Anthony Windebank, M.D., has received an honorary doctorate degree for “extraordinary contributions” to the establishment of Paracelsus Medical University (PMU), Salzburg. A Mayo Clinic neurologist and former dean of Mayo Medical School and Mayo Graduate School, he is currently Program Director of Predoctoral Programs in the Center for Translational Science Activities (CTSA). Dr. Windebank is also a clinician scientist who leads a laboratory team in regenerative neurobiology.
According to Paracelsus’ Dean Herbert Resch, M.D. Dr. Windebank’s encouragement and guidance in the process of establishing an independently funded institution similar in structure to Mayo Medical School was invaluable.
In 1999 group of senior physicians at The Salzburg National Hospital were charged with establishing a medical school. The other three national universities in Austria in Graz, Innsbruck and Vienna had faculties of medicine and medical schools. Salzburg’s medical school was closed by Napoleon in the early nineteenth century. Unfortunately the charter from the state to establish a medical school in Austria did not come with funding. The faculty, lead by Dr. Resch saw this as a both a challenge and opportunity. They looked worldwide for a model that would be independently funded and represent a new approach to medical education in Europe. Dr. Resch is an internationally renowned shoulder surgeon, and through many professional contacts identified Mayo Medical School as the ideal model because it was centered on the needs of the patient and focused on the education of the students. The innovative curriculum of Mayo Medical School that brought students into the learning environment of the clinic in their early years in school was very attractive. A funding model with a strong emphasis on philanthropy was also entirely novel in Europe.
This ongoing partnership with Mayo Clinic has flourished and brought the Mayo Model of Education to Europe. The new medical school was named for Paracelsus; a renaissance physician who was born in Salzburg in 1541 and famous for “thinking outside of the box” and who pioneered the use of minerals as therapeutics. The school matriculated its first class in 2003 and 40 students graduated in 2008. Currently selected students come to Mayo Clinic to carry out research projects in collaboration with Mayo Clinic researchers and many have gone on to fellowships and residencies at Mayo and other U.S. centers of excellence. There are also several major ongoing research collaborations between investigators at Mayo Clinic and Salzburg.