Pushing the boundaries: Four founding chairs at the JKU’s Faculty of Medicine held their inaugural lectures, showcasing their cutting-edge work in various fields of medicine.
The inaugural lectures were met with great interest from academia, the business community, and the local government – former Governor Dr. Josef Pühringer, a staunch supporter of the Faculty of Medicine at the JKU, was also in attendance.
JKU Rector Meinhard Lukas remarked, “The Faculty of Medicine was a university project of our age that is based on a wide variety of success factors and the expertise of valuable partners – our professors and their extensive expertise are the key players. The innovation program is unique in Austria in this particular form and an asset to prospective medical physicians benefiting not only science, but also patient care, the business community, and ultimately everyone in Upper Austria.”
Vice-Rector Andrea Olschewski underscored the faculty’s strong advantage, “The close collaboration and low teacher to student ratio is just as valued as the strong, real-world education we provide. Joint efforts with the Kepler University Hospital have strong appeal across borders.” Prof. Dr. Olschewski referred to the close inner university integration: “Around 70 departments and institutes are conducting medical research or medically-related research – an essential and sustainable symbiosis.”
New Standards in Teaching and Research
During her opening remarks, Health Minister Mag. Christine Haberlander emphasized, “In just a short period of time, the JKU Faculty of Medicine has already set new standards in teaching and research. The new faculty has been able to attract four new founding professors who are all internationally recognized physicians and distinguished scientists. I strongly believe that in addition to their high level of expertise, they have the strong pioneering spirit to take advantage of all of the chances and opportunities that a new school such as this brings with it.”
Mag. Dr. Elgin Drda and Dr. Heinz Brock, managing directors at the Kepler University Hospital, are pleased about the professorship appointments: “These new professors will make sure that the most recent research findings will become a part of standard patient care. The Kepler University Hospital will usher in a new era of high quality medicine in Upper Austria. We would like to make every effort to ensure that they have the best conditions for their research and to provide students with hands-on training, making sure that the local economy benefits from the close cooperation between science, medicine, and the medical industry.”
The Four Experts and Their Fields of Expertise
Univ. Prof. Dr. Matthias Bolz (40) took over the professorship for ophthalmology last May; he was already head of the clinic on an interim basis. As a surgical expert, particularly in corneal and retinal surgery, he believes Upper Austria has “enormous development potential to serve as an example to other areas of Austria and Europe to work on exemplary projects and treatment models.”
Prof. Dr. Bolz earned his medical degree at the Medical University of Vienna in 2004 and his post-doctorate six years later. At the University Hospital for Ophthalmology in Vienna he created two research groups and was instrumental in setting up an international active center to evaluate imaging techniques in ophthalmology. As a result, he developed close business relationships with various clinics and medical technology companies in the USA and Asia.
A few years ago, Prof. Dr. Bolz and his family left Vienna and moved to Linz. His professional fields include analyzing imaging techniques, primarily eye surgery, and introducing medical technology in ophthalmology.
Univ. Prof. Dr. Andreas Gruber (49) is a Vienna native and holds the professorship for Neurosurgery at the Faculty of Medicine. He earned his medical degree at the Medical University of Vienna in 1992 and his post-doctorate degree in 2001. In 2014, Prof. Dr. Gruber became the leading senior physician at the University Clinic for Neurosurgery in Vienna.
He has over 25 years of experience in neurosurgery and conducts research in the field of neurosurgical intensive care and cerebrovascular surgery. “It is an organ,” says Prof. Dr. Gruber, “that involves many emotions.” The father of two sons has also spent time abroad in New York, Texas, Vermont and Oxford. He believes that his students “should also learn things that cannot be found in textbooks.”
Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Oppelt, MBA (51) hold the professorship for Gynecology and Obstetrics at the JKU faculty. Originally from Bamberg, Germany, Prof. Dr. Oppelt studied medicine in Regensburg and Munich, earning his post-doctorate at the University Clinic in Erlangen. A year later he became Chief Physician at the Linz General Hospital and has been head of the Department of Gynecology, Obstetrics, and Gynecological Endocrinology at the Linz State Women’s and Children’s Hospital since 2013.
He has been head of the Clinic of Gynecology, Obstetrics, and Gynecological Endocrinology at the Kepler University Hospital since 2016. The father of two has, among other things, established an oncological focus. He refers to this and minimally invasive therapies as “the department’s strengths”.
In addition to his professorship for Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, Univ. Prof. Dr. Andreas Zierer (44) is also head of the inter-regional Upper Austrian Reference Center (Linz and Wels). The Wels native spent two years abroad at Washington University in St. Louis conducting research and also served as Deputy Director at the Clinic for Thoracic, Cardiac, and Thoracic Vascular Surgery at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. Most recently he was head of the Clinic for Cardiac Surgery and Thoracic Surgery at the private clinic, Helios, in Siegburg.
The father of three will continue to provide artificial heart implants to patients at the Kepler University Hospital this year and will advance his scientific research in both clinical research as well as base-knowledge research. Prof. Dr. Zierer believes that, among other things, “advancements in aortic and heart valve surgery” is of utmost importance.