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uni'alumni 2013_ENG

Dedicated to Skin Research The internationally renowned dermatologist Leena Bruckner- Tuderman is vice president of the German Research Foundation There are some honorary posts that you just can’t apply for. The selection process often begins with a scrupulous examination of qualifications to deter- mine whether the candidate is really up to snuff. Prof. Dr. Leena Bruckner-Tuder- man says that she finds it a great honor to have been named vice president of the German Research Foundation (DFG) in July 2012. The 60-year-old medical direc- tor of the Department of Dermatology at the Freiburg University Medical Center is an experienced scientist who began focusing on research early on in her career. She was born and raised in Fin- land, studied medicine in her native country, and left for the USA after completing her doctorate. Studying Genetic Disorders Europe catches up with her again when she meets her future husband in the United States, a Swiss man from Basel. As she has already learned German in school, she has no problems with moving to Switzerland. She carries on with her research while completing her training as a medical specialist in Zurich. From this point on, her research concentrates on the skin, the largest organ of the human body. “I was fasci- nated by what different components come together in the skin, how they react and communicate with each other. Genetic disorders are quick to identify and easy to study,” she says. In 2002 she gives up her position as assistant medical director at the University Dermatological Clinic in Münster to accept a professor- ship at the University of Freiburg. The doctor quickly becomes acclimat- ed to Freiburg, as she is already familiar with the language and lifestyle from her time in Basel and Zurich. Her research team in Freiburg, at times numbering up to 20 researchers, gains recognition for its outstanding publications. The team takes advantage of opportunities to engage in interdisciplinary research of- fered by the university, for instance at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS). Bruckner-Tuderman herself be- comes a fellow there in 2007 and heads the FRIAS School of Life Sciences – LifeNet from 2008 on. In 2012 she becomes a member of the Berlin- Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Among the many other distinctions she has received so far is the Eva Luise Köhler Research Prize for Rare Diseases. She is particularly excited about her new role as DFG vice president. She hopes that the honorary post will give her a chance to improve the conditions for scientists conducting medical research in Germany. “The situation has worsened appreciably,” says Bruckner- Tuderman. “The pressure on employees at the hospitals has become more intense, and there is also more economic pressure.” This has led to a decrease in the willingness to conduct research. “We need programs that take into account the changed conditions.” Separating Work from Pleasure She does not find it surprising that the pressure has also become more intense in her own work life, leaving her little free time. “But I make it a point to separate work from pleasure and am well organized,” says Bruckner-Tuderman. Her jam-packed appointment book also lists weekend trips to Münster, where her husband works as a biochemistry profes- sor. The dedicated medical researcher also finds time to unwind during holidays at her summer house on a lake in Finland, where she engages in hobbies like hiking, reading, bicycle riding, and cooking – until her honorary post, her dermatologi- cal research, and her duties at the medical center claim her undivided atten- tion once again. PORTRAIT Eva Opitz Finland, USA, Switzerland, Germany: Leena Bruckner- Tuderman has worked in many countries in the course of her academic career. Photo: Wiesinger 28