Hans Klaus Breddin (1928-2006)
A Mentor and Friend to Remember
Professor Hans Klaus Breddin, former chief of the Division of Angiology, J.W. Goethe University Clinic, Frankfurt, Germany, and world renowned clinician-scientist who was among the pioneers to discover the antithrombotic effects of aspirin and its therapeutic usage in arterial diseases has left a legacy in the use of anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs in vascular indications. He was among the first who brought the discipline of angiology to its current ranking as a multidisciplinary field with significant impact on medicine and surgery. He was a true leader who contributed to the creation of several scientific societies and institutes. He was a dedicated teacher at all levels and contributed to curricular development in vascular medicine, speciality training, and expert consensus group statements. He has made lifetime contributions in clinical medicine, research, teaching, public service, regulatory issues, and bringing international collaboration among various groups. For over 50 years, Klaus Breddin kept on providing outstanding services to his beloved field of vascular medicine.
Born in Cologne, Germany in 1928, to a famous geologist, Klaus Breddin qualified medicine at the Munich University in 1952. He established his first Coagulation Laboratory in Aachen in 1954. In 1957 he joined the J.W. Goethe University Clinic where he quickly established himself as one of the leading clinicians and scientists of Germany in the field of vascular medicine. In 1971 he became the director of the Division of Angiology and was promoted to the position of Professor of Internal Medicine at the age of 44. He initiated a training program in vascular medicine gathering groups of young investigators of academic stature and reputation who, upon completion of their programs, went on to develop additional clinical and research programs throughout German speaking Europe including Austria and Switzerland.
During his scientific life, Prof. Klaus Breddin initiated and successfully implemented a considerable number of research programs, some of which are mentioned below:
• He carried out original research on the development of novel methods for the study of platelet function. The introduction of his ingenious tests of rotational or spontaneous platelets aggregation with microscopic and photometric approaches (PAT I-III) became widely popular in many European Countries. These methods provided data on platelet hyperaggregability which would have been difficult to measure by other methods . Two conclusive clinical studies on this subject were published by Prof Breddin and his group in International Angiology in 1986.
• Later, he developed a series of studies for the evaluation of platelet contribution to thrombin generation. This led to the well known PITT test (Platelet-Induced Thrombin Generation Time; Haemostasis 1992). This new method became a useful tool for the study of the effect of heparins and other antithrombotic drugs on platelet-induced coagulation activation.
• A number of original clinical studies with aspirin also deserve mention, among them the German-Austrian Aspirin Trial in Secondary Prevention of Myocardial Infarction (Circulation 1980) which provided the evidence on the role of this important drug in acute coronary syndrome.
• Recognizing the importance of experimental investigations, Prof. Breddin also developed animal models for arterial and venous thrombosis, including the laser-induced thrombosis model, as a basis of the study of the dynamics of the formation or thrombus with specific involvement of the interactions between platelets and endothelium (Haemostasis 1988, 1989). This model became a reference method to validate the pre-clinical efficacy of most of the currently used anticoagulant drugs such as the anti-thrombin agents, anti-Factor Xa agents, and new heparins.
• He was among the pioneering clinical trialists who set new standards in the validation of the clinical efficacy and safety of newer antithrombotic and antiplatelet drugs. In this area his interest focused on new antithrombotic agents such as the low molecular weight heparins, (NEnglJMed 2001; Blood 2002), anti-thrombin agents such as hirudin and argatroban, and the novel inhibitors of activated FX.
In 1988, together with Jawed Fareed of the Loyola University Chicago, and his other expert colleagues, he founded the International Institute of Thrombosis and Vascular Disease, an organization devoted to fostering research in the fields of vascular medicine and surgery. This Institute was fostered by Klaus and provided him a platform to provide scientific educational and technical support to various groups all over the world. He was instrumental in disseminating knowledge in the Eastern European countries and was a great benefactor of then Eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Turkey. Since 1965, he also promoted and organized an outstanding yearly series of Angiological Symposia in Kitzbühel, Austria where many of the important concepts in vascular medicine such as stroke, coronary syndromes, venous thrombosis, vasculitis, and other cutting edge topics were discussed. It is his wish to continue this tradition and promote this yearly event to foster knowledge in vascular medicine.
Upon becoming Professor Emeritus at the University of Frankfurt in 1994, Klaus Breddin continued with unfailing enthusiasm most of his activities and pursued many areas of clinical and applied research, and continued to serve for many of us as an expert scientist and reliable mentor. Some of his “Cursus Honorum” are especially worthy of mention, such as the Doctorus Honoris Causa from the University of Bialystok in Poland in 1994, the Honorary Membership in the International Union of Angiology in 1995, and the Medaille of the German Society on Atherosclerosis in 2000.
Professor Klaus Breddin passed away peacefully on September 3, 2006 after a courageous struggle with cancer. Ironically, he was a great proponent of the use of anticoagulant drugs such as heparin ns in the management of malignancy associated thrombosis. The scientific community engaged in the field of thrombosis and hemostasis all over the world has lost a great mentor and a caring friend. Klaus has left a noticeable gap among us which will be hard to fill. Besides the impact of his scientific presence, we will miss his charming and friendly candor, a blend of humanity, generosity, and understanding that will not be forgotten by those who had the fortune of being his associate and friend, or who simply had the opportunity to perceive the warmth of his presence. He will be greatly missed.
Klaus is left behind be his dedicated wife Helga, son Andreas, and daughter Susanna, her husband and four grandchildren, and a sister Hannah-Lori of Berlin. He cherished his family and despite his busy life took opportunity to spend time with them. We deeply share their loss; however, Klaus is remembered every day by most of us for the wonderful gifts of happiness and joy he provided for so many years in so many ways.
Sergio Coccheri, MD, PhD