Hanns Plenk Jr. 1940 - 2014
Hanns Plenk jr., was born in Vienna on March 15th 1940. He passed away June 18th 2014 following a sudden heart-attack. Hanns obtained his M.D. degree in 1964 from the University of Vienna, and from 1960 onwards, was employed by the Institute of Histology and Embryology at that university as Assistant and then Assistant Professor. In 1976 he was appointed as Professor of Histology and Embryology. Following his retirement in January 2004, he was made Professor Emeritus at that Institute, as well as Guest Professor (2004-2007) at the Paracelsus Medical
University in Salzburg. He co-authored 182 papers in the fields of bone, cartilage and tooth biology and histology, as well as bone and tooth implants.
We first met Hanns during the early 1990s, at the Scanning Microscopy International meetings in the USA, where he was active as contributor, organiser and chair of the Biomaterials Program. Papers presented at those meetings were published in the Cells & Materials journal. Hanns served on the editorial board of that journal. When the Scanning Microscopy International meetings ceased in 1999 (the last one held in Davos, Switzerland), this programme of conferences was continued in Europe under the auspices of the AO Foundation in Davos.
Similar to their predecessors, the conference programmes were accompanied by a new scientific journal, European Cells and Materials, published on-line only (ecmjournal.org) and one of the first open-access scientific journals. Hanns Plenk jr. was invited to be a Scientific Editor of this journal from the beginning. As part of his duties, he oversaw the reviewing process of papers in his fields of interest, and also reviewed many of the papers himself. As a reviewer, he was meticulous and demanding, but always courteous; a half-way decent paper could be made into a near-perfect paper, even if that required six re-writes by the authors. Occasionally, his reviews were longer than the paper submitted. While his reviews may have exasperated some authors, they were always provided with the intention of serving and improving science. He allowed his younger colleagues to benefit from his vast knowledge and experience, something that we had ample opportunity to experience at both the annual eCM conferences and eCM Journal Board meetings in Davos. He was, however, never overbearing and always provided his wise comments with his customary Viennese charm.
While we had been aware of his heart condition for several years, his final heart attack still caught us by surprise, occurring just a week before he had planned to be in our company for yet another eCM Conference and Board meeting in Davos. Hanns gave us so much, despite his health problems in recent years, and would certainly have given us even more if death had not stopped him. While we are very saddened by his death, we will always be immensely grateful for all that he contributed to his chosen scientific field of bone, biomaterials and histology and to our journal.
We, and the whole of our eCM scientific Editorial Board who were with us in Davos when this very sad news was received, will sorely miss Hanns, and our thoughts are with his wife, Helga, and the family at this time. We will remember him as a true friend and colleague who left us feeling enriched for having known him.
Iolo ap Gwynn, R. Geoff Richards, Godfried M. Roomans