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Döhler grew up in Rochlitz and East Berlin. In 1958, his family fled from the GDR to Bremerhaven (then Port of Embarkation for the US troops in Germany). After graduating from a classic-languages school he joined the German Navy and from 1968 through 1974 studied medicine in Kiel with a break in Hamburg and Heidelberg.
He is married to his second wife, Marlo Döhler (born Kröpelin). He has two daughters and a son from his first wife, Engel von Bülow.
In 1976, Döhler was awarded his doctoral degree at the University of Kiel. He was trained in pathology (L.-D. Leder, Essen), surgery (G. Heinemann, Minden) and orthopedics (W. Blauth, Kiel) and achieved the acknowledgement as orthopedic surgeon in 1983.
In March 1984, he went to Edinburgh and did clinical work at the Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital and, with a grant of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Council), performed basic research at the University of Edinburgh (Sean P. F. Hughes).
In August 1985 he returned to Kiel, and three years later he moved to the University of Münster for spinal surgery (H. H. Matthiass). In 1990, he quit cold orthopedics and re-embarked on (trauma) surgery in Hamburg-Altona. There, he achieved his second acknowledgement as general surgeon (1992) and finished his habilitation with the neuroanatomist Werner Lierse.
After German unification in 1995, he was appointed head of the then new hospital in Plau am See, Mecklenburg (former GDR). His department was the first in Germany to officially combine hot and cold orthopedics, and the first in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with a unit for hand surgery (from 1998).
Döhler operated on children from Africa and Central Asia for the Friedensdorf International and, on behalf of the Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future, on former Nazi slave laborers from Poland and Ukraine.
Döhler was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh without Examination in 1999. In academic terms, he was attached to the Berlin Charité (1996), and in January 2006 he was made a professor at the University of Greifswald.
Since January 2008, he has been employed by the Berufsgenossenschaftliches Unfallkrankenhaus in Hamburg.
For becoming a reserve officer Döhler joined the German Navy in October 1967. While studying medicine he had his military training in the Territorials[clarification needed]. A staff surgeon since 1979, he also served frequent times in the German Navy. In 1993 he was promoted to his last rank, Surgeon Captain (OF-5). In spring 1994 he was a distinguished visitor to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Virginia. From 2003 to 2007 he was commander of a Reserves regiment.
While living in Mecklenburg, Döhler was active as a classical pianist and appeared with another pianist, singers and orchestras. His Mecklenburger Ärztetrio (Mecklenburg Doctors Trio) was coached by a cellist from the Berlin Philharmonic.
A member of the academic Corps Masovia, he has long been dealing with Königsberg, the former capital of East Prussia, and has a special interest in academic fraternities. In 2009 he was elected chairman of the association for corpsstudent historical research. In 2010 he became an associate member of the Historical Commission for East and West Prussia.
- with S.P.F. Hughes: Fibrous dysplasia of bone and the Weil-Albright syndrome. International Orthopaedics, 10, p. 53-62, 1986
- Verletzungsfolgen an Bewegungsapparat und Wirbelsäule (Sequelae of trauma). In: A. Reichelt (Ed.), Orthopädie. Stuttgart 1993 ISBN 3-432-25201-3
- Lexikon orthopädische Chirurgie (Lexical textbook of orthopaedic surgery). Berlin (Springer) 2003 ISBN 3-540-41317-0
- Brauchen wir neue Hüftendoprothesen? (Do we need new hips?). Chirurgische Allgemeine 7 (2006), S. 471-475
- M. Liehn, I. Middelanis-Neumann, L. Steinmüller, J. R. Döhler (Ed.): OP-Handbuch. Grundlagen, Instrumentarium, OP-Ablauf (Handbook for OR staff), 4. ed.. Berlin, Heidelberg (Springer) 2007 ISBN 978-3-540-72269-4
- Corps Masovia, München (Aventinus) 2005 ISBN 3-00-016108-2
- Der Deutsche Idealismus und das Corpsstudententum, in: S. Sigler (Ed.) Freundschaft und Toleranz. 200 Jahre Corps Bavaria zu Landshut und München, München (Akademischer Verlag) 2006, S. 183-188 ISBN 3-932965-86-8
- Der Seniorenconvent zu Königsberg. Ostpreußen und seine Corps vor dem Untergang (Königsberg and East Prussia between the World Wars). Einst und Jetzt: Teil I - Bd. 52 (2007), S. 147-176 ISSN 0420-8870, Teil II - Bd. 54 (2009), S. 219-288 ISSN 0420-8870
- Siegfried Schindelmeiser: Die Albertina und ihre Studenten 1544 bis WS 1850/51 und Die Geschichte des Corps Baltia II zu Königsberg i. Pr. (1970-1985). (The Albertus University and the Corps Baltia). Erstmals vollständige, bebilderte und kommentierte Neuausgabe in zwei Bänden mit einem Anhang, zwei Registern und einem Vorwort von Franz-Friedrich Prinz von Preußen, herausgegeben von R. Döhler und G. v. Klitzing, München 2010 ISBN 978-3-00-028704-6
- Säulen Preußens - 59 Corpsstudenten als Oberpräsidenten preußischer Provinzen. Einst und Jetzt 55 (2010), S. 143-148 ISBN 978-3-87707-781-8
- "Regio-Klinik verpflichtet Unfallchirurgen". Hamburger Abendblatt (in German). 2008-01-10. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
- "Professor Rüdiger Döhler gab Empfang" (PDF). Plauer Zeitung (in German). 2006-02-15. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
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