Institute of Ethics, History and Theory of Medicine

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History of the Institute


The Institute was originally established as an Institue for History of Medicine at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich on April 1st, 1939. This date marks the beginning of the institutional consolidation of a subject, which had already passed through a multifaceted development with changing connections to other subjects within the Medical Faculty of the University of Munich.

The first lecture was held in the academic year 1777/78 by Heinrich Palmatius von Leveling (1742-1798) on „Historia medica“ and it was followed by lectures by Peter Theodor von Leveling (1767-1822) and his brother Heinrich Maria von Leveling (1766-1828) while the university was still located in Ingolstadt and Landshut. The subject was represented by such notable personalities as Johann Andreas Röschlaub (1786-1835), Josef Reubel (1779-1852), Georg Ludwig Ditterich (1805-1873), Emil Harleß (1820-1862), Heinrich von Ranke (1830-1909), and  Martin Müller (1878-1960), who became the first director of the new institute.

The long lasting efforts to develop an independent structural framework for teaching und research in the history of medicine came to a successful end through a donation of 30,000 Reichsmark from the editors of the Münchner Medizinische Wochenschrift, with the advocacy of Friedrich von Müller (1858-1941). For this purpose, the university provided the so-called Brakl-House in Lessing Street No. 2, which was designed by the wellknown architect Emanuel von Seidl (1856-1919). The house had already been acquired in 1930 with funds from the physician Dr. Sophie Nordhoff-Jung, who emigrated to the United States of America. The university received the required funds through a foundation established by Nordhoff-Jung in the 1920 dedicated to "maintaining and promoting German science as the highest cultural good.”

The heads of the department following Martin Müller were Werner Leibbrand (1896-1974), Gernot Rath (1919-1967), Werner Leibbrand again (after the early death of Rath), Heinz Goerke (born 1917), and Paul U. Unschuld (born 1943). Wolfgang G. Locher (born 1951) was the active director of the institute from 2006 until 2010. On October 1, 2010 Georg Marckmann (born 1966) was appointed Chairman for the institute.

As a result of the decision made by the University Council on November 26, 2010, the Institute of the History of Medicine was renamed the Institute of Ethics, History and Theory of Medicine, due to the broader range of academic disciplines.

For more information on the history of the institute and more elaborate biographies of the Directors, please see:

Paul U. Unschuld (ed.): 50 Jahre Institut für Geschichte der Medizin der Universität München, München 1989.