ISAS - from foundation until today
The idea for the founding of a scientific research institute was the spontaneous result of a lecture given in Düsseldorf by the Dortmund physicist Professor Dr. Heinrich Kaiser on the 06.04.1951. A resume of his lecture was: ‘We can not afford to check our products less often, less exactly and in a more pedantic and expensive way than our competitors’.
Founded in Dortmund
Finally, in 1952, mainly as a consequence of this lecture, a research institute for ‘modern analytical chemistry with physical, mainly spectroscopic methods’ was founded, as was written into the statute of the registered society. It was named ‘Institute of Spectrochemistry and Applied Spectroscopy’, whose acronym ‘ISAS’ is correlating the original and the present designation. The definition of the institute’s task stresses the interdisciplinary character of the approach which has been ISAS specific throughout its history. With this ISAS carries on the tradition of the chemist Robert Bunsen and the physicist Gustav Kirchhoff whose cooperation was necessary to develop spectroscopy into a valuable tool for chemical analyses. In those days, in keeping with the original idea, the work at ISAS was strongly orientated towards the development of new apparatus and the technical realisation of results of basic research. Looking back at this period in ISAS history, there is a particular milestone in instrument development namely furnace-AAS which can now be found in world-wide use.
The early phase
Despite concentrated work on the development of spectrochemical apparatus for routine analysis, ISAS maintained its character as an institute for basic research. In the early period of the Institute this is documented in the work of Kaiser himself. His numerous fundamental mathematical-statistical contributions not only provided the tools for much of the Institute’s work but also formed the basis for spectrochemical analysis in general. His mathematically defined terms helped towards standardisation and international usage.
Joining the 'blue list'
With increasing technical developments in the subsequent years, instrument development slowly lost its high priority. Kaiser left the Institute in 1975 and there followed a long period under the provisional leadership of Professor Dr. Wolfgang Riepe and Dr. Karl Müller, which ended in 1980 with ISAS being incorporated into the combined financial support of the Federal and State Governments within the framework of the ‘Blue List’. In 1981 Professor Dr. Günther Tölg finally took over as Managing Director of ISAS. He gave the Institute a new, modern orientation and paved the way for a successful future. Tölg’s personal interests lay in extreme trace analysis and he always insisted on pointing out, with an almost missionary zeal, that modern challenges in analytical chemistry can only be resolved with strategy based on ‘multi-method concepts’.
Integration with Berlin
For research this means that not only is the development of new analytical tools with sufficient performance important, but also equally important is intensive work on strategic solutions to current and future analytical problems based on a multi-method concept in which all necessary tools are available for use. An example of fundamental work at ISAS is the development of hydraulic high pressure nebulisation and of diode laser atomic absorption spectrometry. In 1992 Tölg also succeeded in integrating the successful research group of the Zentralinstitut für Optik und Spektroskopie in Berlin into ISAS, which led to a major expansion of the research areas at ISAS.
A new concept
In 1995, the position of Managing Director was taken over by Professor Dr. Dieter Klockow. In 1997, Professor Dr. Kay Niemax was appointed as ISAS Director in a joint call with the University of Dortmund. He guided the Institute through the most problematic period from March 2000 to November 2003.
On December 1st 2003, Professor Dr. Andreas Manz of Imperial College, London, took office as Head of ISAS. With his visionary concept that focused on the area of Bioanalytics he established the basis for today’s scientific direction at ISAS.
A dual managment for ISAS
After Prof. Dr. Manz left the institute in May 2008, he was succeedes by Prof. Dr. Norbert Esser. Prof. Esser, who had been head of the Berlin department before, took over as managing director and as chairman of the society in June. In September 2008, Prof. Dr. Albert Sickmann joined ISAS as professor for "Applied Proteomics and Bioanalytics" after a joint appointment procedure with the Ruhr University Bochum. Prof. Sickmann started as head of the Proteomics department. His task was to focus the orientation of the institute towards the life sciences and to sharpen it's profile.
A structural reform and a new board
With the proceeding establishment of life sciences at ISAS, the heads of the institute and of the society decided to realize those parts of the structural reform that had been deferred before the recruitment of Prof. Sickmann. Thus, in 2009 there was another amendment to the articles of the society that included a clear commitment to a cooperative managment structure. Prof. Esser and Prof. Sickmann became scientific directors and were appointed to the board of managment together with the head of administration. At the same time, the amendment was employed for a further name change to end the confusing divergence between the name of the society and the name of the institute: Since 2009 the facility is uniformly named Leibniz-Institut für Analytische Wissenschaften - ISAS - e.V..
Moving to the campus of the TU Dortmund
At the end of October 2009 the new ISAS building on campus of the TU Dortmund was dedicated with a ceremonial act. By moving into the new labs, the life science groups at ISAS found a new homenear to the university and the institutes and companies in the vicinity. Since then, ISAS has been working at three sites in Dortmund and Berlin.
Much praise for ISAS
In September 2010, ISAS was again put to a test: The regular evaluation by the Leibniz Society came up. An external commission of international experts attested the institute to have high social relevance and to be unique in Europe. The goals for the next seven years are set: An even tighter network between the research groups and an intensive promotion of young scientists will the institute in the future.