Upon the Occasion of 65 Years of Continuous Work of University of Sarajevo's Faculty of Medicine

Not many institutions of higher education in the region of former Yugoslavia, or even Europe can proudly proclaim a jubilee of 65 years of continuous work. From the viewpoint of history, 65 years is not such a long period, but taking into account the times when the work of University of Sarajevo's Faculty of Medicine was performed and the accomplished results in terms of education and research and development, we can safely say that this is an institution which can be proud of its own tradition. For a long time, the Sarajevo Faculty of Medicine has had generations of professors who with their academic work have imparted knowledge and experience, not only to the numerous generations of students, but upon their younger colleagues - future teachers/professors as well. Also, as one of the oldest institutions of higher education in B&H, if not the oldest one, Sarajevo Faculty of Medicine has been the cradle from which many medicine-related Faculties have sprung, not just within the Sarajevo University, but also in Tuzla and Banja Luka universities. If we bear in mind that the founders of the Faculties of Medicine in Foča and Mostar are graduates of the Sarajevo Faculty of Medicine, this Faculty can be proclaimed the cradle of medical education in B&H.

The need for opening an educational institution for educating medical staff in Sarajevo was considered even before World War I when a Law passed by the Bosnian Assembly stipulated that a new National Hospital with 800 beds be built. Eminent experts from renowned European medical centers gathered to address this, but World War I and the ensuing hardships of life in Bosnia and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia rendered the realization of this idea impossible.

The first effort toward establishing a Faculty of Medicine in Sarajevo followed during wartime 1944, on the basis of a legal provision on the foundation of Faculties of medicine issued on March 27th 1944, and the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty of Medicine in Zagreb, the author of which was Ante Šercer, MD PhD, with several other professors of the Zagreb Faculty of Medicine at the time. According to the mentioned Rules and Regulations and on the basis of the legal provision issued on July 1st 1944, all medical Faculties in Croatia (Independent State of Croatia) including the one in Sarajevo, were members of the Croatian University in Zagreb. The following members sat on the board in charge of establishing the Faculty of Medicine in Sarajevo: Ante Šercer, MD PhD, Mile Budak, MD PhD, Ljudevit Thaller, MD PhD and Ibrahim Ruždić, MD PhD. Sarajevo Faculty of Medicine started work on November 22nd 1944, with an opening lecture by Stanko Sielski, MD PhD who was appointed dean and had up to then been the director of the Institute for Combating Syphilis in Banja Luka.

160 students were enrolled in the first semester and the Faculty was situated in two buildings in the old part of town, in Bistrik. In the first building (former Konak) the Registrar's Office, the central medical library, the ceremonial hall, the Institute for History of Medicine and the Institute for Social Medicine were situated. In the second building, (the former Martial Court) the institutes for Anatomy, Histology, Physics and Biology were situated. In the third building that belonged to the Faculty, the palace of the National Mainstay (at the time still occupied by the army), was intended to house the Institute for Chemistry, Institute for Physiology and Institute for Pharmacology.

After the fall of fascism in 1945 and coming into power of the Communist Party of the Federative National Republic of Yugoslavia (FNRJ) there was a halt in the work of the Faculty and its students were forced to transfer to Faculties of Medicine in Zagreb, Belgrade and Ljubljana, provided they could finance their own studies. Sadly nowadays, 63 years later, there are no more living witnesses to these events.

The ruins and desolation following World War II and, most importantly, the fact that there were only around 200 doctors in Bosnia and Herzegovina (including army doctors and German prisoner of war physicians), along with the catastrophic epidemiological situation involving tuberculosis, spotted typhus, malaria, typhoid fever and diphtheria prompted considerations that Bosnia should produce its own medical staff. Given that, Nedo Zec, MD PhD, the People's Minister of Health in the Government of the People's Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on March 9th 1946 addressed a Memorandum from the Ministry of People's Health on the foundation of the Faculty of Medicine in Sarajevo to the Committee of People's Health of the FNRJ in Belgrade. At the time, in Bosnia and Herzegovina there were 9 counties with no doctors while, in most of the others, healthcare services were provided by German doctors, prisoners of war. In FNRJ at the time the situations in B&H and Kosovo were the worst with regard to many things. In B&H there were 7.176 inhabitants per physician, less than in either of the other republics, but still more than in Kosovo (a physician per 12.500 inhabitants).

As a response to the mentioned initiative of the Minister of People's Health, the Committee for the Protection of People's Health of FNRJ in Belgrade set up a commission in charge of founding the Faculty of Medicine on its plenary session held on May 22nd 1946. The Commission became officially valid only on August 27th 1946, on the basis of the Decision issued by the President of the Committee, Dr. Dmitri Nestorov. The following were members of the commission:

  1. Dr. Nikola Nikelić, secretary of the Committee for the Protection of People's Health in the Government of FNRJ,
  2. Dr. Radivoje Verović, member of the Committee and professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Belgrade,
  3. Dr. Ksenofon Šaković, professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Belgrade,
  4. Dr. Drago Perović, professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Zagreb,
  5. Dr. Milivoje Vidaković, professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Belgrade,
  6. Dr. Antun Brecelj, professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Ljubljana,
  7. Dr. Nedo Zec, Minister of People's Health in the People's Republic of B&H (NR B&H),
  8. Dr. Vaso Ćutuzan, deputy Minister of Agriculture of the NR B&H and
  9. Prof. Slavko Nazetić, deputy Minister of Education of the NR B&H

The commission convened in Sarajevo on September 10th and 11th 1946. The representative of the Zagreb Faculty of Medicine, Drago Perović, MD PhD, did not attend this meeting (due to illness). There were also some changes in the initial members of the Delegation of the Faculty from Belgrade. In the conclusions of the Commission it was stated, among other things: "since the People's Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina has suffered the greatest damages in the previous war, the Federal Government should take upon itself all the costs incurred by the foundation and organization of this Faculty, until it is in working order and ready to resume the educational process. Once that is achieved, the financing of the Faculty should be transferred to the NR B&H's regular budget ".

The commission also appointed the following Faculty registrars:

  1. Dr. Ante Premera, professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Zagreb,
  2. Dr. Janez Miličinski, professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Ljubljana,
  3. Dr. Aleksandar Sabovljev, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine in Belgrade,
  4. Dr. Teodor Ivić, deputy Minister of People's Health.

Very soon, on November 16th 1946, Nedo Zec, MD PhD officially opened the Faculty of Medicine in Sarajevo, in today's premises of the elementary Faculty "Edhem Mulabdić". At the same premises classes were held for students of the secondary (vocational) medical school. The first anatomy lectures were held by Jakov Kiljman, MD PhD. Although this has already been mentioned in several monographs, we will here also point out that the first appointed teachers in 1946 were: senior lecturer Aleksandar Sabovljev - Physiology and Biochemistry, Nedo Zec, MD PhD - Neuropsychiatry, Vladimir Čavka, MD PhD - Ophthalmology, Jakov Kiljman, MD PhD - Anatomy, Milivoje Sarvan, MD PhD - Pediatrics, Blagoje Kovačević, MD PhD - Surgery, Bogdan Zimonjić, MD PhD - Internal Medicine, Stanislav Szabo, MD PhD - Gynecology and Obstetrics, Srećko Bošnjaković, MD PhD - Dermatovenerology, as well as the following professors of physics, biology and chemistry: Prof. Branko Galeb, Prof. Vojin Gligić, Prof. Dojčin Jakšić, Prof. L. Filipović.

At the appeal of the political-social authorities, the students from B&H left their studies of medicine in Zagreb and Belgrade in order to transfer to the newly opened Faculty in Sarajevo. 296 students were enrolled in the first year. Aside from pursuing scholarly activities, they also helped with the construction work on the Faculty buildings on its present location. In December 1947, the Faculty moved into the first finished building. At the location of the former General State Hospital "Koševo", 3 lecture theatres were built (for Internal Medicine, Surgery and Infectious Diseases). In 1952, the construction work was finished and the educational process was conducted in a very intensive manner, as some of the institutes were already at the time very well equipped. In the academic year 1949/50, the Faculty had 20 departments. The following were the heads of these departments:

  1. Department of Physics - Prof. Branko Galeb
  2. Department of Chemistry - Mladen Deželić, MD PhD
  3. Department of Biology - Stjepan Urban, MD PhD
  4. Department of Anatomy – senior lecturer Hajrudin Hadžiselimović
  5. Department of Histology and Embryology – senior lecturer Radivoje Milin
  6. Department of Physiology and Biochemistry - Aleksandar Sabovljev, MD PhD
  7. Department of Microbiology - Robert Fried, MD PhD
  8. Department of Pathological Anatomy - Zvonimir Kopač, MD PhD
  9. Department of Pharmacology - Pavao Štern, MD PhD
  10. Department of Epidemiology - Miloš Aranicki, MD PhD
  11. Department of Internal Medicine - Bogdan Zimonjić, MD PhD
  12. Department of Infectious Diseases – senior lecturer Blagoje Đorđević
  13. Department of Neuropsychiatry - Nedo Zec, MD PhD
  14. Department of Pediatrics - Milivoje Sarvan, MD PhD
  15. Department of Surgery - Blagoje Kovačević, MD PhD
  16. Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics - Stanislav Szabo, MD PhD
  17. Department of Eye Diseases - Vladimir Čavka, MD PhD
  18. Department of Otolaryngology - Žarko Praštalo, MD PhD
  19. Department of Hygiene and Social Medicine - Miloš Aranicki, MD PhD
  20. Department of Court Medicine - Pavao Kaunic, MD PhD.

In the period leading up to 1954, the curriculum was in line with the classical Middle- European curriculum, placing special emphasis on the clinical part of studies, so that there was a tendency to conduct theory and practical classes concurrently. This program lasted 6 years. In 1954, the "block system" of classes was introduced lasting up to 1956. This system proved good with regard to the clinical group of courses but, in the basic medical courses, the single-course syllabus did not yield good results. On the other hand, the teaching staff was pleased to have more time to focus on research and development work.

Due to the lack of doctors in Yugoslavia, the Decision issued by the Federal Government in 1956, introduced a 5 year study program which was effective at the Faculty of Medicine for a total of 34 years, until the academic year 1990/91.

The number of teachers and teaching assistants increased with time, generations came and went but, with their work, they all left a mark with the desire to create an institution based on unyielding foundations of solid work and endeavor.

In 1960, University of Sarajevo's Faculty of Medicine founded a Dentistry branch which, in 1974, developed into a Faculty of Dentistry. In 1974, in cooperation with the Faculty of Science and Mathematics in Sarajevo, the Faculty of Medicine founded the Faculty of Pharmacy. In the same year, the Faculty of Medicine started classes with students enrolled in the School of Applied Health Sciences. In 1976, the Faculty of Medicine in Tuzla was founded and the following were its registrars from the Sarajevo Faculty of Medicine: Jakov Gaon, MD PhD, Zdravko Besarović, MD PhD, Ešref Sarajlić, MD PhD. Teaching staff from the Sarajevo Faculty of Medicine taught at the Tuzla Faculty of Medicine for a long time, thus providing the continuity of its work, until it grew into an institution which could sufficiently implement the curriculum relying on its own teaching staff. On March 17th 1978, the Banja Luka Faculty of Medicine was founded, its work starting with the first lecture held on November 15th 1978. Registrars from the Sarajevo Faculty of Medicine were two members of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Hajrudin Hadžiselimović and Dr. Seid Huković and Ešref Sarajlić, MD PhD.

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Postgraduate Studies at the Faculty of Medicine in Sarajevo

Already in October 1963, in its 16th year, a postgraduate program was established at the Faculty. That was the first postgraduate program of the kind at the University of Sarajevo, B&H and the region. It was a single-course program under the title: "Introduction to Medical Scientific Research" and as such was conducted until 1969 when, in accordance with the Decision issued by the Faculty Council, the postgraduate studies were reorganized so that the first year was identical for all postgraduate profiles, while in the second year, the candidates were divided into 5 branches:

  1. Basic medical sciences
  2. Internal medicine
  3. Surgery
  4. Social and preventive medicine
  5. Dentistry

The following were subsequently added:

  • Occupational medicine course
  • A course for general practitioners and
  • Working ability evaluation course

New branches were later introduced: Experimental-Laboratory Medicine, Pulmonology, Social Medicine, Healthcare Organization, Information Science and Healthcare Economics, Medical Ecology, Family Medicine, as well as an entire set of clinical branches. In 1986, the Center for Postgraduate Studies and Continuing education was founded. In 1992, there were 26 branches of postgraduate studies at the Faculty. By December 31st 2006, the accomplished scholarly results achieved at the postgraduate studies at the Faculty of Medicine in Sarajevo amounted to 657 completed Master's theses, i.e. 657 candidates who have obtained the title Master of Sciences.

During the period of the aggression on B&H (1992 - 1995) the premises of the Faculty and the Clinical Center, the former UMC (University Medical Center) and the teaching bases of the Faculty suffered unfathomable and senseless destruction. Some of the staff left the city and the Faculty, while those who stayed continued to maintain the continuity of work and implement the curriculum in its full capacity under unimaginable conditions. By a combination of circumstances, along with the four Faculties of Medicine, 7 other Faculties of the University of Sarajevo were placed in these premises, since they had lost theirs. Even in such circumstances, when those who remained in besieged Sarajevo struggled with the lack of electricity and water, walking among grenades and when human life cost less than a bullet, the teachers, associates and students continued working considering that their professional, moral and ethical obligation to their people and their Country.

The greatest loss for the Faculty were the lives of young students and our colleagues who were killed or severely injured while strongly persisting in humanitarian and ethical norms of their future profession. These are their names:

  1. Dilberović (daughter of Atif) Suada, born in Dubrovnik in 1968
  2. Pavlović (son of Dragan) Igor, born in Sarajevo in 1969
  3. Merzić (son of Mustafa) Haris, born in Sarajevo in 1965
  4. Golijanin (son of Radenko) Goran, born in Sarajevo in 1967
  5. Shehab Khalid Ahmed Mohamad, born in Sudan in 1963
  6. Džano (daughter of Muhamed) Melinda, born in Sarajevo in 1968
  7. Poprženović (daughter of Alaga) Amela, born in Bihać in 1970

During that time, 144 students – doctors of medicine graduated. It would be wrong to claim that the defection of a certain number of teachers and associates to the aggressor's side, or departures for other reasons, had significantly disturbed the Faculty's staff structure. Given the conditions in the period between 1992 and 1995 the remaining educational and scientific activities were remarkable. The postgraduate program was conducted so that the students who met the necessary requirements prior to the aggression or during the war, were able to complete and defend their Masters' theses. 7 scientific projects were completed at the Faculty mostly pertaining to issues of wartime medicine. Aside from this, 21 doctoral dissertations were completed and defended and the Faculty was the organizer or co-organizer of 9 scientific symposia. A considerable number of teachers from the Faculty were involved as experts in projects by the Ministry of Health, the B&H Academy of Arts and Sciences, the World Health Organization and the like.

The peace accords which ended the war at the end of 1995 found the employees and the academic community of the Faculty with premises nearly reduced to rubble, destroyed equipment and a lack of finances for work.

The restoration was started with donations from: the European Union, the Canadian Government, the Austrian humanitarian organization HOPE 87, the US Embassy, as well as the Faculty's own funds. The Faculty, regardless of the received aid, is still not as well equipped as it had been in the pre-war period.

The postwar period in general is characterized a prevalence of the posttraumatic stress disorder among the population which neither the students nor the staff were spared. This is the basic reason why, in roughly the first 10 years after the end of the war, the number of students who passed the required examinations was small and the efforts students and staff alike undertook to tackle this issue insufficient.

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A Brief Overview of Scientific Work at the Faculty

Since the very beginning of its activities, the Faculty of Medicine in Sarajevo paid special attention to scientific work as the basis of medical education and high professional quality in providing healthcare. Over the past 6 decades, the Faculty has published over 15 thousand scientific and professional medical publications, monographs, books, textbooks, reference books, exercise compendiums and other educational publications aimed at undergraduates and postgraduates. On the institutes and clinics, more than 200 significant research and development projects were implemented many of which were promoted and verified abroad.

The 468 completed and successfully defended doctoral dissertations (data from December 31st 2006) are also the result of scientific work at the University. It is important to point out that a significant number of our alumni, doctors of medicine and other health professionals continued their careers as doctors and academic researchers on universities in Europe and throughout the world.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Academy of Sciences and Arts (ANUBIH) , the highest scientific and arts institution in the country, was founded in accordance with the 1966 Law on the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The scientific society of NR B&H was founded in 1951 on the basis of this law, later developing into an Academy rank institution. Here are the names of the members of the ANUBIH from the Sarajevo Faculty of Medicine.

These are the deceased members of the ANUBIH – members of the medical department, since its foundation until December 31st 2006:


  • Ibro Brkić (1901 - 1989)
  • Marko Ciglar (1991 - 1998)
  • Vladimir Čavka (1910 - 1984)
  • Jakov Gaorn (1914 - 1995)
  • Ernest Grin (1899 - 1976)
  • Hajrudin Hadžiselimović (1914 - 1981)
  • Sejid Huković (1925 - 2001)
  • Risto Jeremić (1869 - 1952)
  • Milivoj Kostić (1883 - 1974)
  • Blagoje Kovačević (1900 - 1959)
  • Milan Radoje (1912 - 1971)
  • Aleksandar Nikulin (1926 - 2005)
  • Džemal Rezaković (1920 - 2004)
  • Milivoj Sarvan (1896 - 1978)
  • Hišam Serdarević (1917 - 1986)
  • Dragomir Stanković (1919 - 1999)
  • Pavao Štern (1913 - 1976)
  • Nedo Zec (1899 - 1971)
  • Faruk Konjhodžić (1936-2007)
  • Grujica Žarković (1915-2010)
  • Jela Grujić Vasić (1923-2009)
  • Srećko Šimić (1929-2011)
  • Slobodan Loga

Associate members of the ANUBIH

  • Vladimir Pšorn (1921 - 1993)
  • Ešref Sarajlić (1923 - 1980)
  • Senka Mesihović Dinarević
  • Lidija Lincender

The University of Sarajevo was founded in 1949. Professors of the Faculty of Medicine played an active role both in its foundation and continuous work. The two University Rectors from the Faculty of Medicine have a special place in that regard:

  • Dr. Zdravko Besarević, (1977/78 and 1980/81),
  • Dr. Nedžad Mulabegović, (1995-2000)

The following are University of Sarajevo's Vice-Rectors from the Faculty of Medicine:

  • Dr. Milivoje Sarvan, (1950/51)
  • Dr.Aleksandar Sabovljev, (1955/56)
  • Dr.Jakov Gaon, (1963/64 i 1964/65)
  • Dr.Seid Huković, (1981/82, 1985/86)
  • Dr.Slobodan Loga,(1988/89)
  • Dr.Amir Pleho, (1993/94 i 1994/95)
  • Prof. Jusuf Žiga, (2000-2004)

For a total of 20 years (1966-1986) the Faculty published Folia Medica Facultatis Medicinae Universitatys Saraeviensis, a very renowned and in international scientific circles recognizable professional-scientific journal, which has been out of print for the past 20 years due to unfortunate circumstances. These days the Faculty is considering reactivating the publication of this journal.

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Important Recognitions Awarded to University of Sarajevo's Faculty of Medicine for its Work

Following a decree by the President of the SFRJ Josip Broz Tito on November 10th 1971, the Faculty was bestowed the Order of Labor with the Red Flag. On December 9th 1986, by a charter issued by the University of Belgrade's Faculty of Medicine on February 3rd, it was awarded the Plaque of the Army's Medical Academy. Aside from these, the Faculty was awarded over 100 charters, plaques and recognitions by both local and foreign organizations of higher education, students' organizations and various companies.

The Faculty of Medicine as an Alma-mater gave the crucial contribution to the development of healthcare and medical science in this country. It has been and shall remain the key basis for other medical Faculties having educated medical staff not only from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but from Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia, as well as numerous students from abroad.

Bakir Mehić, MD, PhD


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Faculty of Medicine Deans since its Foundation to Date 

  1. Aleksandar Sabovljev, MD PhD 1947-1948
  2. Vladimir Čavka, MD PhD 1948-1949
  3. Blagoje Kovačević, MD PhD 1949-1950
  4. Nedo Zec, MD PhD 1950-1951
  5. Milivoje Sarvan, MD PhD 1951-1952
  6. Pavao Štern, MD PhD 1952-1953
  7. Aleksandar Sabovljev, MD PhD 1953-1954
  8. Milivoje Sarvan, MD PhD 1954-1955
  9. Živojin Ignjačev, MD PhD 1955-1956
  10. Blagoje Kovačević, MD PhD 1956-1957
  11. Grujica Žarković, MD PhD 1957-1960
  12. Ivo Herlinger, MD PhD 1960-1962
  13. Grujica Žarković, MD PhD 1962-1964
  14. Hajrudin Hadžiselimović, MD PhD 1964-1967
  15. Marko Ciglar, MD PhD 1967-1973
  16. Hišam Serdarević, MD PhD 1973-1974
  17. Ešref Sarajlić, MD PhD 1974-1980
  18. Nikulin Aleksandar, MD PhD 1980-1982
  19. Momir Macanović, MD PhD 1982-1986
  20. Anton Lovrinčević, MD PhD 1986-1988
  21. Boriša Starović, MD PhD 1988-1993
  22. Nedžad Mulabegović, MD PhD 1993-2000
  23. Husein Kulenović, MD PhD 2000-2003
  24. Osman Durić, MD PhD 2003-2006
  25. Bakir Mehić, MD PhD 2006-2014
  26. Almira Hadžović-Džuvo, MD PhD 2014-

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