Initially drawn to Internal Medicine, I owe my professional change of interest in the clinical and theoretical aspects of Pathology to my first-time visit to the U.S. from 1969 – 1971 as a NIH Fellow with the Institute of Pathology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. The turning point was largely due to the significant role played by my instructor Professor Hans Popper (1903 – 1988), who at the time was Dean and Head of the Institute of Pathology and later President of the Mount Sinai Medical School.
He embodied the ideal synthesis of traditional Austrian anatomical pathology and modern-day functional pathology. It was during these two years that I was first introduced to Pathology as a field based on solid tradition while incorporating also the dynamic principles oriented around the patient.
Following my return to Vienna in 1971, I joined the Institute of Pathology at the University of Vienna headed by Prof. J.H. Holzner. With full support of my director, I was able to initiate and promote the development of this modern approach to Pathology. Concurrently, this ignited the wish to return to America, this time as a Fulbright scholar from 1974 – 1975.
Once again I was able to expand my horizons of expertise through working with the Institute of Pharmacology at Yale University in New Haven, CT. Moreover, through contact with colleagues from various specialized fields involved in lab work, or by attending seminars or participating in journal clubs, I recognized that an interdisciplinary approach to biomedical research represents the essential recipe for success. Apart from these more professional aspects, years spent in the USA allowed me to better understand the country and its people. I wouldn’t have missed the experience for anything.
Professor Dr. Helmut Denk
President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
Chairman of the Department of Pathology of the University of Graz, Austria