Honorary rector Andreas De Leenheer has passed away

(21-11-2022) The former rector of Ghent University passed away at the age of 81. He left an indelible mark on the university.

Professor Andreas De Leenheer was born in Zele on 16 May 1941.

On 5 July 1963, Andreas De Leenheer graduated as a pharmacist. From 1 August 1963, he started his career at the State University of Ghent (Rijksuniversiteit Gent, former name of Ghent University) as an assistant and was appointed first assistant in 1967. In 1968, he was promoted to PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences. From 1969 to 1970 he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (USA); and in 1971 he obtained an aggregate for Higher Education in Pharmaceutical Sciences. In October 1971, Andreas De Leenheer was appointed lecturer.

After his study stays at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI, USA), Andreas De Leenheer returned to his alma mater and brought a breath of fresh air to a faculty that was catching up in terms of research. He introduced the cutting-edge analytical technology he had mastered in the US and actively recruited PhD students, who had to concentrate mainly on research. He considered international publications the best way to disseminate the results of this research. This led to the development of successful research in his lab and the organisation of a series of international conferences on mass spectrometry.

Professor Andreas De Leenheer was promoted to full professor in 1977 and full professor in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1981. From 1972 to 1992, Professor Andreas De Leenheer was director of the Medical Biochemistry and Clinical Analysis Laboratories, from 1984 to 1993 director of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Laboratories.

He was dean of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences from 1984-1992, chairman of the Department of Bioanalysis from 1992-1998, vice-rector from 1997-2001 and rector of Ghent University from 2001 to 2005. His contribution there is multiple but he will still be remembered as the one who put PhDs and international publishing high on the university agenda.

Professor Andreas De Leenheer was open to scientific challenges in various fields but gained the most fame in the area of bioanalysis of fat-soluble vitamins, resulting, among others, in a widely acclaimed series of books on this multifaceted subject. In an era when PhDs, apart from the purely academic, were much less the norm, 26 and 4 PhD and Higher Aggregate dissertations, respectively, were completed under his supervision. He received numerous scientific recognitions, was a member of many scientific societies, could look back on a very large number of publications and was the editor of several scientific books. He was also promoter of 4 honorary doctorates including Dr RS Yalow, Nobel Prize in Medicine '77.

Research was his passion. From that passion, he scientifically educated many young people and was proud of the fact that four of his 'pupils' in turn became professors in his faculty. Besides his scientific and policy-related work for Ghent University and many national and international scientific associations, Andreas De Leenheer was intensely occupied with music (piano).

He was granted emeritus status on 1 October 2005.

Professor Andreas De Leenheer passed away on 20 November 2022. The funeral will take place on Saturday 26 November 2022 at 9 am at Westlede Crematorium, Smalle Heerweg 60 in Lochristi.

Online obituary register.