History Congress: “Taking urological history beyond books”

04 February 2016

The EAU History Office is organising the 6th International Congress on the History of Urology in conjunction with EAU16. Attendance is free for everyone attending the 31st Annual EAU Congress in Munich. The congress promises to deliver a diverse and interesting scientific programme and many big-name speakers from urology’s past.

We spoke to Dr. Johan Mattelaer (Kortrijk, BE), former EAU History Office Chairman, full-time urological historian and attendee of every History Congress thus far.

Previous History Congresses

“The very first International Congress on the History of Urology took place in Fiuggi, Italy on October 8-11, 1992. The driving force behind this Congress was very much one man’s vision: Prof. Paolo Marandola from Pavia. He was already known as a historically-minded urologist, publishing several works with Prof. Sergio Musitelli (who still works with the EAU History Office). Sponsoring was a lot more commonplace back then, and he was able to organise a three-day scientific programme with speakers from all across the world.”

“The second Congress was on the Greek Island of Kos, known of course for its connection to Hippocrates; the third in Vienna; the fourth in Baltimore in collaboration with the AUA’s History Office; and most recently (2011) in Budapest.”

Uniqueness of the Congress

“We felt that it would be a good time, and indeed location to host another Congress. Munich is in the centre of Europe, and by combining the Congress with EAU16, we hope to welcome a lot of interested urologists.”

“Not every urologist is interested in finding out more about the roots of his or her field. However, we do see that the books that the History Office publishes every year are well-received. A congress like this goes beyond a book: by bringing people together, in some cases people who are “living history” themselves, you do create a more immediate and involving situation for learning.”

“This congress is unique. It is the only one devoted exclusively to the history and culture of urology. Secondly, we have some extraordinary speakers who you might never hear speak again.”

Big names in urology

“We really made an effort to live up to the “international congress” name by inviting speakers from far and wide. They join us from both North and South America, from Asia, Africa and of course Europe.”

“One of the sessions is devoted to pioneers of the field. Claude Schulman will present a biography of Willy Gregoir, one of the founders of the EAU and urological innovator in his own right. Christian Chaussy will detail the first experiments with ESWL. Practically every speaker at the congress is a “big name”, with a formidable career and something to offer the delegates. Two participants are former EAU Secretaries General: Frans Debruyne and Per-Anders Abrahamsson.”

The value of history
“Should practicing urologists show an interest in the history of their field? I think so, you can compare it to genealogy and knowing your ancestors. Most urologists will delve into history briefly when they write an article and need to give a brief review of earlier developments.”

“We’re expecting to attract older, still practicing urologists who are coming to EAU16 in any case. But I’m also pleased to see that younger urologists have been regular contributors to our poster sessions and publications over the years.”

“As the History Office, we’re very happy that the EAU and its Executive also see the value of historical research in the field. After all, there’s very little sponsoring interest in the past! So to publish or to organise meetings like this, we need the support of a larger society like the EAU. Most great books on medical history that I’ve seen have been supported by companies or by trusts. In our case, we’re supported by the European Association of Urology!”