Oldest medical university celebrates its 800th anniversary

8 centuries and radiant health! The Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier (Hérault), the oldest in the world still in operation, today celebrates its 800 years of existence. A celebration marked by numerous events throughout the year. Starting with the launch of the 800ans.fr site which lists all the events: exhibitions in museums and gardens, guided tours, live shows, interactive mobile application, postage stamp, conferences … And a big closing party planned for the next summer. No less was needed to celebrate this symbol of Montpellier’s heritage.

Created on August 17, 1220 by Cardinal Conrad d’Urach, the University of Medicine then brought together knowledge from around the world. This cultural effervescence puts the city at the head of research and education. “Montpellier medicine has been a constant practice since the Middle Ages”, says Thierry Lavabre-Bertrand, vice-president of the University. With pluriculturalism and great attention paid to all living things, in other words to man in his natural environment. A humanism already summed up in his time by the former pupil Rabelais: “Science without conscience is nothing other than the ruin of the soul”.

A strong appeal to students
Among its illustrious doctors, the school also keeps the traces (and the portraits on display) of Rondelet, Chaptal, Nostradamus … Or Barthez and Lapeyronie, with their statues which guard the entrance to the prestigious building. Leaning on St. Peter’s Cathedral, in the center of the city, the former monastery spans various parts: the anatomy conservatory with 13,000 (sometimes astounding) pieces, the famous Atger museum and its vast collection of artistic drawings , the library with thousands of rare and old works, the botanical garden, the first of its kind built by Henri IV in 1593 with the development of botany. The institution has always offered multidisciplinary medicine open to the arts.

Currently associated with the University Hospital of Nîmes and Montpellier (a unique case in France), the establishment makes it possible to move things forward in many areas. ”We have different visibilities on the international scene in oncology, neurosciences, psychiatry, stem cells, biotherapy… explains Michel Mondain, dean of the university. There is also an important axis in infectiology, as we have seen with Covid-19 and the ongoing validation of saliva tests. We also have research institutes such as IRD focused on Africa, very active on AIDS and the Ebola virus… ”

The establishment is also very attractive to students, as it ranks third among the most popular French boarding schools (after Nantes and Lyon). It is also at the top of many rankings: 5th CHU de France (“Le Point” ranking), the most innovative French university (Reuters)… Enough to proudly celebrate its 800th anniversary on Monday. And to honor the motto which has long established the importance of the place: “Formerly, Hippocrates was from Cos, now he is from Montpellier”.

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