Hans Popper, Prof. Dr.

24.11.1903 – 6.5.1988
born in Wien, Austria died in New York, United States


Ehrung Titel Datierung Fakultät
Honorary Doctorate Dr. phil. h.c. 1964/65 Faculty of Philosophy

After Hans Popper had graduated from high school ('Akademisches Gymnasium') in Vienna he began to study at the Medical School of the University of Vienna in 1922. During his studies he wrote scientific texts, two of them together with Zacharias Dische. He graduated in 1928, specialised in anatomical pathology and biochemical laboratory and developed his interest in Hepatology. In 1933 Hans Popper began to work as an unpaid extraordinary assistant ('unbesoldeter außerordentlicher Assistent') at the First Medical University Clinic (Prof. Eppinger) at the Medical School of the University of Vienna.

He was persecuted in times of Nazism as a Jew, lost his position and was thrown out of the University of Vienna.
Also his cousin, Dr. Ludwig Popper(1904-1984), had worked as “Assitent" at the Department of Medical Chemistry of the University of Vienna until 1936 and intended to be 'habilitated' (postdoctoral qualification), didn't have the chance to finish after the "Anschluss". Until the "Anschluss" 1938 he kept on working voluntarily (unpaid) as head of the nurses station of the Vienna General Hospital and as a guest physician at the outpatient department of the gynaecological clinic. The Medical School of the University of Vienna informed him in June 1938, that his habilitation no longer serves any purpose because of his "non-Aryan" descent and that he could come to pick up his documents. He was able to emigrate to Switzerland in 1938 and to Bolivia in 1939. He returned to Vienna in 1947 and received his habilitation as a lecturer ('Privatdozent') for internal medicine in 1948.

Dr. Hans Popper was able to emigrate via the Netherlands to New York/USA, received a research fellowship at the Cook County Hospital in Chicago, where he became director of the department of Pathology in 1943, and gained a PhD in pathology and physiology at the University of Illinois in 1944.
His father also emigrated to New York in 1938 at the age of 75 years, passed the Illinois State Board examination to practice as a physician for further 10 years.
In 1942 Hans Popper married a fellow, Lina Billig. They had two sons, Frank J. Popper and Charles Popper. In 1943 he obtained the US citizenship and served in the US army until 1946.

Later he worked as Professor of Pathology at Northwestern University School of Medicine until he was appointed pathologist-in-chief at the Mount Sinai Hospital and moved to in New York in 1957. He was one of the founders of Mount Sinai School of Medicine (1963) and was its first dean of academic affairs.

On 11 May 1965 Hans Popper was awarded a honorary doctorate of the University of Vienna during the 600th university jubilee. As dean of the Philosophical Faculty Walther Kraus held his laudatio:

„Doctor medicinae et philosophiae Hans Popper, Professor der Pathologie an der Columbia-Universität in New York, hat an unserer Universität studiert und wurde hier im Jahre 1928 zum Doktor der Medizin promoviert; dazu hat er später in den Vereinigten Staaten den Grad eines Doktors der Philosophie erworben. Seine Forschungen betreffen vor allem die Zusammenhänge zwischen der anatomischen und mikroskopischen Struktur der Leber und ihren zellulären und subzellulären Elementen einerseits und ihren vielfältigen Funktionen anderseits, und zwar sowohl unter normalen als auch unter pathologischen Bedingungen. Poppers zusammen mit Schaffner verfaßtes Buch ‚The Liver Structure and Function‘, das in einer großen Oberschau morphologische, biologische und pathologische Gesichtspunkte vereinigt, ist ein Standardwerk auf diesem Gebiet.“
(Die Sechshundertjahrfeier der Universität Wien. Offizieller Festbericht, Wien 1965, S. 53)

In 1973, he was appointed Gustave L. Levy Distinguished Service Professor and became president and dean of Mount Sinai Medical Center. There he was also head of the department of pathology until he retired in 1973. After his retirement he still was active in research and teaching. Hans Popper is regarded as the founder of hepatology (study of the liver and its diseases).

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Katharina Kniefacz, Herbert Posch

Zuletzt aktualisiert am 03/26/24

  • Hans Popper

    Courtesy: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai