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Prof. Rainer Franke - Pioneer of "Theoretical Drug Design Methods

Prof. Dr. Rainer Franke, Foto: M. Fröbus, 1985

Rainer Franke was born in Dresden at 24 September 1938. After attending the "Kreuzschule" in Dresden and studying chemistry at the Technical University of Dresden (TU), he worked as an assistant and senior assistant in the chemical laboratory of the well-known hospital Dresden-Friedrichstadt from 1963 to 1970. During this time he also obtained his doctorate (Dr. rer. nat.) at the TU Dresden.

He then began his entry into academic research at the renowned Biochemical Institute of the Charité. At the same time, he obtained his Dr. sc. at the Martin Luther University in Halle, where he was also awarded the facultas docendi for biochemistry in 1974. In 1978 he was appointed Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Academy of Sciences of the GDR (AdW).

1971 marks the beginning of his involvement in the development of a focus on active substance research in the GDR. To this end, he took over responsibility for setting up the Molecular Pharmacology Group in the Drug Research Division of the Central Institute for Molecular Biology of the Academy of Sciences. In the Institute for Drug Research (IWF), which emerged from the Drug Research Department in 1976, he became head of the Theoretical Pharmacology Department, which developed into a nationally and internationally recognised focus.

Prof. Franke's basic idea is to develop the "quantitative structure-activity analyses (QSAR)" practised so far into "theoretical drug design methods". These should not only estimate the biological effectiveness of compounds that have not yet been synthesised, but also lead to conclusions about molecular mechanisms of action. This basic idea is documented in numerous publications, monographs, lectures and congresses, many of which have been held in Western countries. Examples include the monograph "Theoretical Drug Design Methods" published by Elsevier in Amsterdam in 1984 and his leading role in the "European QSAR conferences", e.g. as organiser of the "2nd Euro QSAR conference".  

For this reason, Prof. Franke and the department he headed at the Academy Institute for Drug Research were rated very positively in the evaluation by the Science Council of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990. International comments from that time describe him as a "recognised leader in the international QSAR community".  His work on multivariate data analysis was highlighted as "Pioneering the introduction of factor analysis and principle component analysis into the QSAR".

The unclear perspective of the Institute for Drug Research prompted him to found the independent company "Consulting in Drug Design (CDD)" in 1992. Together with his colleague DC Andreas Gruska, he developed this company into a recognised partner for both the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries as well as for basic research institutions. At the same time, he continues to be scientifically active with numerous lectures and publications, including as co-editor of "Computer aided drug design in industrial research" Springer Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 1995 and 2012.
As his health increasingly deteriorated, he ended this task in 2013.
In 2018 he moved with his wife Heidi Franke to her home town of Warin near Schwerin. There he died on 15 October 2021 after years of increasingly complicated health.

His former scientific partners at home and abroad, as well as his former colleagues, remember him as a high-performing scientist brimming with ideas. They will remember Prof. Rainer Franke as a pioneer of modern molecular-oriented pharmacology.

Prof. Peter Oehme     
Founding Director of the former                 
Institute for Drug Research

DC Andreas Gruska and Dr. Gerd Krause

 

Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie im Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FMP)
Campus Berlin-Buch
Robert-Roessle-Str. 10
13125 Berlin, Germany
+4930 94793 - 100 
+4930 94793 - 109 (Fax)
info(at)fmp-berlin.de

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