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Medical University of Vienna mourns the loss of Gerhard Lechner

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[Translate to English:] Bild: MedUni Wien/Matern

(Vienna, 21-12-2017) Professor Dr Gerhard Lechner, the university hospital’s former chairman of Radiodiagnosis at the Medical University of Vienna (1997-2004) and bearer of the Grand Decoration of Honour in Silver for Services to the Republic of Austria, died on 7th December 2017 in Vienna, aged 81. After his studies, Gerhard Lechner remained closely tied with the Medical Faculty at the University of Vienna and the Medial University of Vienna as an academic teacher, scientist and clinician.

After passing his school leaving examinations with a distinction, Gerhard Lechner (1937-2017), from Bludenz, Austria, came to Vienna to study medicine at the Medical Faculty of the University of Vienna. During his studies, he was involved as a demonstrator at the Institute for Physics and Chemistry and later at the Anatomical Institute, where he was also active as an academic assistant after receiving his doctorate in medicine in 1962.

After a two-year foreign assignment as Chief Medical Officer for the UN regiment in North Africa, Gerhard Lechner returned to Vienna and completed training in surgery at the 1. Surgical University Clinic in Vienna. Gerhard Lecher soon discovered his love for radiology and began specialist training in radiology, which he completed in 1972. From 1972 to 1973, Gerhard Lechner, funded by the Max-Kade scholarship, carried out research at the Department of Radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Following his return, Gerhard Lechner took on the leadership of the radiology department at the 1st Surgical University Clinic from 1973, received the Venia Legendi in the field of Radiology in 1977 and was appointed as an exceptional university professor in 1982. After the relocation of surgical radiology to the new General Hospital in Vienna (AKH), Gerhard Lechner was appointed as university professor and leader of the Clinical Department of Radiology in 1992. From 1994 to 1997, he was the acting chairman of the university’s radiodiagnosis clinic. In 1997, he was selected as the chairman of the university’s radiodiagnosis clinic, a role which he held until 2004.

Under Gerhard Lechner’s leadership, the Clinical Department for Radiology and the entire University Clinic for Radiodiagnosis grew in its clinical research specialisation. In addition, Gerhard Lechner supported the development of research structures such as the establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Hochfeld MR on the grounds of the General Hospital-Medical University campus. Just as important for Gerhard Lehner was the clinic’s continued organisational and medical technology development. He promoted the introduction of a quality management system and the development of a modern didactics in student teaching. Professor Lechner’s involvement in teaching includes the introduction of a radio diagnosis module at the university, the creation of a digital learning centre for students for diagnostic radiology and the publication of a radiology textbook for students, adapted to the Vienna curriculum.  

Alongside his medical, scientific and didactical work, Professor Lechner held numerous university roles, such as in the faculty college and the Academic Commission of the Faulty of Medicine at the University of Vienna. With great commitment, Gerhard Lechner, together with his close friend Rainer Kotz, organised the medical faculty’s Professor’s Club at the University of Vienna.

He was a member of numerous national and international scientific organisations and committees in which he also held leadership roles. Gerhard Lechner was a board member of the Austrian Radiological Society, president of the Austrian Radiological Convention and member of the Regional Board of Health in Vienna and of the Austrian National Board of Health. He was awarded with the Grand Decoration of Honour in Silver for Services to the Republic of Austria and in 2015, he was designated an honorary member of the ÖRG (Austrian Radiological Society).

Gerhard Lechner leaves behind an extensive array of scientific works which, alongside 150 scientific works, include numerous textbooks and the German-language radiological student reference book “Lehrbuch der radiologisch-klinischen Diagnostik”. He was the initiator and organiser of numerous conferences, seminars and training sessions and was a mentor for numerous successful radiologists, both in Austria and abroad.

Throughout his entire professional career and also after his retirement in 2005, Gerhard Lechner held close ties with the Medical University of Vienna. He took on numerous voluntary roles, including the long-standing and successful leadership of the “Researchers of the Month” Committee.

With the passing of university professor Dr Gerhard Lechner, the Medical University of Vienna loses a wonderful person, a passionate academic clinician and scientist, and an outstanding radiologist who has made enormous contributions to radiology.

Univ Prof Dr Christian Herold
Department of Biomedical Imaging and Image-guided Therapy
Vienna, December 2017