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From the Experimental Department to the Organisational Unit

With the appointment of Prof. Jan Navratil in 1967 as director of the 2nd Department of Surgery at the AKH Wien (Vienna General Hospital) an animal experimental research group under the direction of Dr. Ernst Wolner was founded on the 5th floor of the hospital building. There were 3 major research areas: (1) cell culture, (2) artificial heart and (3) gastrointestinal research. The artifical heart group became an internationally respected research team, which reached its preliminary peak with the development of the „Vienna artificial heart“.

The Development Until 1991

The members of the research group were, besides many surgeons, the veterinarian Dr. Udo Losert and the technical engineer Prof. Dr. Herwig Thoma and later Dr. Heinz Schima. With the appointment of Prof. Ernst Wolner as the new director of the 2nd Department of Surgery at AKH Wien (Vienna General Hospital), also the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cardiac Surgery Research was founded in 1975 and the scientific specialisation in the field of cardiovascular research was intensified and expanded. The intensive interlinking between clinical and experimental, basic research was thus institutionalised. With the inauguration of the new AKH in 1991, the Center for Biomedical Research, was founded as a core unit for experimental and preclinical research. The Center was equipped with modern operating theaters for large and also small animals, supported by well trained personnel. Under the newly founded professorship for Laborotary Animal Research, Prof. Udo Losert was appointed as director of the Center.

Main Areas Of Research

In addition to cardiovascular research, the focus has been plastic surgery, rehabilitation, thoracic surgery and neurosurgery. At the same time, small animal models for cardiovascular research became increasingly important. Ex vivo models such as the isolated heart (Dr. Bruno Podesser) and the isolated lung (Dr. Wilfried Wisser) were established and alternatives to animal experiments were increasingly developed and offered. With the genetically modified mouse strains, the department had to face the next wave of innovation.


In the course of the new construction of the Anna Spiegel Research Center, the premises were adapted the increased need of genetically modified mice in research. Together with the CeMM, a pure mouse facility was built according to latest standards with „specific pathogen -free“ (SPF) and biosafety level 3 laboratories.

After the retirement of Prof. Udo Losert, the Center for Biomedical Research was temporarily headed by Prof. Hans Stöhr, Prof. Harald Höger and then by Prof. Helga Bergmeister. During this period, the Center for Preclinical Imaging was established at the Center for Biomedical Research together with the Department of Radiology, which today offers state-of-the-art diagnostics for small animals under the direction of Prof. Thomas Helbich. On 01.10.2014, the cardiac surgeon Prof. Bruno Podesser was appointed as the new director of the Center for Biomedical Research.

New building in Himberg

Since summer 2020 new experimental facilities are established at various places within the  Medical University of Vienna. The most eminent is the new research facility in Himberg, which is currently under construction. It will house a core facility for mouse breeding and units for large animal operation and surgical training (hybrid-OR).

As of September 2021, the „Core facility laboratory animal breeding and husbandry“ (interim head Prof. Wilfried Ellmeier) were spun off as an independent department and will henceforth be dedicated to laboratory animal breeding. The Center for Biomedical Research and Translational Surgery (headed by Prof. Bruno Podesser) comprises three core areas as of 01.01.2022, which are reflected in new departments: Medical Devices and Drug Testing, Training and Simulation and the Cardiovascular Institute.