Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Ungethüm passed away on August 4 at the age of 78. He was Chairman of the Management Board of Aesculap AG for 19 years and a member and Vice Chairman of the Management Board of what is now B. Braun SE from 2000 to 2009.
Management and staff are deeply saddened and mourn the loss of a highly esteemed personality who successfully shaped the Aesculap surgical division and the company's headquarters in Tuttlingen for decades and played a pivotal role in driving Aesculap’s integration into the B. Braun Group.
Thanks to him, Aesculap made a great leap forward to become a globally operating medical technology company that continues to be market leader in traditional instruments and has also moved into new biomedical fields such as endoprostheses. The customer service sector was expanded and cooperation with the scientific community intensified.
In 1977, Michael Ungethüm joined Aesculap AG. Under his leadership, sales increased by 20-times. He managed the company's business for more than three decades. He was very attached to and supportive of the region of Tuttlingen. He fullheartedly promoted art, culture and the church. Through his broad commitment, he was one of the best-known heads of the southwestern German entrepreneurial elite.
"Prof. Michael Ungethüm was the pioneering personality in our Aesculap division. His exemplary commitment to the further development of our surgical product range had a blessing effect on the large field of medical surgery. Ungethüm was an entrepreneur with heart and soul, with a great social ambition. He remains unforgotten by many employees. We remember him with great respect. Our deepest condolences are with his family," said Prof. Ludwig Georg Braun, former Chairman of the Management Board and Supervisory Board of B. Braun.
"Professor Ungethüm's creative energy, entrepreneurship and foresight helped shape Aesculap into a medical device company with a global reach. The innovations he initiated, whether in neurosurgery, orthopedics or spine technology, still serve countless people around the world every day. The employees at Aesculap owe it not least to him that they still have a secure job today, even in difficult times. Aesculap is the lifetime achievement of Professor Ungethüm. We are deeply saddened by the loss his death means for B. Braun and its entire workforce," said Dr. Jens von Lackum, Chairman of the Executive Board of Aesculap and member of the B. Braun Management Board responsible for the Surgical Division.
Ungethüm was born in Munich in 1943. After completing an apprenticeship as a machinist, he earned his university entrance qualification through a second-chance education and studied business administration and mechanical engineering in his hometown. In 1976, he received his doctorate in engineering from the Technical University of Aachen, followed by his habilitation at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in 1977. After several years as head of the biomechanics laboratory at the Orthopedic Clinic and Polyclinic of the LMU, he joined Aesculap AG in Tuttlingen in 1977 as head of research and development and was appointed a full member of the Executive Board in 1979. In 1983, he was named spokesman of the board, and a year later, he became an associate professor at LMU. Finally, in 1990, he was appointed Chairman of the Executive Board of Aesculap AG. In 2000, he was appointed Vice Chairman of the Management Board of B. Braun Melsungen AG. He retired in 2009.
He held numerous mandates in the fields of business, research, art and culture. In 2000, he received an honorary doctorate from the Medical Faculty of the Freie Universität Berlin, and in 2014 he was honored with the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Phrases such as "Progress and further development can only be achieved through knowledge and research" and "To create long-lasting impact in the field of medicine, you have to assume full entrepreneurial responsibility”" are characteristic for his attitude and passion. In his 15 years as Chairman of the Board of the B. Braun Foundation until January 2020, he worked to sharpen the view of physicians and nurses to act more economically. As a scientist and medical technology expert, Ungethüm has been particularly active in encouraging researchers in the field of medical technology. He has underlined this support since August 2003 with the non-profit Ungethüm-Aesculap Foundation.
Another highlight of his work was also the founding of the Aesculap Academy initiated by Prof. Ungethüm and Prof. Braun with the construction of the Aesculapium in Tuttlingen in 1995. The revitalization of the Langenbeck-Virchow-Haus in Berlin in October 2005 as an additional location was another milestone in the development of the Aesculap Academy into one of the world's leading educational institutions for the continuing education and training of physicians and medical staff.With Michael Ungethüm, the B. Braun Group loses a great personality.
In addition to his wife Monika, he leaves behind two children and five grandchildren.