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Sahlgrenska Academy: a young faculty with a long history

Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg was formed in 2001. Although the Academy is young, it has a long history dating back to the eighteenth century.

When professor emeritus Arvid Carlsson, the Academy’s Nobel laureate in medicine, officially declared the establishment of the Sahlgrenska Academy at the festive inauguration in 2001, a new era for health sciences education and research in Gothenburg began. The city has long been home to research and education in health sciences, but this was the first time the closely related fields of medicine, odontology and health care sciences were united.

Education and research to the benefit of the people

In the 1990s, extensive analyses led to the formation of Sahlgrenska Academy as a unit for health sciences at the University of Gothenburg. The basic idea was, with a focus on the individual, to work to prevent and cure disease for both current and future generations. To make this possible, a decision was taken to merge the three fields of medicine, odontology and health care sciences into a joint structure.

Three faculties were initially included in Sahlgrenska Academy

In the beginning, three faculties were included the Academy: medicine, odontology and health care sciences.
• 1949 - The medical college in Gothenburg was established. Five years later, it was merged with Gothenburg University College, and together they formed the University of Gothenburg.
• 1967 - The odontology faculty at the University of Gothenburg was established.
• 2001 - The health care sciences faculty was established. The University College of Health Sciences merged with the University of Gothenburg in 1998.

The three faculties were separate for the first four years. In spring 2005, the University Board decided that together, the three would form a common faculty under the name Sahlgrenska Academy and the change was implemented on 1 July 2005.

Collaboration between Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital

When it was time to name the academy, it was only natural for this new part of the university to be named in honour of the merchant Niclas Sahlgren, who left money for the construction of the first Sahlgrenska Hospital in Gothenburg in the late eighteenth century. The partnership between the university and health and medical care was and is extensive. Most of the Academy’s students are trained in part at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, and many of the Academy's employees hold combination positions. This means they work both in medical care, for example as a doctor, and also as researchers/teachers at Sahlgrenska Academy.

Today’s Sahlgrenska Academy

As of 1 July 2005, the previous faculties of medicine, odontology and health care sciences comprise one faculty of health sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy.

Sahlgrenska Academy has the following six departments:
• Institute of Odontology
• Institute of Health and Care Sciences
• Institute of Biomedicine
• Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
• Institute of Medicine
• Institute of Clinical Sciences

Sahlgrenska Academy currently has about 1,600 employees, including 950 teachers/researchers. The Academy has around 3,800 students and 850 doctoral students.

Who was Niclas Sahlgren?

Sahlgrenska Academy is named in honour of Niclas Sahlgren, a merchant of eighteenth-century Gothenburg. He was born in 1701. As a young man, he spent much of his time abroad, including in Amsterdam, where he studied trade. Niclas Sahlgren put that knowledge to excellent use when, together with Scottish merchant Colin Campbell, he founded the Swedish East India Company in 1731. Niclas Sahlgren was co-owner and director of the East India Company between 1731 and 1768.
Most of the company’s trips were to Canton, China. The primary exports from Sweden were iron and wood. Exotic goods like porcelain, tea and textiles were imported from China. The East India Company was extremely successful and made Niclas Sahlgren and his companions very rich. No one knows how much he earned, because trade was surrounded by secrecy and all accounts were burned after every trip. But it was clear that Niclas Sahlgren was one of the richest Swedes of the eighteenth century.

Generous donation

Niclas Sahlgren was very positive towards science and considered the natural sciences fundamental to industrial practices. The humanistic ideals of the Age of Enlightenment had a significant impression on him. His expressed desire was to donate to the needy and to institutions that could improve health and create the conditions for growth in Sweden. Niclas Sahlgren also cared about society’s poorest individuals. During his lifetime, he donated large sums to orphanages and to the poor of Gothenburg.

“I hereby bequeath my sundries from Halland, which do not belong to the Gåsevadsholm or Dahl manors, to some charitable establishment here in the city, either to a home for widows, a workhouse or a hospital, or to all three.”

But the donation resulting in the continued familiarity with the Sahlgren name in Sweden and in the world was the one he made with the signing of his will in December 1772. It said, among other things: “I hereby bequeath my sundries from Halland, which do not belong to the Gåsevadsholm or Dahl manors, to some charitable establishment here in the city, either to a home for widows, a workhouse or a hospital, or to all three.” After Niclas Sahlgren’s death in 1776, the goods were traded in for 150,000 daler and the heirs decided to build a hospital.
Three years later, Sahlgrenska Hospital was complete. It has been moved several times since then but has been located in Änggården in Gothenburg since 1900. Since 1997, Sahlgrenska Hospital, Östra Hospital and Mölndal Hospital have comprised Sahlgrenska University Hospital. It is the largest hospital in the Nordic region, with approximately 17,000 employees and 2,300 beds.

Page Manager: Pontus Sundén|Last update: 12/12/2018
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