Institutional commemoration in memoriam of Dr Cervós, on his first anniversary


Jordi Cervós i Navarro (1930-2021)

Jordi Cervós i Navarro was born in Barcelona on 9 January 1930. He was a Catalan doctor, with a long distinguished career in the study of neurology. The intense life and work of Jordi Cervós i Navarro is included in the book Memories. Berlin and Barcelona, Round Trip [Memòries. Berlín i Barcelona, anada i tornada], published by Editorial Pagès. His memoirs tell how he went from being a "cowherder" in the Pallars Sobirà region during his childhood, to becoming the rector of the Universitat Internacional de Catalunta in 1997.

He lived through the Spanish Civil War with maternal relatives, in Roní, a small town in the Pallars Sobirà region, near the Pyrenees Mountains, and separated from his parents, who had to stay in Barcelona. In 1939, he returned to the County Seat [Ciutat Comtal] and, from the spring of that year, he attended the Escolapis School [Col·legi dels Escolapis] of Barcelona.

In 1946, he began his career in Medicine at the Universitat de Barcelona and finished it six years later in Zaragoza. He was only 22 years old when he graduated. In the Aragonese capital, he contacted Dr Rey-Ardid, who helped him obtain a grant in 1952 to go to work at a psychiatric clinic in Innsbruck. The good professional perspective took him to the capital of the then Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn, in 1953, where he decided to pursue an academic career. He did his thesis on a rare brain condition, for which he received the Leonardo Torres Quevedo Prize awarded by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). He also received the Extraordinary Doctoral Award at the University of Madrid in 1956. In 1961, he became full lecturer of Neuropathology and, in 1968, he obtained a professorship when he was only 38 years old.

Furthermore, in Bonn in 1948, encouraged by Saint Josemaría, whom he met during his university years in Barcelona, and three other Opus Dei members, Cervós laid the foundation for the apostolic work of the Opus Dei in Germany, and a new stage began in both German capital cities: a long and fruitful professional career spanning more than four decades, which gave him great international prestige in the field of neuropathology, and turned him into the so-called “father of cerebral microcirculation.” But the pinnacle of his career came when he described a new nervous disease: reticulo-histiocytic granulomatous encephalitis.

In September 1996, Cervós received a call from Ramon Guardans. An “entirely unexpected” international call:

"Since I arrived in Germany, the idea of returning to my own country hadn't even crossed my mind. After nearly half a century, I had completely taken for granted that I would live here for the rest of my life. Only the possibility of an accident during one of my frequent trips could raise some doubt."

Guardans, the first president of the university board of trustees of the new university, was asking him to accept an assignment that implied a life change, with almost 70 years behind him. However, despite his initial surprise, he accepted it, with no hesitation.

This was how, on 12 November 1996, the future new university was presented to the media, with the rector coming from Germany. The name: Universitat Lliure de Catalunya. The major commitment from Sant Cugat of some of the buildings of the Hospital General de Catalunya, was for Medicine.

“I was almost a half a century in Germany, most of my life, and coming back and using my knowledge to serve my first homeland, was also exciting for me.”

As Guardans had said on more than one occasion, the then Universitat Lliure de Catalunya was an initiative that emerged from civil society, “Catalonia’s undisputable character, what has made it possible that over the last two centuries Catalonia has had the drive and vitality, the patience and adaptability, the good sense and sensibility, which have made our country a key piece in the construction and growth of modern Spain.”

Jordi Cervós And Navarro, Dr Cervós, was leader until 2001, when he passed the baton to Josep Argemí, becoming director of the department of International Relations until 2007. During those years, he continued to travel around the world, making the University known, and he continued to be involved in the Institute of Neurological Sciences.

In January 2010, he celebrated his 80th birthday at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, which had been so hard to move forward. The University honoured him by naming one of the Faculty’s laboratories after him. Eleven years later, on 14 November 2021, he died, at age 91, after a long illness he himself had studied and knew well.

From Pallars Sobirà to Barcelona, passing through Berlin


Was born in Barcelona


Moved to Roní at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, where he lived until 1939 with relatives, separated from his parents who had stayed in Barcelona


Began classes at the Escolapis School of Barcelona


Began his career in Medicine at the Universitat de Barcelona


Became a member of the Opus Dei


Moved to Zaragoza, where he finished his studies at the University of Zaragoza


Went to Innsbruck to work in a psychiatric hospital


Began his carreer in Medicine at the Universitat de Barcelona


Obtained the Extraordinary Doctoral Award at the University of Madrid, today, Complutense University of Madrid


Obtained the full lecturer of Neuropathology at the University of Bonn


Obtained full professorship of Neuropathology at the Institute of Neuropathology at the Free University of Berlin


1974-1977, became vice president of the Free University of Berlin


1976-77/1991-93, became executive president of the German Society of Neuropathology and Neuroanatomy


1979-1982, became dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the Free University of Berlin


Returned to Barcelona, after agreeing to be the first rector of the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya


Josep Argemí replaces him as rector; became the director of International Relations of the Universitat Internacional de Catalonia until 2007


He died on 14 November

Recognitions and awards

  • 1956, Doctor honoris causa by the Complutense University of Madrid
  • 1984, Doctor honoris causa by the University of Zaragoza
    Doctor honoris causa by the University of Hannover, Germany
    Doctor honoris causa by the University of Tokushima, Japan
    Doctor honoris causa by the University of Saransk, Russia
  • 1995, Grand Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • 1996, Doctor honoris causa by the Universitat de Barcelona
  • 1999, Grand Cross of the Civil Order of Alfonso X the Wise
  • 2002, St. George Cross
  • 2009, Doctor honoris causa by the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Greece