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Obituary for Prof. Bernhard Brutschy

CEF Senior Scientist Bernhard Brutschy died at the age of 68 on 14th of October 2014.

Born in 1946 in Waldshut in Southern Germany, Bernhard Brutschy studied physics and mathematics at the University of Freiburg and received his PhD in physics there in 1977 under the supervision of H. Haberland. After a year of postdoctoral research at the Hahn-Meitner-Institute in Berlin, with A. Henglein and A. Ding, he joined H. Baumgärtel at the Free University of Berlin. He completed his habilitation in physical chemistry in 1988. Brutschy was appointed full professor for physical chemistry at the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry of the Goethe University of Frankfurt in 1992, a position he held until his retirement in 2011. Bernd Brutschy, as he was known to most of his colleagues, was Senior Investigator of CEF from 2008 until his retirement.

Bruschy`s main research interest was gas phase spectroscopy and in particular spectroscopy of microsolvated clusters. His contributions to analytical chemistry of biomolecules, development of new laser tools and molecular targets as well as fluorescence correlations spectroscopy at single molecule level was well respected internationally.

A major breakthrough in the last years of his research activity in Frankfurt was the LILBID mass spectrometry method, which he developed and published in 2008 together with Nina Morgner and Hans-Dieter Barth.  LILBID stands for “laser induced liquid bead ion desorption mass spectrometry” and it overcame some major limitations inherent in other mass spectrometry methods. With LILBID large complexes can be investigated as an intact whole as well as separated into their components. In addition, LILBID only requires very small amounts of samples and can cope with the detergents present in samples of membrane protein complexes.

Brutschy received several honours for his research, including a lectureship from the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie (FCI, German Chemical Industry Fund) in 2004, the Bonhoeffer-Eucken-Scheibe memorial lecture of the Deutsche Bunsen Gesellschaft (DBG) in 2008, and the honorary medal of the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Science in 2011. He was guest professor at universities in Brazil, Japan, Poland and France. Brutschy was a member of several international editorial and advisory boards, including the editorial board of the journal PhysChemComm and the ownership board of the Royal Society Journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (PCCP).  Locally he served as director of the Institute for Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, as dean of his faculty and as member of the senate of the Goethe University, to name but some of his responsibilities.

Brutschy has left his mark on physical chemistry research in Frankfurt. It is tragic that illness struck so soon after his retirement. Bernd Bruschy’s contributions will live on in the research projects that profit from his developments and his colleagues in CEF will honour his memory.


Selected Publications

Deutsch GB, Zielonka EM, Coutandin D, Weber TA, Schäfer B, Hannewald J, Luh LM, Durst FG, Ibrahim M, Hoffmann J, Niesen FH, Sentürk A, Kunkel H, Brutschy B, Schleiff E, Knapp S, Acker-Palmer A, Grez M, McKeon F, Dötsch V (2011) DNA damage in oocytes induces a switch of the quality control factor TAp63± from dimer to tetramer. Cell 144:566-576. Link 

Dröse S, Krack S, Sokolova L, Zwicker K, Barth HD, Morgner N, Heide H, Steger M, Nubel E, Zickermann V, Kerscher S, Brutschy B, Radermacher M, Brandt U (2011) Functional dissection of the proton pumping modules of mitochondrial complex I. PLoS Biol 9:e1001128. Link

Gao Y, Meyer B, Sokolova L, Zwicker K, Karas M, Brutschy B, Peng GH, Michel H (2012) Heme-copper terminal oxidase using both cytochrome c and ubiquinol as electron donors. P Natl Acad Sci USA 109:3275-3280. Link

Hakulinen J, Klyszejko AL, Hoffmann J, Eckhardt-Strelau L, Brutschy B, Vonck J, Meier T (2012) Structural study on the architecture of the bacterial ATP synthase Fo motor. P Natl Acad Sci USA 109:2050-2056. Link

Morgner N, Kleinschroth T, Barth HD, Ludwig B, Brutschy B (2007) A novel approach to analyze membrane proteins by laser mass spectrometry: From protein subunits to the integral complex. J Am Soc Mass Spectr 18:1429-1438. Link

Nosenko Y, Kunitski M, Thummel RP, Kyrychenko A, Herbich J, Waluk J, Riehn C, Brutschy B (2006) Detection and structural characterization of clusters with ultrashort-lived electronically excited states: IR absorption detected by femtosecond multiphoton ionization. J Am Chem Soc 128:10000-10001. Link

Nosenko Y, Wiosna-Salyga G, Kunitski M, Petkova I, Singh A, Buma WJ, Thummel RP, Brutschy B, Waluk J (2008) Proton transfer with a twist? Femtosecond dynamics of 7-(2-pyridyl)-indole in condensed phase and in supersonic jets. Angew Chem Int Edit 47:6037-6040. Link

Schmidt TL, Nandi CK, Rasched G, Parui PP, Brutschy B, Famulok M, Heckel A (2007) Polyamide struts for DNA architectures. Angew Chem Int Edit 46:4382-4384. Link

Vaupel S, Brutschy B, Tarakeshwar P, Kim KS (2006) Characterization of weak NH-pi intermolecular interactions of ammonia with various substituted pi-systems. J Am Chem Soc 128:5416-5426. Link

Zakharov M, Krauss O, Nosenko Y, Brutschy B, Dreuw A (2009) Specific microsolvation triggers dissociation-mediated anomalous red-shifted fluorescence in the gas phase. J Am Chem Soc 131:461-469. Link