Esteemed and highly innovative researcher and Stanford University professor of radiology Juergen Willmann, MD, died in a car accident on January 8. He was 45 years-old.
Originally from Germany, Willmann spearheaded research using microbubbles and ultrasound that could be used to identify tumors and target the transmission of medication. His work was already being implemented in clinical imaging trials with humans to detect breast and ovarian cancer. He also won the 2017 Distinguished Investigator Award from the Academy for Radiology & Biomedical Imaging Research.
Not only revered for his pioneering accomplishments, Willmann was known for fostering a strong community with the scholars and students at his lab. His generosity, compassion, and magnetic energy created a “family environment,” said Brooke Jeffrey, MD, professor of radiology at Stanford.
Willman studied at the Albert Ludwig University in Freiburg, Germany, and completed his diagnostic radiology training at the University of California San Francisco and surgery training at the University of Zurich where he also did his residency. He met his wife Amelie Lutz, MD, while in medical school, and the two moved to California when they both received separate research grants at Stanford. In 2008, Willman was brought on as assistant professor of radiology at the university and in 2015 was promoted to full professorship. Lutz is now an assistant professor of radiology at Stanford.
“He was a larger-than-life kind of person,” said Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, chair of the department of radiology at Stanford. “He was exceptionally intelligent, highly driven, supremely organized and a wonderful leader, mentor, father and husband. I could not be more proud of anyone who I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from.”
Aside from his wife Dr. Lutz, Willmann is also survived by his children, Alexander and Juliana; his parents, Elisabeth and Karl Willmann; and his sister, Sabine Willmann.