November 20th 2020

In Memoriam: Prof. Dr. Lygia Therese Budnik

With great sadness, the Collegium Ramazzini announces the death of Professor Lygia Therese Budnik a very engaged Fellow of the Collegium since 2014. Lygia passed on November 20, 2020 after her long, valiant battle with cancer.

Lygia Therese Budnik was an accomplished pathobiochemist and toxicologist, having devoted much of her academic career to broad questions related to environmental and occupational health. She did her PhD at the Department of the Physiological Chemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Hamburg, Germany in 1990. In 2004 she gained Venia legend status (Associate Professor/ DrSci) at the School of Medicine, University of Hamburg and in 2013 became Professor at the University of Hamburg. She was head of the Translational Toxicology and Immunology Unit at the Institute for Occupational and Maritime Medicine (ZfAM), University Medical Center, Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) from 2006 till 2019.

Professor Budnik was for several years an active initiative leader of the Global Plan of Action of the UN Health Council (GPA) for the transport sector within the framework of the WHO CC Collaborating Centres for Occupational Health focusing on environment-and occupation health-interactions and preventive measures.

Professor Budnik was the initiator, mentor, “engine” and chairperson of the EU-COST-Action project DiMoPEx (Diagnosis Monitoring and Prevention of Exposure Related Non-communicable Diseases) and of the charity European Society for Environmental and Occupational Medicine (EOM) aiming to strengthen independent, interdisciplinary basic biomedical research on emerging new environmental work-related health problems. These, as well as a number of other projects and initiatives were shaped by her large scientific fund of knowledge, her innovative thoughts, her keen mind and highest ethical standard.
In her active service to the scientific community, she was a member in several national and international panels on diagnostic method validation and related development of guidelines.

She was one of the initiative leaders of a task force “Effect Biomonitoring” of the German Research Council, DFG Senate Commission on Hazards in the Workplace (MAK commission). She coordinated several research projects from the German Ministry for Education and Research, BMBF, aiming to develop strategies for the measurements of industrial pollutants and coordinated related research projects such as from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. Her further research spotlights were diagnostic methods for sensitizing or toxic chemicals in the workplace and in the environment, i.e. isocyanates, genetically modified enzymes, metals, solvents and fumigants.

With a high empathy for patients, Professor Budnik was always interested in how sound scientific reasoning and evidence gathering are undermined through compromised scientific enquiry. Therefore, in addition to her science pursuits she co-authored publications on ethical aspects of risk communication and the influence of lobbying groups. She was involved in developing approaches on how to expose self-interest over the public interest in medicine, science and public health.

Lygia was a gem, brilliant and with beautiful spirit, a brave soul, and a lovely person, full of honesty, great inspiration, contagious enthusiasm, a real humanist, always motivating us as well as her students, coworkers and scientists around her.
We lost a great scientist with important contributions to our field, a strong fighter for scientific integrity, an inestimably devoted colleague and best friend.

We have to honor her great work and will remind others of her integrity, capacity for joining all of us for science in a very friendly atmosphere. Our obligation is to further her passionate example.



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