Carl-Axel Hamberger – Obituary

Written by Sten Hellstöm

Carl-Axel Hamberger was born in 1908. He completed his medical studies in Stockholm in 1936. His thesis, one of the first concerning the treatment of infections with chemotherapeutics, was published in 1942. He received his training in otolaryngology under Professor Gunnar Holmgren and worked at both Sabbatsberg Hospital and Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm. In 1949 he was appointed Head of Department of Otolaryngology at Sahlgrenska Hospital, Göteborg , and in 1953 became the first professor of Otolaryngology at the University of Göteborg and in 1960 Professor of Otolaryngology in the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, and Head of Department of Otolaryngology, Karolinska Hospital, a post he held until his retirement in 1975.

Carl-Axel Hamberger held a pre-eminent position in Swedish otolaryngology for several decades. Under his supervision the specialty developed, particularly in the fields of head and neck surgery, treatment of skull base diseases and surgery of hypophyseal tumours. During his time in both Göteborg and Stockholm he was the Chief Medical Officer of the hospital for several years. He organized the development of Sahlgrenska Hospital into a modern University Hospital and then continued with the expansion of Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm.

He served on the Swedish Board for Development of University Hospitals, and was a member of the National Board of Health and Welfare, and Chairman of the Committee for Foreign Doctors in Sweden. During a period he was chairman of the Swedish Medical Society. His scientific and administrative abilities led to his appointment to important positions in the Medical Faculty of the Karolinska Institute and the Medical Nobel Committee. On the Swedish Medical Research Council and on the board of several private foundations, his wide knowledge of all kinds of medical research was an inestimable asset.

His international positions included a place on the Executive Committee of IFOS. He worked as editorial secretary and jury member of the Collegium Otolaryngologicum Amicitiae Sacrum, becoming its president in 1976 with responsibility for the golden jubilee meeting of the Collegium in Stockholm. He was an honorary member of many international societies and was conferred the honorary doctoral degree on several occasions. He was a Semon Lecturer in London in 1962.

Carl-Axel Hamberger served as Chief Editor of Acta Otolaryngologica from 1967. For more than 20 years he spared no effort to give Acta a high international scientific standard. During his editorship, Acta increased its number of subscribers and an expanding number of supplements also indicated the journal’s sound international reputation.

Carl-Axel Hamberger had a great humanitarian mind and took a never failing interest in all his patients, colleagues and friends. He devoted much time to the education and support of young doctors, both personally and scientifically, whenever they needed advice. His broad contacts with otolaryngologists in almost every country gave him a warm circle of friends all over world.