Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Manfred Kirchgessner
Manfred Kirchgessner studied Agricultural Sciences and Chemistry at the Universities of Hohenheim and Stuttgart. At the age of 31, he was appointed to the Chair of Animal Nutrition and Nutrition Physiology at the Technical University of Munich, where he remained until his retirement (in emeritus status). In the years between 1961 and 1997, he was Director of the Institute for Nutrition Physiology in Weihenstephan, and Head of the research station in Hirschau for more than thirty years. Despite being offered chairs by the Universities of Hohenheim and Göttingen, he chose to remain at the Technical University of Munich in Freising Weihenstephan.
In the course of his active career, Manfred Kirchgessner significantly influenced the field of Animal Nutrition and Nutrition Physiology in Germany as well as internationally. In particular, his trace mineral research gained him a worldwide reputation. He also made significant contributions with his studies on the adaptation of energy and protein metabolism during growth and lactation in deficient and surplus situations. His aim was not just to qualitatively characterize and describe nutrition metabolism, but also to quantify nutrient streams. His work substantially influenced classic nutrition research, and also, the significance of nutrition science in natural science research as a whole. Using well‐thought‐out research approaches, his research provided answers to questions regarding the essential need for micronutrients, their distribution and function in homoeostatic regulation in living organisms, and filled in knowledge gaps in the area of nutrition biology. His findings are documented in more than 1,500 publications. Under his academic supervision, 145 young research scientists completed their doctoral theses, and he guided 22 through post‐doctoral qualifications. More than 20 of his former students currently work as professors all over the world. I am proud to be a member of this group.
Professor Kirchgessner's extensive scientific work frequently received awards, including the Henneberg‐Lehmann Prize from the University of Göttingen, the Gustav‐Fingerling Medal from the German Agricultural Society, and the Roche Research Prize for Animal Nutrition in Zürich. In 1983, he was accepted into the German National Academy of Sciences, the Leopoldina, and was later elected to the advisory Senate. For his groundbreaking work, Manfred Kirchgessner was repeatedly honoured by receiving several honorary doctoral degrees, from the Justus‐Liebig University Giessen, the Ludwig‐Maximilians University Munich, the Humboldt University Berlin, the Martin Luther University Halle‐Wittenberg, and the University of Santiago, Chile, as well as from the Universities of Bejing and Nanchang in China.
Manfred Kirchgessner was a passionate researcher, who significantly advanced and shaped the field of science. On the occasion of his being awarded an honorary doctoral degree in Giessen, he was quoted as saying: “Knowledge that is not published is not science; but not everything that is published is science.” This statement still retains its significance, even to this day.
We mourn the death of Manfred Kirchgessner and bid farewell to an outstanding scientist, an influential teacher and an inspirational person.