Heinz Furthmayr, MD, of Los Altos Hills, an emeritus professor of pathology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, died of a heart attack on May 1 while on a trek in the Dolpo region of Nepal two days before his 71st birthday.
Born in Linz/Austria, he attended medical school in Vienna and then embarked on an academic research career that led him through the Max-Planck Institute in Munich to Yale University and in 1989 to Stanford. A clinical and experimental pathologist whose work advanced the understanding of the organization of the body’s connective tissue, Furthmayr contributed vital insights into the immunological and structural properties of various collagens, the composition and structure of basement membranes, the structure of membranes of red blood cells and the role of the membrane cytoskeleton in cell movement. He retired in 2005, and had since spent five months a year traveling. He learned Spanish in Central and South America, took extended overland trips through Asia, trekked extensively in Nepal and Tibet, and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro twice. He piloted his own plane and went scuba diving around the world. When at home, he interacted in many helpful ways with the Los Altos Hills neighborhood and his two godchildren in Palo Alto.
He is survived by his wife, Uta Francke, emeritus professor at Stanford, of Los Altos Hills, and three sisters, four brothers, his mother, numerous nieces and nephews, all in Austria or Germany.
A public memorial service will be held July 26 at 4 p.m. at Stanford Memorial Church.