History & Thanks

The idea of writing the first edition of this book came to me on 1 September 1994 in Paris during a conference at the World Organisation for Animal Health, OIE. Two years later, inspired by the following passage from Goethe’s Faust the project began in earnest:

Oh, happy, he who still can hope
To rise from this chaotic sea of errors!
What you don't know, is always what you need
And what you know, you have no use for.

After the successful publication of the German-language edition, and as BSE continued to spread around the globe, the editors made the decision to publish an English-language edition in order to reach more scientists and decision-makers.

The scientific fascination of prions and prion diseases was the motivating force in publishing this book. From the very beginning, our goal was to present the historical dimension as well as the scientific, medical, veterinary and practical viewpoints on prions, their resulting diseases and their containment. Given that these fields are closely interwoven, the task of bringing the whole project together has been a complex one. I am proud to say that this goal has been achieved and a solid and scientific source of information has now been realized for the second time.

The book is intended to be a unified text and not just a collection of individual contributions. The first section of the book deals with the fundamental historical, medical and scientific background, while the second section focuses on the practicalities of the subject. The book demonstrates the complex interactions of the many facets of prion diseases. The extensive text is interspersed with numerous detailed figures and tables.

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to all those who took part in the realization of this mammoth project, throughout the writing of which there has been an excellent esprit de corps.

First of all, I thank my co-editors, Hans and Detlev for their unfailing support during my time devoted to the completion of the present and prior edition.

Furthermore, I have had the pleasure of working with 80 internationally-renowned co-authors from 58 different institutions. I wish to express my sincere thanks to each and every one of them.

Scientific reviews were carried out by a group of excellent specialists listed below, who checked the quality of content. By contributing their knowledge, the book has become very much a joint oeuvre. My very special thanks go to Stuart C. MacDiarmid and Michael P. Alpers.

In particular, I would like to thank Jutta Bachmann and her team in Norway for their excellent support in translating numerous chapters of the present book. The cooperation with her was characterized by her expert knowledge of the subject matter as well as by an unparalleled cordiality. I could not have envisaged a more suitable institution than Bachmann Consulting to have worked on these scientific texts.

I also wish to thank various other institutions and colleagues who offered their support in many different ways. Further thanks go to the writer of the introductory text, Nobel laureate Werner Arber. My special thanks also go to the publishing house Walter de Gruyter, in which we have been fortunate to have found a most competent publisher; particular thanks go to Wolfgang Böttner, Stephanie Dawson and Marie-Rose Dobler.

It has been an honor to oversee the project from its conception. The realization of this and the former edition (Prionen und Prionkrankheiten, 2001) made my role as chief editor a rewarding experience. This venture has only been possible with the help of my family. Therefore, I thank Eva Hörnlimann-Kürsteiner and our children Fabian Hörnlimann and Nadine Hörnlimann from the bottom of my heart.

Beat Hörnlimann
Chief Editor