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Walter M. Teller

Born 1928
Died 1999

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German paediatrician, born October 10, 1928, Essen/Ruhr; died February 10, 1999.

Biography of Walter M. Teller

Walter M. Teller attended the universities of Würzburg, Freiburg and Heidelberg from 1948 to 1955, graduating from the University of Freiburg. During the years 1955-1957 he absolved a two year internship in Freiburg, Germany; Altoona, Pennsylvania, USA, and Cologne, Germany. He was thus one of the first Germans after the war to participate in an exchange programme with the United States. From 1957 he trained for two years in biochemistry Training at the Institute for Physiological Chemistry in Düsseldorf under professor Hinsberg.

From 1959 to 1961 he served as a fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA and completed his training in paediatrics as a US Public Health Service Research Fellow in Paediatric Endocrinology at the Children’s Hospital in Boston under the guidance of John Fielding Crigler (born 1919). In 1962, he passed the American Board of Pediatrics.

Teller then returned to Germany to work at the Children's hospital, University of Marburg, under professor Friedrich Linneweh (1908-1992), becoming a lecturer in paediatrics and paediatric endocrinology in 1965. His academic career progressed rapidly and he became the Head of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Ulm in 1968. From 1967-1968 he was Associate Professor, University of Heidelberg, working with the Swiss professor Horst Bickel (1918-200). In 1968 he became Professor and Chair of Paediatrics, University of Ulm, a position which he held until his retirement in 1997.

Walter Teller was a general paediatrician whose special interest was in paediatric endocrinology. For over 30 years, he and his co-workers promoted the development of chemical methods for the determination of steroids in various body fluids. As a consequence of his studies in south Germany, he observed that newborns frequently suffered from severe neonatal goitre, a finding which led him to become the first physician in Germany to initiate iodine supplementation during pregnancy, and, today, neonatal goitre is no longer a threat in Germany.

Walter Teller served as Secretary of the European Society for Pediatric Research and was a council member and one-time president of the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology (ESPE). He
held several positions within the national paediatric community. Among the honours he was bestowed, was the Czerny Award, the highest award of the German Pediatric Society, and the Andrea Prader Award of the ESPE in 1997.

Parts of this information were taken from an obituary by E. Heinze and J. Homoki, Children’s Hospital, University of Ulm, Germany.

We thank Patrick Jucker-Kupper for information submitted.

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