You are on page 1of 16

In Memoriam

Prof. Dr. Karsten Krohn

My personal insight of a Brilliant, Charming, Helpful and Dedicated Organic Chemist

From left: Odile, Prof. Krohn and yours truly during the Christmas Party Celebration of the RCNS, UST in Dec of 2001

How I came to know Prof. Dr. Karsten Krohn

The history of science tells us that most of the famous chemists emanated from the great nation of Germany and Prof. Karsten Krohn was definitely one of them. His stature as a highly respected university professor, resolute researcher, caring theses adviser, strong partner of foreign scientists and his numerous eminent publications in reputable journals all attest to his luminous reputation and solid devotion to organic chemistry. And so I consider myself as one of the most privileged and truly fortunate people who have personally known and worked with Prof. Dr. Karsten Krohn. He was also a very big blessing to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) whom he visited in 2001 as a Guest Lecturer of Advanced Organic Chemistry offered by the Graduate School. Even today, his influence can still be felt in UST through the testimonies of several multi-awarded academics which directly or indirectly were assisted by him in the advancement of their profession by way of higher degrees, research experience and worldclass publications.

The first personal communication I had with Prof. Karsten Krohn or as he would usually abbreviate his name fondly as KK in our email correspondences came in 1999. It was a positive reply from him to my first yahoo email inquiry on the possibility of doing a research visit in his chemistry department in Paderborn University. Actually, I knew of Prof. Krohn from my first trip to Germany in Braunschweig way back in 1988 when I believe it was Dr. Victor Wray, resident NMR Spectroscopist of GBF who personally mentioned Prof. Krohn to me. After my 3month course in the International Training Program (ITP) of Industrial Biotechnology at the GBF in 1988, I still wanted to do more work on bioactive microbial natural products. In fact the research project that I completed with 3 other ITP participants as a group was on the production, purification and characterizations of the bioactive microbial metabolite: Myxin from a Myxobacter sp. And so I was scouting for another research institute to visit after my short 3-month stint at the GBF. Dr. Wray told me of Prof. Krohn who he said is already wellknown for his extensive work on bioactive natural products from fungi. However, after the ITP course at GBF I was not able to send a letter of inquiry to Prof. Krohn and I went back home to Manila. That desire of mine to work with Prof. Krohn slept for over 11 long years. Finally, in December of 1999 that interest to work with Prof. Krohn awakened. I finally sent him a yahoo email inquiry; thinking that if I dont get a reply from Prof. Krohn due to my long hesitation, it will just be ok with me. Someone said, I believe it was Marie Osmond that it is better to try and fail than never to have tried at all. Surprisingly, that try bore good news and a lifelong research interest on the study of bioactive microbial metabolites. I got a prompt and warm reply from Prof. Krohn informing me of an available space in his lab at Paderborn University for 3 months commencing in September of 2000. My flight, fright and fight hormone shot up when I read the good news. With feelings of euphoria, I immediately emailed and thanked Prof. Krohn for accepting me to work in his lab. With less than a year more to go, I felt stressed as I still have plenty of work to do in preparing my microbial extracts to be brought to Paderborn. Since Prof. Krohn worked mainly with fungi, I informed him that I was working with streptomycetes which are mould-like bacteria that are known producers of numerous biologically active compounds like antibtiotics. After screening several streptomycetes that were isolated from soil samples within Metro Manila, several showed potent broad antimicrobial activities against bacteria and fungi. To facilitate the preparation of my samples, I requested him if I can do the production, isolation and characterization of the bioactive compounds in Paderborn University. I was so happy when he agreed to my request because it lessened tremendously the work that I still have to do in the UST Research Center. Yet again, I requested the DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service for a 3-month research visit grant which I entreated as a Return Visit on account of a special privilege as a former DAAD scholar in 1992 - 1993. The grant should fund my round-trip plane fare and accommodation in Germany. Needless to say, DAAD immediately awarded me the scholarship grant that made possible my trip to Paderborn in 2000. Indeed, I am eternally grateful and always appreciative of what the DAAD has done to me and to many of my teaching colleagues in UST in the attainment of their higher degrees through all these years. I hope and pray that DAAD will continue its noble and virtuous service of providing assistance to deserving academics from the developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America. The year 1999 came to a close and the much hyped end of the world due to the Y2K bug did not happen.

My Fourth Trip to Germany

In the last days of August 2000, the day of my departure for Germany finally came. I was driven to the Airport one late and traffic-busy afternoon by my good friends and teaching colleagues at the University of Santo Tomas (UST). Two of my friends arrived at my rented studio in Maria Cristina Street, Sampaloc which was of walking distance to UST. Sheila de Jesus and Bong Alejandro fetched me and drove me all the way to the airport from my rented place. Bong was seated beside Sheila while I sat at the back. Sheila owned and was also driving the car. An unforgettable incident happened, as we were navigating and about to exit the narrow single lane street of Maria Cristina, a loaded passenger jeepney entered and blocked our path. The jeepney was probably looking for an alternative route to escape the heavy traffic. I got nervous as the jeepney seemed in a position of not budging in to our cars exit. OMG, I said to myself, I needed to be in the airport fast to catch my flight to Frankfurt. When the jeepney did not seem to be going anywhere, Sheila de Jesus alighted from her car and shouted at the jeepney driver to back-off. I was astounded at what Sheila just did; I dont know if I can also do what she did at that instance. With some help from above, the jeepney driver who saw what he was up against with, a pretty but fearsome lady driver, instantly backed off and allowed us to freely exit. To this day, I am indebted to Sheilas bravery otherwise I would not have made it in time for my departure. We arrived in the airport in the nick of time due to the heavy traffic and after the moving hugs and goodbyes, Sheila and Bong left me and they drove back to UST. In a hurry and with thankful prayers, I checked in and after several hours of flying via Lufthansa over the vast Eurasian continent, I soon arrived in Frankfurt. My plane landed in the heart of Europe at dawn, it was an event that I experienced several times before with so much fondness. I consider Germany my second home and so I had no worries in manoeuvring myself in the immense Frankfurt Airport and onwards to Paderborn. Immediately I exited the airport for a few minutes to carry out a simple ritual. Outside, with the main gate of the airport behind me, I looked up and greeted all the tall, shiny and mighty buildings of Frankfurt in front of me. The grand view represented to me the majestic economic power of the great German nation and then I deeply inhaled the cool fresh air and exhaled a heavy misty puff. After that personal ritual of mine of paying my respect to Germany, I swiftly went back inside the airport and secured my connecting flight to Paderborn. Speaking basic German gave me the full confidence to talk to the beautiful and the kind people around me. Based on the number of times that I have been in Germany, I honestly find the people of this country most attractive, warm, friendly, helpful and very accommodating to strangers.

Meeting Prof. Krohn in Paderborn

Paderborn is a small, cosy, modern, very catholic and cultured city nestled in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The catholic identity of Paderborn goes all the way back to the citys being founded as a bishop-supervised diocese by Emperor Charlemagne the Great in 795 A.D. When I arrived in Paderborn, the airport officials checked the contents of my luggage and found a red metal box containing all my samples in small vials. I got tense telling them that the vials were for research purposes for I knew that due to its technical nature, they will surely be suspicious of what they were. As I was explaining to them with difficulty what those vials were,

my rescuer: Prof. Krohn arrived. He saw me and then talked to the airport officials with much authority and in an instant he whisked me out of the airport. With feelings of much relief, I was so happy, privilege and thankful to finally meet Prof. Karsten Krohn for the first time in person. What I appreciated at the start was his strong grasp and firm handshake which is hard to come by these days with most people you meet. Next were my first impressions of him: a charming and cheerful German, athletically built, very receptive to what youre saying and also very friendly. From someone who was born in the cold regions of northern Germany he was surprisingly warm and nice. He grabbed my luggage which I found so heavy to carry and hoisted it inside his car without much effort. His car was an impressive BMW and it made me so excited because its going to be the first time in my life that I will ride in this luxurious car. Though I know that I will never own a BMW, Hollywood movies, advertisements and my magazine readings have made BMW the best brand of car for me. By the way from my previous visit to Germany in 1988, I had the chance to ride in Mercedes Benz taxis from Hannover to Braunschweig and back. We travelled for a few minutes out of Paderborn to his house located in the emerald countryside of Brchen, a nice and bucolic town where Prof. Krohn and his wife Odile lived. Brchen is located some way off to the south of Paderborn. Odile is French and was probably named after the famous character of the popular ballet Swan Lake. I found her to be a strong-willed and courageous woman who is somewhat opinionated but we got along well. Odile settled in Germany when she married Prof. Krohn. They both have a son and a daughter; both are already working professionals, which unfortunately I never had the chance to meet when I was in Paderborn. Prof. Krohns house is big and attractive by German standards with a spacious green backyard. Soon Prof. Krohn introduced me to Odile and their friendly dog called Jacky. Jacky was so jolly she was jumping all over me when I first met her. I brought several gifts for the Krohns, foremost were the boxes of dried mangoes which Prof. Krohn loved very much and some Filipino designed handicrafts. Next he brought me to their spacious backyard with trees where we had a lengthy talk of the work that lies ahead. From my DAAD stipend, I stayed and rented the basement of the house of Prof. Krohn in the duration of my 3 months research visit. My rented place had a big comfortable bedroom with a double-sized soft bed, a big TV on a large table and a shelf of books. It also had a well-furnished kitchen where I did plenty of cooking and a large clean bathroom. Odile regularly provided me with towels. The bedroom, kitchen and bathroom have windows that presented a view of the scenic Brchen neighbourhood. My rented place in the basement had a separate entrance with flight of stairs that go down to my front door. It was a nice place, with peaceful and wonderful vicinity, very secure and most of all you feel so close to nature due to the abundant trees and unique gardens full of colourful flowers and cute dwarves. The closest bus stop to my rented place in Brchen was a 10 to 15 minutes walk away. In front of the bus stop across the street is ALDI, Germanys major chain of grocery stores, it was where I bought my foods, my regular supply of Hohes C juice and other provisions on my way home from the university. Odile prepared dinner for us and because of my exhaustion from the long trip went to my soft and comfortable bed early in the evening. The following day while still experiencing a jet lag, I woke up early and Prof. Krohn drove me to Paderborn University and instructed me on the buses that I must take to reach the university located on the other side of the city. Prof.

Krohn woke up early and will always travelled to Paderborn University on his bike. It was so remarkable of him to do so since I knew of no professors in Manila who will travel to their respective universities on a bike. In Germany it is possible due to its safety and majority of students do it every day on their way to school. In the citys downtown area, I bought a map of Paderborn to guide me on my day to day travel and to get to know the city better. So each day I took the bus which in Germany provided a very comfortable and quick ride to your destination.

My laboratory Work in Paderborn University

The modern and fully equipped laboratory which Prof. Krohn headed is located in the upper floors of a tall building. It also has many rooms and laboratories providing serious research work to graduate students and technicians in the field of organic chemistry specifically microbial natural products. You need to take the elevator to reach the department. Prof. Krohn, being a Professor, has a big office for himself and he supervised several research projects. He assigned me to one of his Ph.D. students named Natalia Root. Natalia is a pretty, iron-willed and intelligent graduate student from the Ukraine working for her doctoral degree in organic chemistry. In one of our coffee breaks, I vividly remembered discussing with Natalia that I love the symphonic music of Modest Mussorgsky called Pictures at an Exhibition. The grandiose music particularly the ending tells the tale of the witch: Baba Yaga flying in a mortar through the great gate of Kiev, the capital City of Ukraine. I asked her if there is really a great gate of Kiev and she said, there was exactly as what the music portrayed in all its glorious notes. Natalia was also a hardworking natural products chemist. After I produced my fermentation broth cultures in several large Erlenmeyer flasks for many days, she guided me in my purification work, partitioning my broth extract into the hexane and ethylacetate fractions. The fractions were concentrated in their big and sophisticated rotary evaporator. Subsequently, I assayed the numerous fractions for their antimicrobial activity in another laboratory located in a neighbouring building. All the students were very bright, friendly and accommodating. Aside from Natalia, there were two other Ph.D. students in the chemistry lab where I was assigned by Prof. Krohn. There were other graduate students in other laboratories which I got to know well during our daily 15 minute coffee breaks in the morning and afternoon. Since there was no microbiology lab in the department of Prof. Krohn, he sent me to another department where there was a small microbiology lab equipped with a small autoclave, an incubator, a sturdy linear shaker, a biological cabinet and a refrigerator. Right away, Prof. Krohn bought the culture media, chemicals and petri dishes that I told him I needed for my research work. Since I will be doing antimicrobial assays, I also needed a complete array of test microorganisms representing the microbial world. In the microbiology lab, I was provided with two bacteria: Escherichia coli and Bacillus megaterium, gram-negative and gram-positive rod-shaped bacteria respectively. To complete my test organisms, I believe that I still needed a yeast and a filamentous fungus which they did not have in the microbiology lab. So equipped with my knowledge of microbiology, I isolated my yeast: Saccharomyces cerevisiae from Bakers Yeast which I bought from a local grocery store. The fungus I obtained from the green mouldy bread which I got in my kitchen quite often, it is from

the genus called Penicillium. Finally my set of 4 test microorganisms is complete from bacteria to fungi from prokaryotic to eukaryotic from unicellular to multicellular organisms. I did the assay of my fractions as well as the fractions of some of Prof. Krohns graduate students in the Microbiology Lab. One time, I felt so honoured when he made a surprise visit in the Microbiology Lab and looked with much amazement at the results of my work particularly the large inhibition zones that were produced by the assayed extracts against the test organisms growing inside my agar plates. For Prof. Krohn, he usually did not see the results of the antimicrobial assay of his fungal extracts nor the fungi themselves because the assay is done by his microbiologist collaborators from another university which I believed was the Technical University of Braunschweig (TUB). Attached to this document is a published article of the research work that I completed in Paderborn University. It was published in our universitys local but ISI listed and BIOSIS tracked journal called Acta Manilana. In Manila in 2002, I was asked by the Director of the UST Research Center for the Natural Sciences: Prof. Maribel G. Nonato, Ph.D. if I can write a paper on the work that I did at Paderborn University and that I should also inform Prof. Krohn about it. At first I was hesitant to write it and include Prof. Krohn as co-author for I thought that Prof. Krohn with his high ranking papers might not allow himself to be the co-author in a simple work that will be published in our local university journal. Again I was wrong, when I sent Prof. Krohn the draft and informed him of its publication, he liked it, made some corrections and gave his all-out go signal for me to include him as my co-author in the paper. I felt so privileged and elated by Prof. Krohns reply. Incidentally, Prof. Krohn met Prof. Nonato when he visited UST in 2001 and she tendered a dinner for the Krohns in one of the evenings they were in the university. In the Microbiology Lab, I met another German student called Thrsten, who was pursuing his Diplom Arbeit comparable to a masteral thesis. His name is unique because I vividly remember him said that the diminutive name for Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is Thrsten. Indeed, in the movies if ever a boyish marvel hero for Thor will ever be made, he must be named Thrsten. This naming system is like the Spanish diminution of a boy called Miguelito and for a man called Miguel. He was my companion in the microbiology lab and he is the friendliest and most accommodating student that I ever met in Paderborn University.

The Memorable Trip to Soest

One morning in the 26th of September 2000, Prof. Krohn took me to something out of the ordinary. We travelled to lovely Soest, a nearby city to Paderborn, to attend the 3rd Conference on Harmful and Beneficial Microorganisms in Grassland, Pasture and Turf. Soest is located some way off to the southwest of Paderborn. We took the early morning train ride which was so memorable for I took notice of Prof. Krohns peer-reviewing some papers for publication in a journal. After looking at him with deep admiration, I asked him what the verdict was for the paper and like a Roman Emperor he gave the thumbs down meaning the paper was rejected for publication. If my memory served me right, I believe the paper was from Mainz. Deep inside I pitied the corresponding author of the paper. Well thats how it is in science I said to myself, you win some you lose some. Surely other journals will accept it for

publication. When we arrived in Soest, the weather was quite rainy in the morning but turned warmly sunny in the afternoon on our way back to Paderborn. We somehow got lost on our way to the conference venue so I remembered Prof. Krohn asking some help for direction from a construction worker who we met along the way. He started with the German way of starting a question with a stranger with the friendly shouts of Hallo! Hallo! I considered it a very neat way of catching the attention of strangers. Prof. Krohn soon brought me to the facade of a big and imposing church. He stretched out his right hand, touched the very walls of the church and proudly described to me that the glistening green sandstone that makes up the building is unique to the city of Soest. That was surely the exceptional feature of Soest that stuck to my mind to this very day. We finally reached the conference venue and it has already started. One of the speakers named Barbara Schulz spoke perfect English with an American accent. With the exception of Prof. Krohn and some who knew her, many of us were surprised as to how she can speak such fluent American English. Subsequently, when she was asked by someone of her facility with the English language and with an American accent, we found out that she was actually from Ohio but stayed and worked in Germany when she married a German. That was when I got to know Dr. Barbara Schulz, a busy and brilliant mycologist working as a researcher in the Technical University of Braunschweig (TUB) and a closed research collaborator of Prof. Krohn.

Meeting Dr. Barbara Schulz Again in Braunschweig

The next time I met Dr. Barbara Schulz was in a more up, close and personal setting. That was when Prof. Krohn asked me to bring some algal specimen to her in Braunschweig. Prof. Krohn told me that he and Odille collected the algae from the coast in northern France. With much excitement, I agreed to carry out the mission for it will be my chance to visit Braunschweig again. Braunschweig was the first German city that I visited way back in 1988 during my ITP course at the GBF. During that time in 1988, I heard of TUB but never got the chance to visit the university. So this time around, I can finally visit TUB. I believe that it was in October 2000 when I travelled by train from Paderborn to Braunschweig to meet Barbara. When I arrived in Braunschweig, English translation is Brunswick, I was amazed to see that the train station has changed so much becoming more spacious and modern. Surely it was a big improvement from 1988. Taking the bus I arrived in TUB, I looked for and found Barbara and gave her the algae. Then, she gave me a tour of her lab devoted to mycology research and to the biological assays she utilized in her work. The lab was impressive for the sophisticated instruments and the extensive work that they are conducting on the production and characterization of bioactive metabolites from endophytic fungi. It was during that visit to Dr. Schulzs lab that I first came to know of endophytic fungi. After the long tour and discussion, we both sat down in a bench facing the vibrant campus of TUB. That was when I found the opportunity to ask her if she could accept Tom, a former student and a teaching colleague, to pursue his Ph.D. in TUB. Tom was already in contact with a German Professor working with photosynthetic bacteria for his PhD but unexpectedly the professor retired and Tom was left hanging with no professor who can supervise him for his PhD. I vividly remembered that I was so happy to hear Barbara said, Yes, if you recommend Tom we will take him in. The rest as what they say is history for my former student: Thomas Edison dela Cruz, who is now the

current chairperson of the Department of Biological Sciences of UST. He became so popular and won numerous awards for his pioneering research works on endophytic fungi in the Philippines. Late that afternoon, I thanked Barbara, bid her farewell and travelled back to Paderborn. It was already dark when I arrived in Paderborn but it was well worth the long trip. It left me with wonderful memories of the visit to Braunschweig and of Barbara and of the beautiful German countryside. When I met Prof. Krohn I was so pleased to tell him that it was mission accomplished. Moreover, I felt proud that I was able to successfully travel to Braunschweig from Paderborn and back without getting lost and without encountering big problems along the way.

Dr. Barbara Schulz giving a lecture and conducting a training course in mycology during her visit to UST in 2011

In 2011, I was so pleased when Tom who already successfully earned a PhD from TUB informed me that our beloved Barbara is coming over to the Philippines. OMG, I said to myself it has been 10 long years since our unforgettable meeting in TUB way back in 2000. Tom was able to arrange her visit to Manila in behalf of an invitation from the Philippine Society for Microbiology (PSM) and he also secured a travel grant for her to conduct a one-week training course in mycology in UST. She was invited to be one of the plenary speakers for the annual convention of the Philippine Society for Microbiology (PSM) when it was held in Cagayan de Oro. PSM is one of the biggest and the most prestigious life science organization in the Philippines devoted to Microbiology. In May 2011, Barbara who was Toms direct research adviser in TUB, arrived in Manila and Tom booked her in a hotel that was located close to UST. He and his graduate students took charged of entertaining and dining her out in the days of her arrival. On one of the weekdays during Barbaras mycology training course in UST, I took charged this time of dining her out with Tom, Dr. Alicia Aguinaldo, Dr. Cora Menguito and Dr. Emerita Simeon. Dr. Emerita Simeon also met Prof. Krohn when he taught at UST in 2001. We went to a restaurant located in West Avenue, Quezon City and talked about so many things which definitely included Prof. Krohn.

Barbara told us that Prof. Krohn has retired from his teaching post in Paderborn University and has transferred residence from Brchen back to Braunschweig. When Prof. Krohn lived in Braunschweig years before Paderborn, he was actually teaching at TUB. With all the fun filled but hot and humid moments in the Philippines, I am sure Barbara enjoyed so much her unforgettable stay in the Philippines. Barbara's training course was successfully conducted; it was so well attended by many teachers and researchers from USTs neighbouring universities and research institutions. After her training course, she flew to Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao to deliver her plenary lecture in the annual convention of the Philippine Society for Microbiology (PSM). On her last day in Manila after returning back from Cagayan de Oro, we gave her several packages of Philippine dried mangoes which she like Prof. Krohn loved so much. I also gave her some packages of dried mango for Prof. Krohn and Odile since the Krohns have already settled back in Braunschweig at that time and that was where Barbara lived as well

From left: myself, Prof. Thomas Edison dela Cruz, PhD (Current Department Chairperson) and Asst. Prof. Ma. Sheila de Jesus (Microbiology Coordinator) during a thesis defence last Feb. 2013.

Prof. Krohn made me so much at home in Germany, he brought me one Sunday to a classical chamber music performance knowing that I love classical music especially from the great German classical music composer: Johann Sebastian Bach. At Paderborn University, he also invited me to listen to the lecture of a guest researcher: Dr. Kirst, an organic chemist from the US Eli Lily Company. The lecture was on Erythromycin, Eli Lillys most successful and number 1 commercial product and he also gave a lecture on a novel metabolite from a Streptomyces species that exhibited insecticidal activity against mosquitoes. In the evening, upon the invitation of Prof. Krohn, it was fortuitous for me to have joined them in that dinner held at the Patio of the house of Prof. Krohn. That was when I personally met Dr. Kirst and his wife both of which were special guests of the Krohns. It was fortuitous because the talk during our dinner turned out to be quite controversial. I brought up the issue that the microbial

producer strain of Erythromycin which made Eli Lilly very rich actually came from the Philippines yet not a single centavo returned back to the Philippines. Prof. Krohn was proud of his birthplace in Schleswig Holstein in Northern Germany and he also has high regards for the Philippines. I realized that he knows much about the Philippines. There was one instance when I got into an argument with one of the German students because he said that the Philippine islands were collectively very small compared to Germany. When I told Prof. Krohn of this, he asked me to tell him who this student was. Subsequently, he found out whom and he talked to the student and explained to him that the Philippines is almost as big as Unified Germany and bigger than the whole of West Germany. Well, I guess the student learned some lessons from an organic chemist in the field of world geography! During weekends (Wochenende) and Long Thursdays (Langer Donnerstag), I would usually go to the city to visit the churches and to do my grocery and at times, do some window shopping in the numerous malls in Paderborn. The cathedral in Paderborn is large and looked very sacred with its magnificent gothic architecture and many people attended mass in the cathedral during Sundays unlike in other churches. As November 2000 came, when the weather was getting much colder, I needed to wind up my work and write a report of my research visit to Paderborn University and turn it in to the DAAD. In the day of my departure from Germany, Prof. Krohn and Odille were out of town and they cannot bring me to the airport. So they requested their friend which lived across their house which I also got to know in one of our dinners to drive me to the Paderborn Airport. This old friend of the Krohns told me once that for him, the Philippines is located on the edge of the known world. He can surely say that again for in a way he was correct, to Europeans the vast Pacific Ocean covering almost half the globe lies beyond the Philippine archipelago. From Paderborn I flew to Frankfurt and while in Frankfurt something truly unexpected happened. As I was strolling in one of the vast floors of the airport, someone called me sir, sir. OMG, I said to myself only a former student of mine will call me sir. And I was correct, he was a former BS Chemistry student of mine working with the large German Company Bayer. Can you imagine, I was surprised to meet him in Germany among all so many places back home in the Philippines. His name is Dante, he was with his group of company employee and they were also on the same flight as mine back to Manila. With the support from Bayer, they were flying first class and so I never met him again when we boarded our Lufthansa plane and when we arrived in Manila. It was because first-class flyers get out of the plane first. That flight was memorable because that was the first time I flew via Lufthansa direct from Frankfurt to Manila. Before, there was usually a stopover in either Bangkok or Singapore.

Prof. Krohn and Odile in UST, Manila; The Philippines

In the early part of 2001, I believe it was February, a teaching colleague and a close friend of mine: Prof. Alicia Aquinaldo asked me if I know of a popular foreign chemist who can be invited to be the plenary lecturer in the coming annual convention of the Natural Products Society of the Philippines (NPSP). The annual convention of NPSP is always held in December. Instantly, what came to my mind was Prof. Karsten Krohn since he worked with natural

products derived not from plants but from endophytic fungi. That will surely be a distinctive moment for NPSP since all their prominent members were phytochemist (plant chemist). When I mentioned this to Alice she immediately brightened up and agreed with much elation that Prof. Krohn was indeed the best choice as plenary speaker for NPSP. Immediately we started working and Alice and I coursed the formal invitation to the DAAD so that Prof. Krohn could be given a travel grant. Again the rest is history; Prof. Krohn was awarded a travel grant by DAAD which made me once more thankful to the DAAD for making possible his trip to the Philippines. For its part, UST provided the Krohns with a 3-week accommodation at the Domus Maria which is an exclusive in campus housing for the universitys visitors. So in the first days of December 2001, Prof. Krohn and Odile arrived in Manila from Frankfurt via Singapore Airlines. My twin brother and I with his van, fetched Prof. Krohn and Odile at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Once again, I was so happy to see Prof. Krohn and Odile in person but this time I cant believe that it was in Manila. My brother drove us from the airport to UST, where Prof. Krohn and Odile stayed at the Domus Maria in-campus Guest House. We arrived in UST at pass 10:00 PM and the lights of the campus were already out, it was also so dark and 3 of 4 major gates were closed. Upon reaching their big and special room accommodation in Domus Maria, they unpacked their luggage. Unexpectedly, Prof. Krohn, like a typical German, inquired if we can go out and I meant out of the security of the UST campus to buy some cold beers. OMG! I said to myself, the gate to P. Noval which is closest to Domnus Maria was already closed and its very dark walking in the campus. But like a gallant host I gave in to his request and accompanied Prof. Krohn out of the campus into the quiet streets along P. Noval. With a foreigner beside me, I prayed hard that no harm should befall us from criminal elements. The university guard let us out and luckily we were able to buy cold beer in cans in one of the deserted sari-sari store that was still open at that time. In haste we paid the beers and hurriedly returned back to the security inside the UST campus. Prof. Krohn and I were so happy upon drinking the cold beer in their room and he was quite impressed on the good quality of our local San Miguel beer. As a Filipino, I felt proud that a very discriminating beer drinker like Prof. Krohn enjoyed our local San Miguel beer. Every now and then, I dropped by at the Domus Maria to check is ok with them and to provide them some provisions like bottled water, milk, snacks, toiletries and sundries. In the following days, I fetched them after their breakfast and brought them to the College of Science to meet Prof. Alicia Aguinaldo who was really responsible in making his trip to the Philippines possible. They both enjoyed their first meeting and that was the start of a very fruitful academic collaboration. As part of Prof. Krohns courtesy call, he also met the various academic officials of the university namely Dean Gloria de Castro-Bernas, Dean Lilian J. Sison, Prof. Fortunato Sevilla, Prof. Maribel G. Nonato and the respective chairpersons of each department like Assoc. Prof. Milagros del Callar of the Biology Dept. and Prof. Cora Menguito of the Chemistry Dept. Prof. Krohn stayed for 3 weeks in UST as a visiting professor. He taught Advanced Organic Chemistry to a big class with tight daily schedule, morning and afternoon sessions, for the Graduate School of UST for 2 weeks and spent the remaining week on an exclusive vacation with Odile in the Matabunkay Beach Resort in the province of Batangas. A funny but nerve-wracking incident happened according to Odile on their way to the Matabungkay Beach Resort which lies to the south of Manila. After Prof. Krohns finished his course on Advanced

Organic Chemistry, he and Odile were ready to travel to Batangas to enjoy a one-week vacation. Their trip to Matabungkay was booked through a famous hotel in Makati and from that hotel they were to be brought to Matabungkay. One late afternoon when they were about to leave UST on their way to the hotel in Makati, the Domus Maria guard unknown to the Krohns thought that they were flying back to Germany and told their driver to take them to the airport. In obedience to what the Guard told him, the driver drove their car fast to the airport. Luckily Odile soon realized that they were being driven to the wrong place, she was seeing wide open spaces instead of the tall and crowded buildings of cities. She said that the place they were brought into was typical of the wide areas of an airport. Instantly the frightened Odile tried talking with the driver that they were supposed to go to Makati and not to the airport. The driver noticed his mistake, turned around and brought the Krohns to Makati in the nick of time. Prof. Krohn and Odile reached Matabungkay and both truly enjoyed their one week vacation together truly on their own. They must have known and booked for the Matabungkay Beach Resort while they were still in Germany. One of Prof. Krohns students named Allan Patrick Macabeo in the advanced organic chemistry class who was also a former student and thesis advisee of Prof. Alice Aguinaldo was able to complete his PhD in organic chemistry in Regensburg. According to Prof. Krohn, Allan was best student in his class. After finishing his PhD, Allan together with Prof. Aguinaldo and Prof. Krohn went on a collaborative research work and many of their results were published in some of the good journals in the field of Natural Products Chemistry.

The Krohns and I in Nayong Pilipino

On their first Sunday in Manila, I was privileged to have volunteered of taking the Krohns out for their dining and entertainment. I decided to bring them to a famous park known as Nayong Pilipino. This theme park when it was still in existence in 2001 gave a grand overview of the different provinces of the Philippines and their unique cultures. So in one afternoon, it was like the Krohns visited all the major provinces of the entire Philippines. We happily moved from exhibits to exhibits of the different provinces relishing their cultures, costumes, dances, souvenir items and their food specialties. After Nayong Pilipino, I brought them to my rented condominium in the 30th floor of the Espana Tower which was a 15 minutes ride to UST. From the height of my rented room, they saw a grand view of the Sampaloc municipality, UST and far on to Manila Hotel and of course the famous Manila Bay. We settled down and took a light snack that I prepared for them which I believed was Spaghetti Bolognese. In the following week days, it was the turn of the other academic officials to bring Prof. Krohn and Odile for dinner. So the Krohns were introduced to various Filipino cuisines and cultures associated with the various well known Filipino restaurants. Prof. Krohn remembered happily the night, Prof. Lilian J. Sison, Dean of the Graduate School and Prof. Fortunato Sevilla, Assistant to the Rector for Research brought them to a restaurant in the Luneta National Park where you see and choose the live fishes and lobsters from aquaria that you can have for dinner. Prof. Krohn enjoyed that special restaurant very much because you first get to see live what you will have for dinner. During daytime while Prof. Krohn was holding classes, my younger teaching colleagues: Thomas Edison dela Cruz and Mike Valdez, both are now PhD holders from Germany and my other co-teachers and their students entertained Odile. They brought her in

the various parks and luxurious shopping malls found in Manila. Odile got upset when I told her once not to go out of the UST campus alone because being a lone foreigner can make her a target for pickpockets or snatchers. One time, I remembered her proudly telling me that no harm came to her went she went out alone of the campus and explored the surrounding streets of UST. A day before Prof. Krohn and Odile ended their visit to the Philippines, I brought them to Makati. This neighbouring City of Manila is the Philippines most opulent and famous business district. Together we dined in one of the best restaurants in Glorietta and we talked about their wonderful experience in the Philippines. I gave them their special sweet snack to be brought to Germany which were several boxes of dried mangoes. According to Prof. Krohn which he mentioned to me several times, the Philippine mangoes are the best in the world for its unique and wonderful aroma, texture and sweetness. I also told them to share with their friendly neighbour some of their mangoes, the one who I met several times and who drove me to the airport on my departure day in Paderborn. Indeed, the Natural Products Society of the Philippines (NPSP) was deeply honoured by the plenary lecture delivered by Prof. Krohn on bioactive microbial secondary metabolites from fungi. The single day annual convention was held in the newly built Thomas Aquinas Research Complex in UST and many students and academics from other universities participated as well. During the convention, Sofia McFarland, the reporter from the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) of the Asia-Pacific Young Inventors Awards was also around to interview Prof. Krohn regarding me and my invention on the use of paper-disc immobilized microbial bioluminescence for the simple and rapid detection of toxicants in drinking water. Sofia found the opportunity to interview the very busy Prof. Krohn at around lunchtime of the convention. Since the convention was held in the special month of December which was also Christmastime, a cold wonderful weather was at hand. There were many festivities and merriment that were readily apparent in the Philippines during this time of the year. The Philippines is a country proud of its longest Christmas celebration in the world. Prof. Krohn and Odile had plenty of fun attending the various Christmas parties held in the different departments and units of the university. Indeed, it was so auspicious that the Krohns came over to the Philippines in the month of December. We all enjoyed the singing and foods aplenty and the exchanging of gifts typical of Christmas parties.

Christmas Time with the Krohns in UST

As Christmas day approached quickly, Prof. Krohn and Odile left for Germany in one early morning during a Misa de Gallo held at the UST Grandstand just beside Domus Maria. In the Philippines, the Misa de Gallo constitute the nine days early morning masses starting on Dec 16 and ending on December 25. They flew back to Germany a few days before Christmas day. How I wished they could still have stayed in the Philippines till December 25 but I guessed that will be selfish on my part for they also need to be with their families, their children on Christmas day. Years after in 2005, Prof. Alicia Aguinaldo through a travel grant from the French Embassy in Manila attended a chemistry conference held in France which was organized and attended by Prof. Krohn himself. Prof. Aguinaldo told me that Prof. Krohn and Odile were so kind to have invited her and a group of Japanese chemists to stay with them in their house in northern France. They were provided their own rooms and had the chance to

enjoy the very best of the way of life in the French countryside. She told me that it was a wonderful and unique experience for her to have enjoyed the hospitality of the Krohns in France.

Dr. Alice Aguinaldo wearing her academic regalia in one of the commencement exercises at UST.

The Very Sad News

After sometime, we heard that Prof. Krohn had retired from his academic posts at Paderborn University and settled back in Braunschweig. Prof. Aguinaldo and I were also informed that Prof. Krohn somehow fell ill and then we heard the bad news recently from Odile that Prof. Krohn passed away. The news was followed early this year, by a formal card from Odile and a short letter containing the date of the passing away of Prof. Krohn. Indeed, I became despondent and was filled with utter sadness when I heard that Prof. Krohn passed away for I know that I will miss him profoundly. Though Prof. Krohn was able to retire from his academic responsibilities before his death, it was still a time too soon for him to pass away at an early age of 69. Because of the high standard of living in Western Europe, many Germans lived to be in their 80s or even 90s. Prof. Aquinaldo, Allan and myself decided to buy a special mass card in the UST Chapel for Prof. Krohn and sent it promptly to Odile. As Catholics, we prayed for the granting of eternal rest and the shining of perpetual light on Prof. Karsten Krohn in his afterlife. There was a time before his death, when I was so happy to see his Facebook entry. We both befriended each other but he did not anymore answer some of my Facebook questions and greetings I sent him. It made me feel somewhat saddened for he was not the Prof. Krohn that I knew who will immediately answer back. In fact when I sent him a photo of my first bioluminescence illuminated Christmas Tree in history in November 2007, he gave a very long, encouraging and jolly feedback. In closing, I am thinking of the wonderful times we spent together in Germany in 2000 and in the Philippines in 2001. On the lighter side, I tried to remember the smiles and laughter of Prof. Krohn and his reassuring fatherly presence whenever we travel together. We, here in

UST, the academics he touched, will always be thankful of the numerous blessings that we received for having known him in person. In fact, I heard last week from Prof. Aguinaldo who I met accidentally in the corridor of the College of Science that the research visit of the current chairperson of the Department of Chemistry: Dr. Mario Tan to Dsseldorf late last year in 2013 was from the recommendation of Prof. Krohn. We will always cherish the wonderful moments we spent with Prof. Krohn for he moved our hearts with his charming attitude and for contributing to a superb change to our life in the academe. I dont think we will meet another scientist like Prof. Krohn for he is truly one of a kind in being a bright, charming, helpful and dedicated organic chemist who is ever so willing to extend his helping hands to others. His numerous students and thesis advisees who now occupy strategic positions in teaching and research institutions in various parts of the world and his foreign research collaborators will continue to carry on his lasting and unique legacy of what it was like to work with Prof. Krohn in advancing the knowledge of natural products chemistry. His published papers in various well-known journals will continue to be cited in various scientific literatures by other researchers and will endure in inspiring future generations of brilliant students to pursue a profession in chemistry and to specialize by way of a PhD in the field of microbial natural products chemistry.

Vielen Dank Prof. Dr. Karsten Krohn, wir werden Sie ganz vermissen