Commemoration of the German Society of Gastroenterology
In memory of

Prof. Dr. med.
Bruno Oskar Pribram
1887 - 1962

Prof. Dr. med. Bruno Oskar Pribram, Reichshandbuch, Berlin 1930
Prof. Dr. med. Bruno Oskar Pribram, Reichshandbuch, Berlin 1930

Member since 1925

Studies in Vienna and Berlin

Coined the term "postcholecystectomy syndrome"

Changed his name to
Bruno Oscar
Charles Pribram
in the USA

 Ex Libris for Bruno Oskar Pribram, two-colour line etching by Eduard Gärtner, Archive H Je
Ex Libris for Bruno Oskar Pribram, two-colour line etching by Eduard Gärtner, Archive H Je
The Journal of the American Medical Association 1950
The Journal of the American Medical Association 1950

Prof. Dr. med. Bruno Oskar Pribram

  • Prague, Czech Republic, 1‌1‌.‌0‌6‌.‌1‌8‌8‌7‌
  • Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Southern Bavaria, Germany, 1‌3‌.‌0‌3‌.‌1‌9‌6‌2‌
  • Member since 1925
  • Escaped to the USA in 1938
  • Berlin
  • Surgeon

Education and Places of Work

Bruno Oskar Pribram first studied chemistry under Zdenko Hans Skraup in Vienna, graduating with a doctorate (Dr. phil.) in 1909. He then went on to study medicine in Vienna and Berlin and worked briefly at the laboratory of the II Medical University Clinic of the Charité in 1912. He passed the medical state examination and received his doctorate in Vienna in 1913.

After having passed his exams, Pribram initially worked as an assistant at the I. Medical University Clinic in Vienna under Carl Harko von Noorden and Karl Friedrich Wenckebach, and under Anton von Eiselsberg at the Surgical Clinic.

He actively participated in the First World War and in 1917, was appointed senior physician of a mobile surgeon group organised by v. Eiselsberg at the Vienna I. Surgical University Clinic.

Pribram moved from Vienna to Berlin in 1918 and undertook his training at the Charité Surgical University Clinic, Ziegelstrasse, under August Bier until 1924. He habilitated in surgery at the Friedrich-Wilhelms University in Berlin in 1922. He was appointed professor (extraordinarius) in December 1928.

Pribram introduced Novoprotin, a plant protein preparation, for the intravenous therapy of gastric and duodenal ulcers in 1922. However, it failed to live up to expectations and had undesirable side effects.

He had headed the department of surgery at the St. Hildegard Hospital in Berlin-Charlottenburg from 1925.

Pribram was mainly active in the interface of surgery, internal medicine, and radiology. His work touched on the diagnosis and surgical therapy of biliary tract diseases, especially of the gallbladder. In addition to abdominal surgery, he researched the invasive therapy of high-grade mitral stenosis. He was one of the first surgeons who dared to perform a surgical intervention on the mitral valve in humans.

Bruno Oskar Pribram was dismissed from his leading position at the St. Hildegard Hospital in Berlin in 1933. His teaching licence at the Berlin University was revoked on 24 November 1933 due to “non-Aryan descent” (§ 3 of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service of 7 April 1933, “non-Aryan descent”). Pribram was the son of Catholic parents, one grandparent was a member of the Jewish faith.

 Ex Libris for Bruno Oskar Pribram, two-colour line etching by Eduard Gärtner, Archive H Je
Ex Libris for Bruno Oskar Pribram, two-colour line etching by Eduard Gärtner, Archive H Je


Escape to England in 1938 and to the USA in 1940

Pribram fled from Berlin to England in February 1938. He passed the British medical exams, worked briefly at St. Guy’s Hospital in London and later in a practice as a medical practitioner in the London district of Mayfair. He succeeded in getting his 12-year-old son, Heinrich (Henry) F. W. Pribram, out of Germany and bringing him to London in December 1938. Heinrich was the son from Pribram’s 1925 marriage to Hildegard Ullstein, the granddaughter of the founder of the Ullstein publishing house. The marriage was divorced in 1930.

Pribram left Liverpool aboard the ocean liner, the Royal Mail Ship Antonia in July 1940, first to Canada and from there to the USA. He reached Detroit on 9 August 1940.

Bruno Oskar Pribram’s German citizenship was revoked in June 1940. As a result, he was stateless for ten years, notably since he was not granted US citizenship until 1950.

Pribram headed the department of surgery at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Shanghai, an American mission hospital, from 1940 to December 1945.

After returning to New York, he worked as a surgeon at St. Clare’s Catholic Hospital in Manhattan and after 1945 repeatedly published on the further development of bile duct surgery and on the therapy of occlusive icterus. In 1950 Pribram coined the term “postcholecystectomy syndrome”. Pribram was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the Medical Society of the State of New York, USA. Pribram was no longer able to work after having sustained a stroke in 1951. His last place of residence in the USA was Cleveland, Ohio.

The Journal of the American Medical Association 1950
The Journal of the American Medical Association 1950

Bruno Oskar Pribram died in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria in March 1962 at the age of 74. He was buried at the local cemetery in Garmisch-Patenkirchen. His gravesite was dissolved in the 1980s.

Pribram’s brother, the gynaecologist Professor Egon Ewald Pribram, who had been working in Frankfurt, was imprisoned at the Buchenwald concentration camp in the summer of 1938. After his release in April 1939, he had to leave Germany. He was able to flee to Shanghai, China, and lived in Cleveland, USA, from December 1948.


  1. Quantitative Bestimmung von 1-ß-Oxybuttersäure in Harn und Blut. Z exp Path Ther 1912; 10: 279-283
  2. Parenterale Reizbehandlung des Magen- und Duodenalgeschwürs. Med Klin 1922; 18: 958-962
  3. XII. Die operative Behandlung der Mitralstenose. Arch Klin Chir 1926; 142: 458-464
  4. Fortschritte in der Erkenntnis der Pathologie und der chirurgischen Behandlung des Gallensteinleidens. Jena: Verlag Gustav Fischer 1930
  5. Postcholecystectomy syndromes. JAMA 1950: 142: 1262-1267

Sources and Further Reading


Biographie of Prof. Dr. med. Bruno Oskar Pribram


  • Deutscher Reichsanzeiger Nr. 135 und preußischer Staatsanzeiger vom 12.6.1940
  • Schriftliche Auskunft der Friedhofsverwaltung Garmisch-Patenkirchen an den Verfasser Harro Jenss. Email vom 05.01.2021.
  • Universitätsarchiv Humboldt Universität Berlin, UK P 176 und Med. Fak. 01, Nr. 1388, Bl. 110


  • Bauer H, Kraas E, Steinau HU. [Hg] Schwoch R [A]. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Chirurgie 1933-1945. Die Verfolgten. Heidelberg: Kaden Verlag; 2019 217f.
  • Fischer I. Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Ärzte der letzten fünfzig Jahre. Band I. Berlin, Wien: Urban & Schwarzenberg; 1932: 1247
  • Forsbach R, Hofer H-G. Internisten in Diktatur und junger Demokratie. Die Deutsche Gesellschaft für Innere Medizin 1933-1970. Berlin: Medizinisch Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft 2018: 433
  • Kagan S. Jewish Physicians. Boston: Medico-Historical Press 1952: 463f.
  • Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Hg). Handbuch österreichischer Autorinnen und Autoren jüdischer Herkunft 18. bis 20. Jahrhundert, Band 2 ( J-R ). München: Saur Verlag 2002: 1077
  • Pribram B.O. Die operative Behandlung der Bauchschüsse im Spätstadium. Wiener Klin Wochenschr 1917; 30: 1-19
  • Reichshandbuch der deutschen Gesellschaft. Das Handbuch der Persönlichkeiten in Wort und Bild. Schriftleitung Robert Volz, Vorwort Ferdinand Tönnies. Band 2 (L–Z). Deutscher Wirtschaftsverlag, Berlin 1931, 1444