Erhard Haus Tribute
from Linda Sackett-Lundeen
It is a great privilege for me to be able to say a few words about the person you may know as Erhard Haus, MD, PhD, Pathologist, Chronobiologist. After working/teaming with someone for 42 years people become more than just colleagues; they become friends and members of one another’s families, resulting in many warm memories. Passions and interests become intermingled and that is what happened to us. Erhard introduced me, Linda Sackett-Lundeen, to Chronobiology 42 years before his passing, and we worked together to bring that passion not only locally to the Regions/HealthPartners healthcare network but to the World. Erhard was a much sought after lecturer (in many languages), author, and collaborator with scientists in the U.S. and throughout the World. He was always willing to talk about Chronobiology, introduce other researchers and students to the field, and collaborate on studies with whomever asked for help. A fellow researcher from Regions was at a meeting with Erhard in Venice in 2009, and he told me how everyone would stop to listen when Erhard had something to say -- and he always had lots to say and always with a smile and a nod of his head.
Erhard was born in Austria, September 8, 1926. He lived in Vienna until the age of 5 and thereafter in Innsbruck with his parents. After the war, he attended medical school at the University of Innsbruck and the University of Paris, gaining his MD degree in 1957. In Austria, Erhard became a close acquaintance of Dr. Franz Halberg, who was a founder and leader in the field of medical chronobiology at The University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After obtaining his medical degree, Erhard followed Franz to Minnesota, arriving there in the late 1950’s, where he did a residency in Pathology and attained his PhD in 1970 - Biological Aspects of Chronopathology. He assumed a position in the Department of Pathology at the St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center, now called Regions Hospital, in St Paul, Minnesota in 1966. Soon after he became the Medical Director of the Department of Anatomical and Clinical Pathologist for the next 34 years. What also followed in the 5 decades thereafter was tremendous scientific productivity - conducting more than 520 animal and human research studies, over 650 written documents (Books, Book Chapters, Journal Articles, Abstracts), plus the presentation of numerous lectures and poster sessions at national and international meetings. Erhard’s first publications (in German, of course) had to do with Endocrinology, Rheumatology, Epilepsy, and Hematology. His first major publication having to do with a circadian rhythms was in 1959 entitled 24 hour rhythm in susceptibility of C mice to a toxic dose of ethanol.
In the fall of 2012, Erhard did a video discussing the Chronotherapy of Rheumatoid Arthritis; He introduced himself and stated his area of expertise as being the study, exploration, and clinical applications of the Human Time Structure. He said his interests lie in the entire area of Internal Medicine and the attempt to find applications for Chronobiology in the diagnosis and treatment, i.e., chronotherapy of human diseases, including cancers. And that is what he did his entire career. Erhard never bragged about any of his many accomplishments, but I think that one of his most challenging and meaningful one was his invitation to chair, for the World Health Organization (WHO), the Section on Mechanisms of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, in Painters, Fire Fighters, and Shift Workers, which addressed the risk of shift and night work, in conjunction with light at night exposure, for development of breast, prostate and other cancers. He was one of only 24 scientists worldwide that were brought together in France for a week to discuss the effects of shiftwork on cancer and through their work reached the conclusion: “shift work that involves circadian disruption” as being “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
There are so many wonderful memories of our work and times together. He included our work team and our families in many get-togethers at his home on the St. Croix, our homes, restaurants, wherever. We celebrated many of life’s special times together - birthdays, weddings, births, etc. Erhard and Gerry had 9 children and all of them worked with us on research projects at one time or another, especially the two oldest, Richard and Marianne. We went to many meetings together in the U.S., Canada, and Europe and helped plan three International Meetings with Michael Smolensky in the 1990’s in the United States. The very first meeting I went to internationally was in Vienna, Austria. Erhard took the “Minnesota group” on many side trips, showing us the park in the middle of Vienna where he learned to walk up steps, taking us to the Schonbrunn Palace and the beautiful gardens and whispering to us if the guide made a mistake in her presentation. On that same trip, two of us met up with him in Innsbruck and stayed with him at his mother’s home. Again he showed us Innsbruck and we drove with him from there to Munich, it was like having our very own guide to take us from place to place. His knowledge was not only in the scientific genre, but he knew something about everything. His love of Austria also rubbed off on me, whenever I went to a meeting in Europe, part of our time was spent in Austria.
There are many memorable things about Erhard, but of the three most notable one should be APPRECIATE. First, is when you read about rhythms or Chronobiology, please recognize Erhard was one of the most notable pioneers of the field as verified by his many outstanding contributions achieved during his 5 decades of dedicated work in this science. Erhard lived a long life but not long enough to publish all of the findings of his numerous research projects. However, his data have been archived and still today are being harvested for publication as well as for use in the practice of clinical medicine to improve the health of patients. Second, appreciate Erhard as a wonderful role model, both as an academic clinician and medical practitioner, to motivate you to strive to develop and conduct your career like him – always working to do your best, being a good listener, life-long learner, and teacher -- and most importantly love what you do and follow your passions. Lastly, remember Erhard as a warm, energetic and ethical man, who stood ready and willing to share his knowledge of so many things, including Chronobiology. He was a brilliant, intelligent, yet mild, humble (never bragging about his awards or accomplishments), caring, kind, understanding person, who valued his family and his many, many friends in the USA and around the world. There will never be another Erhard Haus and; no one can fill his shoes in the Research of Chronobiology - with his attention to detail, striving for perfection, and overall understanding of what he did and how well he relayed his knowledge to others. However, the pioneering work that he accomplished now sets the foundation for important future developments in the further research and applications of biological rhythms to improve everyday life, health and medical care.
Thank you so much for honoring his memory and work in this way - he would be pleased!!!