In memoriam: Prof Rudolf Ferlinz

In memoriam: Prof Rudolf Ferlinz

Prof Rudolf Ferlinz, who served as President of The Union from 1991 to 1994, passed away this year at the age of 87 in his hometown of Salzburg Austria. One of his lasting contributions to The Union was to change the World Conferences from an event that took place every four years to an annual meeting.

Prof Ferlinz completed his medical studies in Vienna, but spent most of his professional life in Germany. From 1974 to 1996, he was Professor of Internal Medicine and Pneumology at the University of Mainz. During his career he published several textbooks on internal medicine and pneumology. Lungen- und Bronchialheilkunde, published in 1974, was for many years the standard publication for clinicians and students in Germany and many other countries.

Prof Ferlinz also strove to ensure that tuberculosis received special attention in Germany during a period when the disease risked being forgotten by clinicians and public health officials. For many years, he presided over the German Society of Pneumology and the Central Committee of Tuberculosis, a constituent member of The Union. 

Together with his wife, Dr Christel Ferlinz, Prof Ferlinz was widely known for his skill at organising national and international congresses – including the very successful Union (then IUATLD) World Conference in Mainz in 1994. Many long-time members of The Union still remember this conference, which included a memorable concert and boat trip after the inaugural session. Some continue faithfully to wear The Union tie distributed to all male participants that year.

Twenty World Conferences later,  The Union World Conference on Lung Health has become the largest annual meeting focused on tuberculosis and lung health issues as they affect people living in poverty. Tuberculosis stakeholders from around the world gather to discuss how to tackle tuberculosis more effectively and ensure that this deadly disease is not forgotten.

Prof Ferlinz was a steadfast and faithful member of The Union and we will always remember him with admiration and gratitude.

Nils E Billo, MD MPH

Photo: Prof Rudolph Ferlinz awards The Union Medal to Drs Annik Rouillon and Karel Styblo at the 25th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Mainz, Germany in 1994.