We have the sad duty to communicate the death of Professor Eberhard Deisenhammer, a pioneer in neurology and a long-term secretary general and treasurer of the European Federation of Neurologic Societies.
Prof. Deisenhammer was born on June 2nd, 1933 in Vöcklabruck, Austria. He obtained his MD degree (doctor medicinae universae) at the University of Innsbruck in 1958 and performed his training in Neurology and Psychiatry at the later Landes-Nervenklinik Wagner-Jauregg which is now known as the Neuromed Campus of the Kepler Universitätsklinikum. During this time he also spent a 1-year fellowship at the Neurological Institute, Columbia University, New York, headed by Prof. Houston Merritt. He received the title of “außerordentlicher Universitätsprofessor“ in 1978, and in the same year he became director of the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Neurophysiology at the Landes-Nervenklinik Wagner-Jauregg. In 1992 he also became chair of the Department of Neurology at this hospital which he maintained until his retirement in 1998. Thereafter, he continued to be professionally active for many more years and held among others the position of medical director of the Jesuitenschlößl, a hospital for rehabilitation in Passau, Germany.
During his career and in his different positions, Prof. Deisenhammer has contributed enormously to the development of neurology not only in his hospital but all across Austria. With his visionary mind he foresaw the various contributions of neuroimaging in the management of neurologic diseases and helped to develop these further. Early on he recognized the need for dedicated stroke units, and under his directorship interventional stroke treatment including intra-arterial thrombolysis was offered long before the positive results of multicenter trials. He was also instrumental in developing epilepsy surgery together with neurosurgery and importantly, all these activities still are a mainstay of the Neuromed Campus in Linz, which was started to be rebuilt during his chairmanship.
Prof. Deisenhammer was also very active in developing and promoting neurology at international level. He was a cofounder of the European Federation of Neurological Societies (EFNS) and served this society as General Secretary from 1992 to 2001, and as Treasurer from 2002 to 2007. After the fusion of EFNS with the European Neurologic Society (ENS) in 2014, he served the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) as archivist until 2016.
With his death we have lost a true pioneer and life-long fighter for neurology in the interest of his patients. We will also remember his important contributions to our specialty on a “neuropolitical level”. We want to join his family with our feelings of sadness and compassion.
Univ.-Prof. Dr.med.univ. Franz Fazekas
Correction 24.4.2018: The birthday has been corrected and Professor Deisenhammer’s title within EAN was ‘Secretary General’ instead of ‘General Secretary’.