Edmund Lengfelder, physician and radiobiologist, has a workshop of his own. You would expect a scientist to have a lab, but Dr. Lengfelder fashions wooden parts and precision mechanical devices. Nowadays, in retirement, he drills and cuts primarily useful things for the house. But when he was working on his M.D. thesis, you would often find him in the workshops of Munich University late at night, tinkering with a fast light detector system he needed as a metering device for his research. He succeeded in building it and obtained his doctlorate with a thesis on “The radiobiology of nucleotides“.
Edmund Lengfelder was born in Weiden in Bavaria on March 30, 1943. After graduating in 1971, he went to the Institute of Cancer Research and Department of Physics in London to do research on radiation-induced free radical reactions. He also studied physiscs and electronics. During the next two decades he worked mostly with electron accelerators. In 1979 he qualified for lecturing in the field of radiobiology. In 1983 he became a full professor at the Institute for Radiobiology at the Medical School of Munich University. In 1986 he founded the Otto Hug Strahleninstitut, named after the radiobiologist Otto Hug.
Immediately after the Chernobyl disaster in April 1986, Lengfelder travelled to Belorus and the Ukraine to get a firsthand view oft he situation. In 1987, he published a detailed map of Chernobyl contamination in Southern Bavaria. In 1991, after the collapse oft the Soviet Union, he founded a medical center in Gomel, capital town of Gomel Province, the most contaminated area in Belorus. As of today, more than 100 000 children and adults with thyroid conditions have been treated there with the help of local physicians.
When technical devices or spare parts were not available, Lengfelder often developed them in his workshop in Munich (for example an anti-freeze control system for an annex at the Gomel thyroid center).In 1992 he founded the German Association for Chernobyl Aid, and in 2006 he launched the international congress “20 Years of Living with Chernobyl – Lessons and Lessons for the Future“, which evaluated medical and other results of the catastrophe. His current research is not restricted to he health problems caused by Chernobyl. He studies the health hazards caused by low-level radiation in general.
Professor Lengfelder is the recipient of many awards and honors. The City of Munich honored him with the „München leuchtet“ medal in recognition of his help for victims of the Chernobyl catastrophe. Two universities in Minsk gave him honorary doctorates. In 1998 he received the Franzisk-Skorini order, the highest distinction in Belorus for Science and culture. In 2011, Bund Naturschutz awarded him the Bavarian Award for Nature Conservation. We are pleased to add the Nuclear-Free Future Award to this list in 2014.