Franz Gerstenbrand, Austria

Franz Gerstenbrand

In 1955, having obtained the status of a neutral country, Austria was able to invite Neurologists and Psychiatrists from Central and East-European countries, occupied by the Soviet Army. in 1962 the foundation of the “Danube-Symposia for Neurology” took place.

In 1986, during the first business meeting of the Danube-Neurology, Professor M. Wender of Poznan, Poland, proposed a unified European Neurological Society. Professor Danial Bartko, President of the Czech-Slovakian Neurological Society picked up on this idea and organized 1989 a PAN-European congress for neurology with around 1.500 attendants.

This first European Congress of Neurology, which was at the same time the 2nd PAN-European Congress as well as the 1st EFNS Congress, took place in Vienna in fall 1991. Its location was the “Wiener Hofburg”, and the President was Professor Dr. Franz Gerstanbrand. The main principle for both the elaboration of the programme and the invitation of speakers was, to select highly qualified speakers for excellent topics. Many speakers were invited from all over Europe to Vienna, as well as from the United States. As a representative of the AAN Dr. Antonio Culebras, and Professor Batalian from Russia, came to Vienna. In his welcoming speech Professor Gerstenbrand announced the foundation of a European Federation of Neurological Societies. During one of the final meetings, everybody jointly agreed to this introduction.

It was Lord John Walton who suggested establishing the European Society as a Federation of European National Neurological Societies, with a Council of Delegates consisting of representatives of each national European society. All details regarding the President and President Elect. were arranged, as well as the role of a Management Committee.

Dr. Friederike Tschabitscher was in charge of handling the secretary with its office in Vienna.

It was decided that the congress should be held annually, which was not an easy task to realize in the early stages of the EFNS. Professor Einhäupl agreed to host a meeting 1993 in Berlin and Professor Wender 1994 in Poznan, Poland.

The next (and first) EFNS congress was held in Marseille, organized by the Congress President Professor Serratrice.

Under the office-guidance of Dr. Friederike Tschabitscher multiple business-meetings were held in Vienna, during one Professor Richard Godwin-Austen designed today’s logo of the EFNS. Since the shared office space with the Austrian Society of Neurology and Psychiatry got too cramped, the EFNS office, organized by Dr. Tschabitscher and her co-worker Elisabeth Müller, moved into the University Campus, in the vicinity of the “Wiener Medizinische Akademie” (WMA) and rented their own office space.

Ever since the first European Neurology Congress in Vienna in 1991, die structure and constitution of the EFNS was accomplished by the loyal and solid teamwork of Professor Gerstenbrand, Dr. Tschabitscher the Management Committee and well directed framework of Professor Jes Olesen. During Professor Olesen’s Presidency many more different committees were set-up, all the while the EFNS was designed as a model for neurological organization. Attempts to co-work with the already existing ENS were not seriously continued by their officers/ members in charge.