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MedUni Vienna mourns the loss of Hans Bernheimer

Former Head of the Institute of Neurology has died aged 86

(Vienna, 9 January 2017) Prof. Hans (Hanno) Bernheimer was born in Vienna on 5 February 1930. He attended Vienna Academic Grammar School and studied human medicine at the University of Vienna. This was followed by a two-year stint as a clinician at the Kaiserin Elisabeth Hospital in the City of Vienna. He then joined the University of Vienna's Pharmacological Institute, where he worked as a doctor and researcher from 1957 to 1965.

In 1966, neurologist and neuropathologist Prof. Franz Seitelberger asked him to join the Institute of Neurology. Following a study placement at the Division of Neurochemistry of the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich, he dedicated himself to building up the clinical neurochemistry area of the Institute of Neurology in Vienna.

After many years of tireless development work, he established a facility for the diagnosis of lysosomal and peroxisomal metabolic disorders, neuro-immunological diagnosis of antibody-mediated neuropathies and liquor diagnostics of prion diseases. He managed to set up a permanent laboratory facility for specialised diagnostics, which was then the only one of its kind in Austria and today serves as a resource for the whole of Austria and even for many foreign users.

He was appointed University Professor of Neurochemistry n 1978 and Head of the Institute of Neurology in 1987.
Prof. Bernheimer ran the institute as its chairman until his retirement in 1998.
In addition to his management role, he also served on various committees of the former Medical Faculty during this period. Amongst other things, he campaigned to establish specialisation awards in the non-clinical area, thereby making a huge contribution to creating the specialisation of "neuropathology" in Austria. He was also responsible for coordinating the allocation of available research space in Vienna General Hospital, which he achieved in a very prudent and circumspect way.
As the Ministry of Science's contact for construction of the new Center for Brain Research, Prof. Bernheimer was concerned with organisation, equipment and staffing issues during the development phase of this institution.

After his retirement, Prof. Bernheimer continued to be involved in various academic activities. For example, he was a member of MedUni Vienna's "Researcher of the Month" jury and a member of the Genetics Working Party of the Federal Section for Specialists of the Austrian Medical Association.

As a cultured person, Prof. Bernheimer always enriched the festivities at the Institute of Neurology, especially the traditional annual "Heringsschmaus" (celebration to mark the beginning of Lent) by giving viola recitals.

In recognition of his many years' service and his many and varied achievements, Prof. Bernheimer was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, First Class, by the Austrian President in 2004.

In recent times, Prof. Bernheimer has had to withdraw from his academic functions on the grounds of age and health but maintained his links with the Institute of Neurology right to the end.

On a personal level, Prof. Bernheimer was greatly valued by members of the Institute of Neurology and also by his professional colleagues at MedUni Vienna, because of his warm and caring nature. He always had time to listen to the problems of his employees and colleagues, always tried to find solutions and treated his team with a great deal of respect.

He maintained a real interest in and commitment to his medical specialism and science long after his retirement from professional life, thus motivating and inspiring his young employees and colleagues at the time, whom he supported and mentored wherever possible.

The team at the Institute of Neurology will always remember Prof. Bernheimer with warmth and respect and value the example that he set for them.


Johannes Hainfellner, Institute of Neurology, MedUni Vienna
Vienna, 6 January 2017