FOR HIS OUTSTANDING SUCCESS IN SCIENCE COMMUNICATION WITH THE HELP OF HUMOR AND ENTERTAINMENT
Dr. med. Eckart von Hirschhausen has invented new forms of science communication – with major success. He conveys sciencebased knowledge with humour. His cabaret programmes, non-fiction books and TV shows are prooving that a combination of scientific substance and entertainment can reach millions of people. For pioneering this new type of science journalism von Hirschhausen will be honoured with the Eduard-Rhein-Kulturpreis 2020.
Born in Frankfurt/Main on 25th of August 1967, Eckart von Hirschhausen grew up in Berlin, where he attended the Schadow-Gymnasium. As a teenager he already collected jokes and learned magic, which both boosted his later career. After finishing high-school with an 1,3 exam Eckart von Hirschhausen studied medicine at the Free University (FU) in Berlin, later also in Heidelberg and London. During his studies he thrilled people as a magical and humorous street performer. His talent to entertain became obvious.
His time as „Arzt im Praktikum“ von Hirschhausen spent in the Kinderneurologie (child’s neurology) of the FU Berlin. He got his doctor’s degree in 1994 with „magna com laude“ for a thesis titled „Wirksamkeit einer intravenösen Immunglobulintherapie in der Hyperdynamen Phase der Endotoxinämie beim Schwein“.
Meanwhile Eckart von Hirschhausen decided to aim for science journalism as a profession. He enlisted for this course of studies at the Institut für Publizistik of the FU Berlin with Professor Winfried Göpfert teaching.
In 1995 he started his career as comedian and freelancer in science journalism. Eckart von Hirschhausen became Germany’s first cabaret artist with a focus on medicine. He – still – humorously conveys fundamentals as well as new medical insights. His latest and seventh solo programme is named „Endlich!“ (Finally!).
On stage he never teaches but is an authentical authority, who people listen to and believe. Von Hirschhausen makes his audience laugh and at the same time conveys important messages. At heart he still is a science journalist, but he reaches much more people with his newly conceived art form than conventional journalists in classical media.
Cabaret still is the basis for his work, even if he reaches an even bigger audience by his books and TV shows. The first of his up to now six non-fiction books was published by Langenscheidt in 2007 and was titled „Arzt-Deutsch / Deutsch-Arzt“. With a run of a total of more than five million copies Eckart von Hirschhausen is one of the most popular non-fiction authors in Germany. And mind you: There is always valid scientific knowledge and thorough research provided. Even if titles like „Die Leber wächst mit ihren Aufgaben“ stress the entertainment factor.
In the German television service ARD Eckart von Hirschhausen presents the science shows „Hirschhausens Quiz des Menschen“, „Frag doch mal die Maus“ as well as the documentary „Hirschhausens Check-up“. These programmes of Germany’s most known doctor reach millions of viewers. And the knowledge tranferred demonstrably even saves lives: Due to a TV story about reanimation several spectators could later on succesfully help sufferers and thus save their lives.
Since 2018 von Hirschhausen has even expanded his range. The publisher Gruner + Jahr releases „Dr. Eckart von Hirschausens Stern gesund Leben“ six times a year.
His succes story as the first German science cabaret artist has also inspired others to convey science with a wink. One example is Vince Ebert, whose cabaret programmes focus on physics and technology. He also is a successful author. The conclusion: Hirschhausen is a role model for science communication.
In excess to his career Eckart von Hirschhausen stresses honorary and social commitment. In 2008 he established the foundation „Humor hilft heilen“ (HHH) (humour helps healing), which has invested seven million Euros in projects for „Humanität in der Humanmedizin“ (humanity in human medicine) up to now. HHH gives clowns the opportunity to bring laughter into hospitals – for therapeutical reasons – and funds special trainings for doctors and nursing staff. Eckart von Hirschhausen is member of several advisory councils or patron e.g. for the Deutsche Krebshilfe, the Nationale Aktionsplan Gesundheitskompetenz, the Deutsche Bahn Stiftung, the Stiftung Deutsche Depressionshilfe and Ärzte ohne Grenzen (doctors without borders).
Since the hot summer of 2018 von Hirschhausen furthermore supports a climate policy based on insights of science and also medicine. He has signed up for „Scientists for Future“, is member of „Klimawandel und Gesundheit“ (climate and health) as well as founder of „Doctors for Future“.