In memoriam Prof. Herbert Hönigsmann

The European Dermatology Forum (EDF) would like to pay tribute to Prof. Dr. Herbert Hönigsmann, who sadly passed away peacefully on August 21, 2023.

Herbert Hönigsmann was born and raised in Vienna. He attended Medical School, received dermatology training, and spent his entire professional career in the Department of Dermatology at the Medical University of Vienna, except for a 5 years stay as a Faculty Member at the University of Innsbruck. He was lucky to be able to join the group of Klaus Wolff who succeeded in recruiting an outstanding group of talented researchers including Georg Stingl, Peter Fritsch and others. It is fair to say that those were the golden times of Austrian dermatology. In 1981 he was appointed as Professor at the Medical University, in 1992 as Chairman of the Department for Special Dermatology and Environmental Dermatoses. He retired from Medical University of Vienna in 2008.

Herbert Hönigsmann was one of the giants in photodermatology. He was among the first who introduced oral photochemotherapy (PUVA) to the world in the mid 1970s. This treatment dominated the therapy of many dermatoses including psoriasis, mycosis fungoides, vitiligo and polymorphic light eruption for decades. Although the importance of phototherapy decreased in the past years due to the advances in biologics and small-molecules, Herbert Hönigsmann has to be given credit that his investigations tremendously contributed to make phototherapy more efficacious and safer and therefore this modality is still in use. He published many studies focusing on the mechanism of action of the different kinds of phototherapy but also on the pathomechanisms of photodermatoses including porphyrias and polymorphic light eruption. Herbert Hönigsmann was a leader in many photobiological and photodermatological societies. He was a founder of the European Society for Photobiology, and was its president in 1989-1991. He was the president of International Union of Photobiology (2000-2004); IUPB recognized him with its highest honor, Finsen Medal in Photomedicine in 2014.  He was a board member of the Photomedicine Society, American Society for Photobiology, European Society for Dermatology Research, and was the president of Austrian Dermatological Society (1987-1989).  He was an honorary member of the American Dermatological Association, and dermatological societies of Munich, Sweden, Finland and Norway. He was a long-standing member of the EDF.

Everybody who had the pleasure to meet Herbert Hönigsmann personally knows that he was an extremely gentle, friendly, charming and entertaining person. He was valued for his fairness, advice and support.  

Herbert Hönigsmann will be sadly missed. We send all our condolences to his family, in particular to his wife Xandi and his children Maximillian and Sophie. 

Thomas Schwarz