History of MEDICHEM

1. Founding of MEDICHEM

Prof. Alfred Michael Thiess founded and established MEDICHEM on April 27, 1972, when he was Corporate Medical Director at the world's largest chemical company BASF in Ludwigshafen, Germany.

Prof. Dr. med. habil. Dr. med. h. c. Alfred Michael Thiess, Founder & Honorary President of MEDICHEM, has passed away. Prof. Thiess died on Wednesday, the 3rd of February 2016, exactly four months after his 94th birthday on October 3, 2015.

You can learn about the History of MEDICHEM and you can get an impression of the outstanding life performance which resulted from the 34091 days, or 1132 months, of Prof. Thiess' life from the following excerpt of the Appreciation of Prof. Dr. Dr. Alfred Michael Thiess and Letter of Condolence of the Secretary General, Dr. Maren Beth-Hübner, to his wife Dr. Gisela Thiess of February 10, 2016:

Your husband has not only decisively influenced the development of occupational medicine in Germany by fostering occupational epidemiology, and strengthening health promotion and its evaluation, he not only participated in numerous national and international expert groups, committees and societies and was an internationally very well known personality. In addition to his great commitment at BASF and in the world of occupational medicine he, with his tireless energy, initiated and founded MEDICHEM on April 27, 1972. He was just 50 years old and had qualified as a professor.

He generously donated his time around the clock to his vision: To create what MEDICHEM is today, the world's leading global international scientific association bringing together experts from all over the world, concerned with occupational and environmental health in the production and handling of chemicals.

His persistence and power of persuasion enabled him to overcome all arising difficulties with great diplomacy and always with courtesy and humor.

After he has organized the first MEDICHEM Congress at the BASF-“Feierabendhaus” in Ludwigshafen in 1972, he demonstrated his versatile organizational talent: Again and again he managed that the annual International MEDICHEM Congresses, every three years together with ICOH (International Commission of Occupational Health), were always of high scientific level and took place in wonderful historic environments, in towns rich in tradition: Milan, Brighton, Haifa, San Francisco, Dubrovnik, then in 1979 in Gera in the former East Germany, Tokyo, Cairo, Paris, Calgary, Dublin, Salvador de Bahia, and in the year of his retirement 1986 back in Ludwigshafen, the cradle of MEDICHEM.

After his active professional life and 14 years as President of MEDICHEM he became our MEDICHEM Honorary President in 1986. But with his vigor and infectious enthusiasm he still was able to inspire and motivate people to take up and to realize his ideas, and the people were happy to doing this. He has set people in action and he influenced actively the affairs and the destiny of MEDICHEM until his end. So it was him who had the idea and who has won me to organize and perform the 39th International MEDICHEM Congress “Occupational Health in a Changing World” 2011 in Heidelberg as Chairperson of the congress. He was also the initiator that I was appointed as Secretary General of MEDICHEM in 2013.

Prof. Thiess was also the creator of the distinctive MEDICHEM style: His idea, the ingenious name MEDICHEM: Medical doctors international in the chemical industry. Thereto the emblem: The benzene ring with the Rod of Asclepius. He established insignia for the President: The medallion, a golden board for each Congress and each President, the anvil, in which each outgoing president and secretary general is engraved, and the hammer, by which the President opens the Congresses, Board Meetings and General Assemblies, and closes them. And this chain with the Rod of Asclepius for the Board Members. He formed and spread the particular MEDICHEM spirit: Respect, friendship, warmth. He was the "father" of the global "MEDICHEM Family", which is distributed over 40 countries!

It was obvious for all who met him that he with his wonderful character was not an ordinary person but a distinguished personality with outstanding qualities: His distinctive and sympathetic Transylvanian accent, his stunning charisma, his positive attitude, paired with unshakable optimism and an incomparable power, his encouraging authority, his clear astute mind, his unique esprit and enthusiasm, his ability to motivate and persuade, his sense of humor. He always found the right words, were they laudatory or admonishing, comforting or encouraging - but always they were warm-hearted, wise and generous.

With all these qualities he was the living example of how it works and what it means to build up social and professional networks as well as deep and faithful friendships worldwide. He brought together the right people at the right time at the right place.

Despite all the honors and achievements he always stayed connected to the people, to the nature - for instance on the beloved Donnersberg (Thunder Mountain) in the near Palatinate - and to the bottom of life.

He was charming and amiable until the end, as my husband and I could experience on our last visit three months ago on October 28 at your home, when he could not stop himself, to serve up a glass of port wine (or was it two or even three?). It is a great honor for us to show him our last respects on earth through our involvement in the funeral ceremony on February 12, 2016, my husband with the organ, I with my words of appreciation in the name of MEDICHEM.

He died at the blessed age of 94 after a passionate and very fulfilled, satisfied and I believe also enjoyed life.

MEDICHEM and we all owe a debt of deep gratitude and appreciation, not only to your beloved husband, but also to you, dear Dr. Thiess. Without your lifelong active support and help this outstanding life performance of your husband would certainly never have been realized. Whenever possible he attended the annual MEDICHEM Congresses together with you, and you both with your exceptional and elegant personalities were positive examples for generations of occupational physicians all over the world. For generations of MEDICHEM Officers you and your husband were the best and most gracious hosts in your beautiful home in Oggersheim.

Your husband's legacy will live on through his "baby" MEDICHEM.

Dear Prof. Thiess, your association will never forget you. We will miss you in our midst, but you will live on in our memory.

2. President's of MEDICHEM

1972 - 1986Prof. Dr. Dr. Alfred Michael Thiess *Germany
1986 - 1992Sir Christopher Lawrence-JonesUnited Kingdom
1992 - 1995Dr. David M. J. WilliamsUnited Kingdom
1995 - 2001Dr. Noel HumphryAustralia
2001 - 2007Dr. Stephen BorronUSA
2007 - 2013Dr. Thirumalai RajgopalIndia
2013 - 20Dr. William Murray CoombsSouth Africa

* passed away

3. Secretary's General of MEDICHEM

1972 - 1980Dr. L. de Boer *Netherlands
1980 - 1983Dr. D. F. RijkelsNetherlands
1983 - 1986Sir Christopher Lawrence-JonesUnited Kingdom
1986 - 1989Dr. R. W. AhlbergFinland
1989 - 1993Dr. Robert J. McCunneyUSA
1993 - 2001Dr. Andreas FlückigerSwitzerland
2001 - 2005Dr. Michael NasterlackGermany
2005 - 2007Dr. Robert WinkerAustria
2007 - 2008Dr. Georg WultschAustria
2008 - 2013Dr. Diane Mundt * USA
2013 - 2016Dr. Maren Beth-HübnerGermany
2016 - Prof. Dr. Kenneth A. MundtUSA

* passed away

4. Insignia of MEDICHEM

The Medallion, with a golden board for each Congress and each President, the Anvil, in which each outgoing President and Secretary General is engraved, and the Hammer, by which the President opens the Congresses, Board Meetings and General Assemblies, and closes them, as did Murray Coombs at his first MEDICHEM Board Meeting as new President of MEDICHEM on November 22, 2013 in Heidelberg:


Medallion for the President, Hammer and Chain with the Rod of Asclepius for the Board Members (produced for the MEDICHEM Congress in Tokyo, Japan, 1980):


5. Past MEDICHEM Brochures and Documents

MEDICHEM Flyer: MEDICHEM in Brief (1st edition April 2015 - June 2016)
Application for MEDICHEM Membership-Form (edition December 2013 - June 2016)
MEDICHEM Handbook Updating-Form (edition December 2013 - January 2016)
MEDICHEM Membership Updating-Form (edition February 2016 - June 2016)

6. Past MEDICHEM Congresses

The whole list of past (and future) MEDICHEM Congresses you can find at the heading Congresses (www.medichem.org/congresses/default.asp).

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