Professor Michael Speicher, who has died unexpectedly at 63, was a great friend to ESHG as well as being an outstanding scientist. He had been head of the Diagnostic and Research Institute of Human Genetics at the Medical University of Graz since 2006, and since 2018 deputy head of the Diagnostic and Research Centre for Molecular Biomedicine.
He was president of the Austrian Society of Human Genetics from 2012 to 2018, and vice-president since then. As a former member of the ESHG Scientific Programme Committee, he worked with many of the Society’s officers and committee members. Former Chair of the SPC Professor Joris Veltman said: “Michael pioneered the use of genetics approaches to study the human genome from multiple angles. He developed the use of karyotyping human chromosomes by combinatorial multi-colour fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) in the 90s. He also used FISH to make the first three-dimensional maps of all chromosomes in human nuclei and identify chromosomal territories. On top of this, he successfully used genomic and transcriptomic approaches to identify cancer-predisposing mutations and pioneered the use of liquid biopsies to identify circulating tumour cells and cell-free DNA.”
He will be missed by all who knew him as an open-minded person who never allowed his scientific success and reputation to change his fundamentally modest and generous character.