Ingram Schulze-Neick, died suddenly and unexpected on April 3rd, 2020. He was born on October 17th, 1960 in Bonn, Germany, which was at that time the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. His father was a High School teacher, and his mother was a teacher at an Elementary School. Together with his younger sister, he spent his entire school time in Bonn from 1966 until June, 1977. Like every young man at that time, he had to enter his military service after school, but after three months of military service, he decided to refuse further military service and continued his community service at the University of Bonn instead, as a research assistant in epilepsy research and General Surgery at the faculty of medicine.
Ingram started his medical studies at the University of Bonn in 1980 and spent his time for the preclinical years there. After passing his Physikum, he moved to Hamburg, Germany, where he graduated from his medical studies in July, 1987. During the following months, he also completed his Doctoral Thesis in December, 1987 at the Institute for Pathology, with the topic of: “Adenoid cystic carcinoma of the salivary glands: an immunohistological study”, which was granted the second highest grading: “Magna Cum Laude”.
During his studies in Hamburg, he took the chance to spend some time outside Germany for several 4-week to 6-week electives. First, he was in Edinburgh, United Kingdom doing Obstetrics and Gynecology, then he visited Harvard University at the Children´s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America for training in Pediatric Cardiology. Following this, he visited the Radcliff Hospital in Oxford, United Kingdom for Neurology, and finally he spent some time in Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America. These electives clearly had paved the way for his further professional career in Pediatric Cardiology and Intensive Care.
After graduation, and in preparation for his planned research time, he passed the relevant United States of America Exams (ECFMG) in January 1988, and he was granted a post-graduate stipendium by the German Research Society for a Research Fellowship. He had the chance to work as a Post-doctorate Research Assistant from April 1988 until August 1989 at the cardiopulmonary exercise laboratories with the team of Professor Hans U. Wessel at the Department for Pediatric Cardiology, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University, Chicago, United States of America. During this time, his deep interest in cardiopulmonary interactions and the pulmonary circulation was born, which never lost its grip on him during the rest of his professional career.
In August 1988, he left the United States of America to start his training as a General Pediatrician at the Medical School of Hannover (MHH), where he spent 2 years until August, 1991, and where he was involved in establishing a laboratory research unit. From September, 1991 until July 1996 he moved to the German Heart Center in Berlin (Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin, DHZB) and the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin from 1996 until April 1997, where he completed his training in Pediatrics. His professor and mentor, Professor Peter E. Lange, supported him and his scientific work. Despite a huge clinical workload, Ingram always found the time to do fundamental research work in clinical topics as well as in the animal laboratory. In these days, nitric oxide first became available for the management of pulmonary hypertension. Ingram Schulze Neick was the first to develop a catheter protocol for testing pulmonary vasoreactivity, and thereby made it possible to assess the severity of pulmonary hypertension in these particular patients. He published innovative case reports in the Lancet, and wrote comments in the New England Journal of Medicine, on the first examples of inhaled or intratracheal prostaglandin administration, techniques that all are standard treatment nowadays. During these fruitful days, he became a very good friend and colleague of many pediatric cardiologists, not only in Germany but also in Europe and worldwide, many of whom are now highly qualified specialists and Professors of Pediatric Cardiology in Germany and elsewhere.
From May 1997 until December 2000, Ingram moved to London, United Kingdom, as a Research Fellow, and was simultaneously involved in clinical work as a Clinical Registrar at the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals and The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children. He joined the team of Professor Andrew Redington and intensified his profound research in pulmonary hypertension and cardiopulmonary cross-talk, and the impact of pulmonary hypertension on the right ventricular function.
After formally completing his training in Pediatric Cardiology in 2000, Ingram Schulze-Neick again joined the team at the DHZB in 2001, as full time Consultant for Pediatric Cardiology, where he shared with the other consultants the responsibilities in the Catheterization Laboratory, the Intensive Care Unit, the Intermediate Care Unit, the transplant service and the outpatient department. During this time, he intensified his research and published numerous papers on the related topics of pulmonary hypertension, cardiopulmonary interactions, congenital heart defects, and intensive care management, mainly in high rated peer reviewed international journals. In addition, he completed his PhD thesis based on his research work: “Postoperative Pulmonary Hypertension after Congenital Heart Surgery: Treatment, Pathophysiology and Vasculo-bronchial Interactions”.
Besides his clinical activities, Ingram Schulze-Neick was a driving member of the German Kompetenznetz, a Germanwide research network leading a clinical task force for the research and management of patients with pulmonary hypertension and congenital heart defects.
In March 2007, Ingram Schulze-Neick was appointed as Clinical Director for the Nationwide Service for Children with Pulmonary Hypertension in the United Kingdom, and lead physician at The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, United Kingdom, where he stayed until 2014.
From 2015, Ingram Schulze-Neick joined our team at the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) in Munich, Germany, where he established a well-recognized and publicly-accepted Specialist Service for Pulmonary Hypertension at the Department for Pediatric Cardiology and Pediatric Intensive Care at the Klinikum of the University of Munich (KUM). He was appointed an Associate Professorship and awarded the title of full Professor in 2018.
In addition, Ingram had another hobby that guided and accompanied his career – the love for music and playing the cello. He started early at school time and played in his school orchestra, later on he joined numerous orchestras of local medical associations, universities, as well as the Orchestra of the German pediatricians. Ingram loved many aspects of music, combining classical music as well as modern jazz. Not to forget, he was one of the co-founders of the Baby Blue Sound Collective, a group of pediatric cardiologists, heart surgeons, nurses, and much more, creating music to support children and adults with congenital heart disease. He joined the last meeting of this famous group in February 2020, one month ahead of his unforeseeable death. A tribute to Ingram from his bandmates can be found here: https://youtu.be/6AHXZHOwYZE
The long and fruitful career and ingenious mind of Ingram Schulze Neick will be continued in the work of his colleagues and friends. Many of them became leaders in their own fields and founders in their own scientific areas, but Ingram’s discussions and thoughts continue to serve as a source of fruitful ideas for many of them. Despite his enormous scientific and clinical research activities, Ingram always remained an excellent physician with all the warmth of a sensible caring doctor. His focus was always the optimal management of the patients and their families, and he always was highly respected for this unique social competence and personal engagement. He used his scientific background to improve the outcome and quality of life of many patients (both children and adults) with congenital heart defects, right ventricular dysfunction, and pulmonary hypertension of all causes. This desire for comprehensive knowledge was characteristic. His broad culture made him one of the most interesting and respected of colleagues and friends. He was dedicated to his family and his patients, and he was always a loyal friend. Whoever had the chance to meet him, or ever had the privilege to work with him, knows what a warm, wonderful, intelligent physician Ingram was. He was a deep thinker and produced pioneering ideas until his last days. His death leaves an unfillable void. We will miss Ingram, and his inspiration and wisdom.
We can commemorate his memory in the only way he would approve, by continuing his work. We will never forget him.