by Eberhard Deisenhammer
Franz Gerstenbrand is 90 years!
Franz Gerstenbrand’s curriculum vitae is well known and can be read in the Archive of the EFNS. You can find there also other contributions on and from him in the Archive chapters “History”, “Presidents” and “Honorary members”.
After he had finished his medical studies, he was a young assistant and later “Oberarzt” and Professor at the University Clinic for Neurology and Psychiatry in Vienna, of which the chair was the famous Professor Hans Hoff.
When Professor Hoff had come back to Austria after his time in exile in the USA, he had found in Franz Gerstenbrand an enthusiastic and eager doctor who became more and more interested in the neurological field.
Professor Hoff had been able to learn about neurology and the various sub-aspects while in the USA. Germany and Austria at that time had been excluded from these findings as the Nazi boundaries didn’t allow scientific knowledge to find its way to Austria.
In Vienna, Professor Hoff established a neurological development and integrated it in his department, for instance neuro-radiology, paediatric neurology, neurological nuclear medicine, to mention just a few. Franz Gerstenbrand took up all these ideas and started for instance a department for head injured patients.
Later on, as head of the Neurological University Clinic in Innsbruck, Franz Gerstenbrand continued such activities and the Innsbruck University soon was able to present a special department for neurological intensive care, a stroke unit, and the NMR institute which was led by Franz Gerstenbrand’s assistant. All these developments had an important impact on neurology in Austria.
From his Viennese period Franz Gerstenbrand continued to keep his good contacts in politics and administrations running, which enabled him to influence neurological impact in the Austrian health system.
He still is a very active person with international contacts and continues especially his connection to the Danube Neurology Symposium, as well as to Eastern European and Asian countries. At home in Austria, he supports and encourages scientific activities regarding space neurology, and ethics in neurology.
When looking at all the national and international interests of Franz Gerstenbrand regarding the field of neurology, it is not surprising that he first founded the Danube Symposium in 1962, and later on in 1991 together with the intensive support of Lord Walton (President of the WFN at that time), a Neurological Society to enhance and spread neurological knowledge within Europe – the EFNS.
And while writing this article I tried to catch him on the phone and reached him in Abu Dhabi, where he is in his position as Head of the Karl Landsteiner Institute for Neuro-rehabilitation and space-neurology, and this shows me that his batteries are still charged and he will continue to devote his life to Neurology.
Happy Birthday Franz!
Further activities of Franz Gerstenbrand are:
Honorary Presidency of the Danube Symposium of Neurology, WFN special interest group (SIC) for space and underwater neurology and WFN SIC for Neuro-ethics, World Federation of Neuro-rehabilitation – SIC for Neuro-ethical demands and restorative neurology, close co-operating with the Neurological University Clinic Salzburg, co-operation with a Slovakian Child –Neuro-rehabilitation centre, as well as Russian space medicine.