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In Memory of Professor Ernst J. Zingg

13 May 2016

In Memory of Professor Ernst J. Zingg

It is with sadness that we note the death on 27 February 2016 of Professor Ernst J. Zingg, a pioneer in the development of modern Urology in Europe.

Zingg was born 27 July 1931. He spent his youth in Zürich, Switzerland, and graduated from medical school there in 1956. As a resident under pathologist Prof. H.U. Zollinger, Zingg obtained an in-depth education in both soft tissue anatomy and the morphology, behavior, and patterns of metastatic spread of malignant tumors. He then received 6 yr of surgical training from Prof. A. Brunner and Prof. A. Senning, two of the best thoracic, visceral, and cardiovascular surgeons in Switzerland. This postgraduate training laid the foundation for Zingg’s professional success as a clinician and urologic oncologic surgeon.

Zingg began his urology training program in Zurich under Prof. G. Mayor, the first urologist to establish an independent department of urology in a Swiss university, separate from general or visceral surgery. In 1965, Zingg was appointed senior physician and, at age 38 yr, he was appointed chairman of the Division, later Department, of Urology at the University Hospital of Bern—the Inselspital—where he served as chairman from 1971 until his retirement in 1994. His profound knowledge of modern urological surgical procedures, his long training in visceral and thoracic surgery, and his own considerable surgical skills formed the basis of Zingg’s professional success as a urologic surgeon with a reputation that spread far beyond the boundaries of his native Switzerland.

In the late 1960s, Zingg and Mayor coauthored the textbook Urologic Surgery, which became the standard reference book in the German-speaking part of Europe and was translated into Spanish and English. The 3-d urology meetings he organized were attended by urologists from all over Europe. In the 1970s, when they were novel, he offered live demonstrations of urologic surgery techniques in an auditorium filled with moderators and participants interacting directly with surgeons in open discussion of each surgical step. Numerous kidney stone patients were referred to him for removal of hyperactive parathyroid adenomas and, in the era before extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy, complex and recurrent intrarenal stones. He pioneered radical prostatectomy and radical cystectomy, and the latter remained a majorfield of activity.

Zingg received many awards, including the St. Paul’s Medal of the British Society of Urology, the Maximilian Nitze Medal of the German Society of Urology, and an honorary membership in the European Association of Urology (EAU). He was also made a corresponding member of the American Society of Genitourinary Surgeons, testifying to the international esteem for his professional achievements and qualities as a person. In 1982, he succeeded Mayor as treasurer of the EAU and held that position until 1994.

When he was diagnosed with an irreversible neurologic disease, Zingg decided to take early retirement. With time, his physical handicap grew worse while his intellect remained clear. His wife, Monika, provided him with loving, in-home care.

His former students remain grateful to him for all that he taught them and will continue to hold the memory of Zingg and his life’s work in the highest regard.