The Vienna Medical School(s) were renowned worldwide for about 200 years, from the middle of the 18th century to the middle of the 20th century. Gerard van Swieten (1700–1772) founded the Vienna Medical School(s) during the reign of Empress Maria Theresia. After 1938 the members of jewish origin, who constituted approximately a third of the personnel of the medical faculty and about half of the private practices in Vienna, were either killed or banished from the country. The rise of Nationalsocialism and the concluding World War II brought the development of the Vienna Medical School(s) to an abrupt end. Until this day the schools in Vienna endeavor to continue in the renowned tradition.
The university library of the Medical University of Vienna houses the valuable cultural heritage that represents the development and the impact of the Vienna Medical School(s). Of notable importance is the branch library for History of Medicine and Ethnomedicine with its collections of manuscripts, medical instruments, image archives and anatomical wax models.
To this day there is no scientific or scholarly definition of the Vienna Medical School(s) or their members. PHYSICUS is the first attempt to register all members of diverse epochs. PHYSICUS offers its users biographic data as links to the library catalogues of the university library of the Medical University of Vienna as well as to relevant archive materials. Through this portal users also have access to free online documents as well as books, documents and pictures which have been digitalised from the university library.