Reinhold Schmidt Obituary


This month is not the usual immunologist of the month, but an obituary of quite an incredible immunologist who passed away at the end of January 2022. I first met Professor Reinhold E Schmidt in March 2006 on a cold morning in Brussels. We were reviewing grants together at the European Commission and were housed in quite a dim-lit room reading and scoring about 30 grant applications. I was immediately struck by how enthusiastic and eloquent he was at highlighting what he thought about some of the applications. I recall walking back to our respective hotels later in the evening, walking quite fast to dodge the drizzling rain, and discussing the immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) that so often besets HIV and TB-co-infected patients when they begin treatment. The discussion was based on one of the grant applications that took hold of his imagination. He made it sound so very easy and logical, which was something I would come to find inspiring.

There was quite a time before I encountered Reinhold again. This time it was around hosting an HIV cure workshop as part of the South African Immunology Society (SAIS) meeting in 2014 in Cape Town, where I am based. He was able to part-fund the workshop through the Clinical Immunology Committee of the IUIS and I was able to invite several luminaries to participate in the workshop. After the workshop, Reinhold and I had coffee together and he encouraged me to link Immunopaedia to IUIS activities around training of clinicians and scientists. Later that year, we met in Nairobi at the Federation of African Immunology Societies (FAIS) meeting, and he arranged for me to meet with the executive council of the IUIS. I presented our case for Immunopaedia to become an immunology learning tool for the IUIS and from then on, that is what we have become. In the six years from that meeting, Immunopaedia has grown and expanded to support multiple IUS training workshops, as well as non IUIS supported training courses. With the enormous support of others in the IUIS, we are now currently a sub-committee of the Education Committee.

My other distinct memory of Reinhold was in The Gambia at the end of 2016. He was able to make this course come alive and motivated students to participate around the immunology of TB and HIV. He had an ability to make students think and challenged them out of their comfort zone – sometimes very loudly, but always respectfully and with good cheer! Early in the mornings, we would meet and go jogging on the cool sand. He was always fitter than me and seemed to run effortlessly. This makes his passing difficult to comprehend, a fit vibrant person with a huge intellectual curiosity and not afraid to tell you so.

The last time we met was in the Beijing 2019 IUIS meeting. We ran a clinical workshop together on allergy and hypersensitivity and had a packed agenda and room. It was fun and very interactive. It was therefore a real shock to learn of this man’s passing and the role he played in multiple immunology communities. Immunopaedia was a small part of that, and for that we salute Professor Reinhold E. Schmidt.

Clive Gray, Director of Immunopaedia


Other Obituaries:

International Union of Immunological SocietiesUniversity of South AfricaInstitute of Infectious Disease and Molecular MedicineElizabeth Glazer Pediatric Aids Foundation