Prof Esterbauer worked in the field of lipid peroxidation for more than 40 years, and contributed substantially to our current understanding of this process. In particular, he discovered the lipid peroxidation product 4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal (HNE), although initially this was thought to be an 8 carbon aldehyde. Subsequently, his group carried out more detailed analysis to elucidate the structure, and developed a chemical synthesis of the compound. Prof Esterbauer was enthusiastic in supporting all research in this field and adopted an inclusive policy in providing samples of HNE to all interested researchers, thus underpinning a major expansion in this research topic worldwide. He was responsible for the development of analytical methods, and in later years became interested in the biological effects and signalling properties of HNE. Prof Esterbauer’s papers are some of the most highly cited in the field of oxidative stress.
The HNE-Club was founded on the occasion of a meeting on the Pathobiochemistry of 4-Hydroxynonenal (HNE) at the University of Graz, Austria, on September 28th 2000, which brought together some of the principal European researchers in the field of HNE at the time. The participants agreed that Dr. Giuseppe Poli(University of Turin, Italy) should act as co-ordinator.
The Club began initially with a regional meeting at Zagreb the following year, but rapidly expanded to an international meeting in 2002 in Salzburg. Early on the idea of an Esterbauer Award, to honour the memory of Professor Hermann Esterbauer, was conceived, and the first award was made at the 2002 meeting. Prof Peter Eckl took over as co-ordinator of the HNE-Club in 2006.
Since then, the International HNE-Club has expanded considerably, with members in most European countries, Japan, and the United States. Biennial conferences are organized in even years, recently as joint meetings or satellite meetings with other international societies, and have been hosted in Germany, Japan, and Italy.