GeneWerk had just merged with Protagen Protein Services in Europe and BioAnalytix in the US to form a brand-new company named ProtaGene. Dr. Schmidt is best known for his application of LAM-PCR for vector safety assessment in gene therapy applications. We will miss his deep knowledge on viral integration sites but mostly his short, dry and to the point remarks.
I recall one of my first meetings with Manfred; it must have been in 2003 or 2004, an Inherinet (5th framework early gene therapy program) meeting, which took place in Lund, Sweden, mid-January. Essentially all participants were staying in the same hotel, which was 1.5 kilometers from the conference center at Lund University. It was early morning, still dark and had snowed a lot. Taxis were arriving to bring us to the conference, but Manfred and I decided it was better to walk the relatively short distance, with a day of sitting ahead of us. We were both in our late thirties and thought this would be an easy stroll. We had not judged the Swedish weather conditions completely right: it was -18 degrees with a blistering cold wind coming in from the waters of the Oresund, and we were not dressed for this kind of winter. We set of walking and chatting, soon were completely silence and cold to our bones; the last part we jogged to stay a bit warm. Covered in snow we entered the hallway of the conference center. Manfred in his typically manner just said: “so, that was harder than expected”. He will be missed! Frank Staal