In Memory of Werner Schneider – a Swiss-Swedish Pioneer in Medical Informatics
It is with great sorrow that we share the news about the passing of Dr. Werner Schneider with the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) community. Dr. Schneider’s passing will be felt by so many, and our thoughts go out to his wife, Marlis, and his family.
IMIA shares the loss of Dr. Schneider with our good friends, the Swedish Federation for Medical Informatics (SFMI), and the European Federation for Medical Informatics (EFMI). He was a true pioneer to us all and has touched and inspired so many of us.
Werner Schneider was born 1935 in Bern, Switzerland, and obtained his Master’s degree in Experimental Nuclear Physics from the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH). He performed his doctoral studies in Computational Physics under the supervision of the later Nobel Prize winner Professor Kaj Siegbahn in Uppsala, Sweden, and became Assistant Professor in Computational Physics at Uppsala University. From 1963–1965 he was Assistant Professor in Technical Physics at the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH).
Moving back to Uppsala, he became the Director of UDAC, the Uppsala Data Central belonging to Uppsala University, a position that he held for 30 years. At UDAC numerous innovations were developed in different areas, such as digitalization of the clinical laboratory, radiotherapy planning systems, database technology, computerized patient records, image-based decision support and VR systems.
In 1980, the first WHO Collaborating Centre in Medical Informatics was established at UDAC, with Werner Schneider as Head and Principal Investigator. Having specialized in research work concerning the possibilities and limitations of formal representation of human interactive behavior since 1963, he started the Center for Human-Computer Studies at Uppsala University in 1987. He was also Professor in Human-Computer Interaction at the Department of Information Science (DIS), Uppsala University, and Professor in IT&T at Mid-Sweden University. In the early 2000s, Dr. Schneider was Main Advisor to the Portuguese Catholic University, Campus Regional da Beiras, Viseu, in the fields of Health Informatics and Innovative Learning Environments and Methods.
Dr. Schneider was instrumental in the early years of IMIA as SPC Chair of the first MedInfo Congress that was held in Stockholm in 1974. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate (Dr. h.c.) in Medicine by the University of Uppsala in 1978, and by the Medical Academy of Dresden, Germany, in 1987. He was an Honorary Fellow of EFMI, the European Federation of Medical Informatics, and was elected to IMIA’s Academy, the International Academy of Health Sciences Informatics (IAHSI), as part of the Inaugural Class of Fellows in 2017.
Werner Schneider will be deeply missed by his many friends and collaborators in the medical and health informatics communities. He was a true visionary who made the impossible possible!