Elsa Reiner (1930-2011)
Dr. Elsa Reiner, outstanding scientist with a high contribution to the enzymology of cholinesterases peacefully passed away in Zagreb on July 5, 2011.
Elsa Reiner was born in Osijek (in 1930), graduated at the University of Zagreb (in 1953) and obtained her PhD degree in chemistry (1962) from the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb. In 1954 she joined the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health where Elsa Reiner began her studies on mechanisms of cholinesterase catalysis and interactions of esterases with organophosphorus compounds. In 1967, she founded the Laboratory of Biochemistry and headed it almost until her retirement in 2000. Her research was primarily directed towards two groups of esterases: cholinesterases and paraoxonases. She studied their mechanisms of interaction with substrates and inhibitors. Part of her interest was also directed towards monitoring and distribution of organochlorine compounds in humans and in the environment. These studies were supported by the Croatian Ministry of Science, WHO and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). She had also been a member of the WHO Expert Panel on Vector Biology and Control for almost three decades.
During her long scientific career, Elsa Reiner was often a visiting scientist in institutes outside Croatia. At the beginning of her career, Elsa Reiner spent one year as a fellow at the Medical School of the University of Ljubljana, and thereafter two years as a fellow at the University of Heidelberg, where she received a scholarship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Many years later, Elsa Reiner obtained the "Alexander von Humboldt Medaille" award from the same Foundation for her contribution to scientific and cultural collaboration between Croatia and Germany.
Almost seven years, Elsa Reiner spent at the Medical Research Council Laboratories in Carshalton, UK, working with Norman Aldridge. This stay resulted in writing a book "Enzyme Inhibitors as Substrates: Interaction of Esterases with Esters of Organophosphorus and Carbamic Acids" (North Holland Pub. Co. Amsterdam, 1972) with Norman Aldridge, which is still considered a standard textbook by many who study enzyme kinetics and interaction between cholinesterases and organophosphorus compounds even many years after its publication.
Much of her time and effort was devoted towards the organisation of international meetings on cholinesterase and related enzymes; the first meeting being held in Split in 1975, and the latest which took place in Šibenik, 2009. At the previous one in Suzhou, China, Elsa Reiner obtained an award from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Chinese Academy of Sciences for her contribution to research of cholinesteases.
Elsa Reiner was an associate member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. She was also member of the Croatian National Research Council that plans and coordinates research in the country for two mandates.
Elsa Reiner greatly promoted the development of biochemistry in our country, and was a key person in founding the Croatian Biochemical Society. Among obtained numerous awards and recognitions two awards will be singled out here. The Croatian Parliament honoured her with the "Award for Life-Long Contributions to Science" in 2001 and the Croatian Ministry of Science with the "Rudjer Bošković Award for Natural Sciences" in 1973.
All of us who were fortunate to work with Dr. Elsa Reiner remember her as a brilliant scientist and uniquely caring, insightful and candid human being. As persistent and meticulous in science she was supportive and encouraging outside the lab. Working hard and remaining scientifically active until her peaceful passing she earned every bit of respect that she enjoyed worldwide. She was a true ambassador in science never hesitating to show love for her country that she represented so flawlessly for years.
She was a happy person who loved and enjoyed fully the work she excelled in. We will remember and greatly miss her for her unstoppable enthusiasm, perfection and support.
in memory to E.R. her collaborators