Lives of the fellows

Alex Fritz Muller

b.29 August 1921 d.31 May 2006
MD Zurich(1948) FRCP(1988)

Alex Muller, professor of medicine at the University of Geneva, was considered one of the fathers, if not the father, of clinical investigation in Switzerland. He acutely recognised the importance of mutual understanding between the medical, research and political worlds. He was born in St Gall, Switzerland, the son of Fritz Muller, a merchant, and Clara Muller-Risch. He was educated at St Gall High School, and then studied in Lausanne, Geneva and Zurich, graduating in 1946 with a diploma in medicine from Zurich.

He then spent a year as an assistant in the Institut de Pathologie in Geneva, working with Edwin Rutishauser, and then, from 1947 to 1949, was an assistant in the Institut de Chimie Physiologique in Zurich, working with Franz Leuthardt, where he gained his MD. During this period he spent some time in London, at Hammersmith Hospital.

In 1950 he went to the United States, working under Walter Bauer at Massachusetts General Hospital, and as a teaching fellow and research associate at Harvard Medical School.

Four years later, he returned to Switzerland, becoming a resident and then an assistant professor at the Clinique Médicale Thérapeutique, University Hospital, Geneva. In 1960 he became a professor and, from 1970 to 1990, was director of the department of medicine at the faculty of medicine in Geneva. During this time, he constructed a first class department, a model replicated in other faculties of medicine in Switzerland. In 1991 he was made an honorary professor at the faculty of medicine and a year later, in 1992, received an honorary MD from the University of Geneva.

He took part in the creation and activities of many foundations and held many posts within the Swiss scientific and medical establishment. Of his positions of responsibility, from 1964 to 1976 he was a member of the research council of the Fonds National Suisse de la Recherche Scientifique. On his initiative, a subdivision of clinical research was established, a subject close to his heart. From 1968 to 1969 he was vice president, and then, from 1970 to 1971, president of the Comité de la Société Suisse de Médecine Interne. From 1988 to 2001, he was president of Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale de Genève, and from 1993 to 1996 president of the Académie Suisse des Sciences Médicales, an organisation which aims to bring together academic and practical medicine, as well involving the public.

Outside Switzerland, in 1967 he was a foundation member of the European Society of Clinical Investigation. In 1980 he spent eight months at the Howard Institute for Physiology and Experimental Medicine at Melbourne University, and in 1984 he was a visiting professor at Guy’s Hospital in London.

A charismatic leader, he was an exceptional teacher and a talented organiser. His colleagues knew they could go to him for help and advice, and had no hesitation in approaching him. He was known for his humanity and was a generous and loyal friend.

Outside medicine, he fished and skied with passion. In 1949, he married Marguerite-Yvonne Tschäppät, known as ‘Mousie’ to her friends. They had three children, François, Pierre-Yves and Martine Valérie. He died at Geneva University Hospital.

(Volume XII, page web)

<< Back to List