In memoriam Prof.Dr. R.A. (Rob) Schilperoort
We received the sad news that on June 25, 2012 our former colleague Prof.Dr. Rob Schilperoort passed away.
After his PhD in Leiden Rob stayed in Leiden as a member of staff eventually becoming professor of biochemistry and head of department. His research was focused on the plant disease crown gall, which is caused by the soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Rob and his team were among the pioneers discovering the molecular mechanism by which this bacterium provokes the disease and could show that this was by way of a unique form of genetic manipulation of the host (the plant) by the bacterium. These findings gave birth to the fields of plant molecular biology and plant biotechnology. In Leiden the binary vector system was developed that is still in use worldwide today as the preferred vector system for the genetic modification of plants.
Besides leading a successful department Rob was a pioneer in the valorisation of the results of university research, for instance by patenting. Also he convinced government to invest in biotechnology as a technology with many promises for society and served for many years as chairman of the national Program Committee for Biotechnology. Also he was very active in attracting biotechnology companies to settle in Leiden and was one of the founders of the Leiden Bioscience Park.
Rob was founding Editor-in Chief of the international journal Plant Molecular Biology and co-founder of the International Society of Plant Molecular Biology (ISPMB). He was one of the pillars of the molecular plant sciences in Leiden and of the successful research school avant-la-lettre with Delft University of Technology in the area of biotechnology (Biotechnology Delft-Leiden: BDL)
Rob was also an excellent teacher with a great sense of humor.
But above all he was a great friend. We shall miss him very much.