Universität WienAn Historical Tour of the University of Vienna

Archiv der Universität Wien



The Vienna Faculty of Medicine has been in existence since the foundation of the University in 1365. It was in the reign of Maria Theresia that it first achieved world-wide significance. It attracted Boerhaave's pupil Gerard van Swieten from Leiden to Vienna, and it was he who reformed the teaching of medicine and laid the foundations of the first Vienna School of Medicine. It was home to such distinguished figures as Anton de Haen, Maximilian Stoll, Lorenz Gasser, Anton von Störck and Leopold von Auenbrugger - the inventor of (anatomical) percussion. From this time on particular importance was attached to bedside teaching. The General Hospital, which was opened in 1784, together with its various clinics gradually became the most important centre for medical research in Vienna. The many great figures who worked here established the worldwide reputation of the second Vienna School of medicine in the 19th Century. Particularly important were the following: Karl Rokitansky (1804-1878), Josef Skoda (1805-1881), Ferdinand von Hebra (1816-1880), Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (1818-1865), Ludwig Türck (1810-1868), Johann Nepomuk Czermak (1828-1873), Leopold von Dittel (1815-1898), Theodor Billroth (1829-1894), Hermann Nothnagel (1841-1905), Rudolf Chrobak (1843-1910), Adolf Lorenz (1854-1946), as well as the winners of the Nobel Prize for Medicine Karl Landsteiner (1868-1940), Robert Bárány (1876-1936) and Julius Wagner-Jauregg (1857-1940).

Lit.: Erna Lesky, Die Wiener Medizinische Schule im 19. Jahrhundert (Studien zur Geschichte der Universität Wien im Überblick 6, 1965); Gabriela Schmidt, Die Wiener Medizinische Fakultät und das Allgemeine Krankenhaus. In: Universitätscampus Wien, Band 1: Historie und Geist, ed. Alfred Ebenbauer, Wolfgang Greisenegger, Kurt Mühlberger (Wien 1998) 7-35.


Theodor Billroth in the Lecture Theatre

In 1867 Theodor Billroth (1829-1894) became head of the 2nd Surgical Clinic at the General Hospital in Vienna. In 1881 he performed the first successful resection of a pyloric cancer in a human being. This stomach resection in its two variants (Billroth I and Billroth II) marked the beginning of abdominal surgery. As the most gifted surgeon of the latter 19th Century Billroth was teacher and model for a vast number of students who subsequently attained worldwide importance. (Original painting by Adalbert Franz Seligmann, in the Austrian Gallery, Vienna)


The Professors of the Vienna Faculty of Medicine, 1849/50

This picture contains portraits of some of the most important professors of the Vienna medical School of the 19th Century (from left to right, seated): Dumreicher, Skoda, Rokitansky, Rosas, Schuh, (standing:) Dlauhy, Hebra, Helm, Oppoltzer, Brücke, Haller, Unger, Redtenbacher, Sigmund, Hyrtl. The University of Vienna achieved worldwide recognition in this period in the area of medical research. Almost all of those portrayed here were of influence in the school. (Original lithograph in the Archive of the University of Vienna)