Ernst J. Zingg (1931-2016)

Wed, 18 May 2016

It is with sadness that we note the death of Professor Ernst J. Zingg, 84, on 27 February 2016, a pioneer in modern European urology.

Zingg, born 27 July 1931, spent his youth in Zürich, Switzerland and graduated from medical school in 1956. As a resident under pathologist Prof. H.U. Zollinger, Zingg obtained an in-depth education in soft tissue anatomy and the morphology, behaviour, and patterns of metastatic spread of malignant tumours. He was mentored as a surgeon by Professors A. Brunner and A. Senning, two of Switzerland’s best thoracic, visceral and cardiovascular surgeons.

Zingg began his urology training programme in Zurich under Prof. G. Mayor, the first urologist to establish an independent urology department in a Swiss university. In 1965, Zingg was appointed senior physician and at age 38 served as division chairman and later as urology department head at the University Hospital of Berne (Inselspital), where he was chairman from 1971 until his retirement in 1994. His profound knowledge of modern urological surgical procedures, his expertise in visceral and thoracic surgery and excellent surgical skills ensured Zingg’s professional success as a urologic surgeon with a reputation that is known beyond Switzerland.

Zingg and Mayor co-authored the textbook Urologic Surgery, which became the standard reference book in the German-speaking part of Europe, was translated into Spanish and English. He organised well-attended urology meetings and in the 1970s, when they were still novel, he presented live demonstrations of urologic surgery techniques with moderators and participants directly interacting with the surgeons. He also pioneered radical prostatectomy and radical cystectomy, the latter procedure one of his expertise.

Zingg was a recipient of the St. Paul’s Medal of the British Society of Urology, the Maximilian Nitze Medal from the German Society of Urology and an honorary European Association of Urology (EAU) membership. He succeeded Mayor in 1982 as EAU treasurer, a position he held until 1994.

Zingg took early retirement following a diagnosis of irreversible neurologic disease. His wife, Monika, provided him with loving in-home care.

His former colleagues and students are grateful for his mentorship and will cherish his memory and legacy.

-By Urs Studer, Daniel Ackermann and George Thalmann