Renowned neuroimmunologist Hans-Peter Hartung receives honorary degree from Palacký University

Photo: Vojtěch Duda
Wednesday 7 February 2024, 14:15 – Text: Martin Višňa

On the proposal of the Scholarly Board of the UP Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (FMD), Palacký University Olomouc awarded the honorary degree of doctor honoris causa to Hans-Peter Hartung, the world-renowned physician and scientist who has significantly contributed to the elucidation of the mechanism of new treatment for demyelinating diseases of the nervous system, especially multiple sclerosis, and who has been intensively collaborating with the FMD Department of Neurology and University Hospital Olomouc for more than twenty years.

The world-renowned physician and scientist received an honorary doctorate during a ceremony at the Archbishop’s Palace in Olomouc. Milan Kolář, UP FMD Dean, introduced the laureate and his connection to Olomouc’s university.

“Prof Hans-Peter Hartung is an extraordinary scientific, medical, and pedagogical authority in the global context. The long-term collaboration of Palacký University with Prof Hartung enables our students to undertake research internships in Germany and has resulted in a number of important publications in the field of contemporary neurological research. His relentless interest in systemic collaboration has translated into a number of excellent results in science and research and has thus undoubtedly contributed and will continue to contribute significantly to the reputation of Palacký University – not only in the European but also in the broader international context,” Kolář said.

He did not omit to say Prof Hartung was appointed a Visiting Professor at Palacký University in 2022, regularly attends Olomouc neuroimmunology symposia as an invited speaker, and is a member of the editorial board of the professional journal Biomedical Papers, published by the UP FMD.

Hans-Peter Hartung is mainly involved in clinical and translational research in basic and clinical neuroimmunology, particularly in multiple sclerosis and immune neuropathies, and in the development of novel immunological, neuroprotective, and neurorepair therapeutic strategies. His work has contributed significantly to the elucidation of the mechanism of contemporary therapies for demyelinating diseases of the nervous system – i.e. multiple sclerosis and demyelinating inflammations of the peripheral nervous system. He currently heads the Centre for Neurology and Neuropsychiatry at Heinrich Heine University and University Hospital Düsseldorf.

The honorary doctorate in the form of a diploma as well as a UP commemorative medal with a double portrait of Josef Dobrovský and František Palacký was presented to him by UP Rector Martin Procházka, together with Lucie Plíhalová, Vice-Rector for Science and Research. “With great joy and deep respect, I present the honorary degree to Prof Hartung for his merits in the development of medical science and in promoting the good name of Palacký University Olomouc. At the same time, let me use this solemn occasion to wish you good health and many more successes in science, medicine, and teaching, Prof Hartung,” said Rector Procházka in his speech.

“This is really a very touching moment for me and one of the highlights of my academic career,” said Prof Hartung at the ceremony. In his speech, he recalled the beginning of his cooperation with Olomouc physicians and scientists when he headed the neurology department at the University of Graz, and when Olomouc neurologist Jan Mareš, now head of the Centre for Diagnostics and Treatment of Demyelinating Diseases at University Hospital Olomouc, visited the laboratories in Graz as a young assistant.

“Our common goal was to improve the quality of life for our patients. This was the starting point of a long-term productive scientific collaboration that resulted in repeated mutual visits and many a joint publication. The head of Olomouc neurology, Petr Kaňovský, fully supported this cooperation. Over the years, Professors Mareš and Kaňovský became my close friends, which I appreciate very much. Such relationships are one of the most valuable things one can achieve when working in academia,” said Prof Hartung. He also pointed out that the honorary doctorate from UP means a lot to him in the context of the renewed good neighbourly relations between the Czech Republic and Germany.

After the ceremony in the Archbishop’s Palace, the new honorary doctor of Palacký University Olomouc headed to a place he is familiar with – the historical lecture hall of the UP FMD Department of Neurology and University Hospital Olomouc. In a special seminar, he gave a lecture on current trends in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Hans-Peter Hartung has become the third person to be awarded an honorary doctorate by Palacký University in recent months. During last year's celebrations of the 450th anniversary of the founding of Olomouc’s university, the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, who was involved in the revival of theological studies in the Czech Republic after the Velvet Revolution, and the well-known jazz composer and pianist Emil Viklický, a graduate of the UP Faculty of Science, received honorary doctorates. Since 1990, Palacký University has awarded honorary doctorates to five dozen personalities for their contributions to the development of science, culture, and other activities for the benefit of society and humanity. Among them are the first president of the Czech Republic (and post-1989 Czechoslovakia) Václav Havel, chemist Antonín Holý, and plastic surgeon Bohdan Pomahač. A list of all UP honorary doctors is available on the university's website.


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