News #13 | April, 2010
Editorial
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Faculty of Medicine - 100 Anos
Faculty of Medicine - 100 Anos

The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon, which emerged as a continuation of the Lisbon Medical-Surgical School, founded by King Dom João VI, was created by the Government of the Republic Decree-Law of 22nd of April 1911 after the institutionalisation of the University of Lisbon in March of the same year - Decree nº 66, of the 22nd of March 1911 – in which was determined the creation of a university in Lisbon and one in Oporto.

It was a historic date and a landmark in the politics of the Republic in the promoting of public education and the development of science.

In relation to Medicine, it appears after a profound work of reflection, which mobilised the medical and scientific intelligence of the time, which took place in the last decade of the monarchy, with relevance for the report by Ricardo Jorge on medical teaching and the need for updating and modernisation, and the World Medical Congress, which was held in 1907, in the building built specifically in the Campo de Santana square to house the Medical School.

Its protagonists consubstantiated a unique collective effort in the contemporary history of Portuguese Medicine. They became known as the Generation of 1911, and marked out the future, as they cast the bases of scientific medicine in Portugal. 

The three fundamental contributions of Portuguese medicine of the XX century emerged from their school of thought and action: Cerebral Arteriography, initiated by Egas Moniz and from which was born the Portuguese School of Angiography, with Reynaldo dos Santos, who introduced Aortography, Lopo de Carvalho, with Angiopneumography, João Cid dos Santos with Flebography and Eduardo Coelho, who had the first live visualisation of coronary circulation, Pre-Frontal Leucotomy which led to the Nobel Prize for Medicine being awarded to Egas Moniz, and which despite the well-known vicissitudes, marked the beginning of surgery on the central nervous system in the treatment of mental illnesses, and, finally, Endarterectomy with João Cid dos Santos, pioneer of reconstructive arterial surgery.

All of this development took place in the first half of the XX century; it was a remarkable period, unrepeatable in Portuguese Medicine, which was affected firstly by the scientific and cultural dimension of its creators, but also the spirit of freedom and initiative that marked out the first two decades of the new regime.

In the field of public health and in the struggle against pandemics in Portugal and in the African territories then under our administration, and in the development of tropical medicine, a deserving mention should be made of Fraga de Azevedo and Francisco Cambournac, who achieved international recognition through his work with the awarding of the Prix International Léon Bernard, the highest world award in Social Medicine and Public Health, granted by the WHO Assembly in May 1978.

Other advances were led by doctors, who did their training at the Faculty of Medicine but who moved away from it in order to carry out remarkable scientific work in Portugal and abroad, to whom the Faculty presents its homage.
These figures and others who stood out in Portugal as academics, doctors, cultural figures and civil references, who in the faculty and in the civil hospitals of Lisbon, determined the progress and modernisation of Portuguese medicine and the education of new generations, are our institutional references and are also references in Portuguese medicine, and for us are a reason for pride and a contract of responsibility.

The historical vicissitudes of Portuguese history have indelibly marked the Faculty of Medicine and its evolution. No human institution is indifferent to the social, political and economic conditions of the society in which it exists.

The dictatorial political intervention that decapitated the academic and clinical leadership in the faculty, with the removal of Pulido Valente, Fernando Fonseca, Cascão de Anciães and others, the orthodox, state-centred and politically motivated view that has since then marked out health and medical education policies, and which destroyed the University Teaching Hospital, which was fundamental in the period of progress during the first decades of the XX century, had a deeply negative impact on the development and modernisation our medical school.

The collective self-absorption of the last decades of the dictatorial regime that started in 1926 and the international isolation and intellectual arrogance that marked out that time deeply affected the progress of scientific medicine in Portugal and its integration and participation in the new open, free and democratic society that emerged from the ashes of World War II in other countries.

For this reason the reflection that is required is cannot only be an exercise of memory of the past and its greatness. It must include attentive and thorough analysis of the repercussions that some of the above-mentioned political measures had on our medical school, and on the reduction of its scientific contribution, which was also true of all Portuguese medicine at that time.

The enlightened action of private institutions like the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, with the institutionalisation of the Gulbenkian Science Institute, its support for studying abroad for many doctors as grant receivers from the Foundation, its financing of scientific initiatives and its help in the technological re-equipping of the health units made it possible to continue scientific action and sowed the seeds for the necessary renewal.

We are living in a period of change.

The new political setting of freedom and democracy in which we have been living since 1974, the technological and information development that has changed human society, the new advances in BioMedicine, the new generations who have carried out their scientific and professional training abroad and wish to bring to Portugal the experiences acquired in the more developed scientific and medical mediums and the free circulation of people and goods provided by Europe represent an opportunity and a challenge to which we cannot remain indifferent.


The construction of the new Egas Moniz building, our emphasis on fundamental biomedical research, of which the Institute of Molecular Medicine is an expression, the modernisation of the Santa Maria Hospital and the broadening of the faculty’s teaching activities to other health institutions in Lisbon have consubstantiated an indispensable strategy of modernisation, which requires the completion of the ongoing projects both in the Faculty and in the Santa Maria Hospital.

The need for a new perspective in medical education, introduced by the Curricular Reform, aiming at making updated and indispensable scientific education compatible with the understanding of bio-pathological phenomena, with modern Professional training and with a global view of clinical medicine, based on scientific knowledge but centred on the individuality of the sick person, and the new model of organization indispensable to this dynamic integrating our triple mission – Teaching, Caring and Researching – of which the Academic Medical Centre is an expression, are fundamental aims.
Along with the development of scientific research in our faculty and with the evolution of our university towards being a true research university, a priority that cannot be put off and a challenge for all those responsible.

For this reason the 100 years of the Faculty of Medicine of the university of Lisbon (FMUL) deserve celebration and provide an opportunity for the reflection that is needed on our present, but particularly on what we intend for the future.
To this end the Faculty has promoted the forming of a Scientific Committee for planning the activities to be carried out, has invited relevant figures from society to, along with retired Full Professors, form our Committee of Honour, and has decided to institutionalise the Day of the Faculty, in April, the month of the publication of the founding Decree in 1911, and which this year will mark the beginning of the commemorations of the centenary.

We have invited the Faculty of Medical Sciences of Lisbon, a sister school of ours which also has its roots in a common past, to participate with us in these celebrations, and I thank its current Director, Professor José Caldas de Almeida and the current Chancellor of the New University, Professor António Rendas, for their availability and interest.

The commemorations of the centenary of the faculty will begin with the Day of the Faculty on the 30th of April 2010, with a solemn session presided over by Professor António Sampaio da Nóvoa, Chancellor of the University of Lisbon, whose guest of honour is Professor Lord Ara Darzi, Professor of Surgery at Imperial College London and who, as a member of Gordon Brown’s government, promoted the approval of the legislation to set up academic medical centres in the United Kingdom and stimulated a policy of innovation and quality control in the British National Health Service.

I invite all the members of the faculty, teachers, doctors and other health professionals who collaborate with the faculty, the students, who are the soul of the university and a guarantee of continuity, our alumni who carry out their profession as doctors with honour and dignity or participate as scientist in Portuguese scientific development, and the staff of the faculty, whose action is indispensable to its working and administrative modernization, to participate in these celebrations of the 100 years of the Faculty of Medicine.

The overall programme will be announced soon, and will include the Faculty Conferences, to be held by personalities of cultural and social relevance, Exhibitions based on the cultural action of the doctors who trained at the faculty and a Scientific Encounter to be held in 2011.

On the 30th of April 2010 the programme was widely distributed and divulged, and I renew my invitation, both personally and in the name of everyone responsible for the different organs of the faculty, to participate with us on the Day of the Faculty.

The FMUL is an institution with a past of which we are proud. It has always been a bastion of freedom, a focus of culture and a centre for scientific and professional development.

I am sure that we will be able to honour that past and thus build the future.


José Fernandes e Fernandes
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Coordination:
Prof. Doutor J. Fernandes e Fernandes
Editorial Commitee: Prof. Doutor J. Fernandes e Fernandes, Prof. Doutor Alexandre Ribeiro, Prof. Doutor António Vaz Carneiro, Prof. Doutor João Ferreira, Dr. Luis Pereira
Information Officer: Ana Raquel Moreira
Editorial Team: Ana Maria Silva, Ana Raquel Moreira, André Silva, Lara Ponte, Miguel Andrade, Rui Gomes, Sónia Barroso, Susana Henriques, Tânia Simões
Collaboration: Communication and Image Office - Ana Isabel Gonçalves da Silva, Bruno Moura
Design and Technical Support: UTI 
Design and development: Spirituc
e-mail: news@fm.ul.pt