Gunnar Biörck was one of the great men of Swedish internal medicine. Cardiology was his life long interest, but later aspects of medical administration and health politics became more dominant in his work. He was influenced by three institutions; the Karolinska Institute, where he studied medicine and for more than two decades worked as a professor; the Swedish Parliament, of which he was a member for ten years; and the Royal Court, or rather King Gustaf VI Adolf, whom he served during his later years and came to know well.
Biörck was born in Gothenburg and educated in Djursholm, a wealthy suburb north of Stockholm. He went on to medical school in Stockholm. During the Second World War he served as a physician in the Royal Swedish Naval Medical Corps Reserves. In 1949 he defended his thesis and was appointed associate professor in internal medicine at the Karolinska Institute. In 1950 he moved to the University of Lund in southern Sweden and worked with Jan Waldenstrom [q.v.] at the Malmö General Hospital.
In 1958 he returned to Stockholm as professor of medicine at the Karolinska Institute and chairman of the department of internal medicine at the Serafimer Hospital, which since 1752 had taught medicine and given professional medical care to patients. He was a powerful and energetic head physician for 22 years and collected a group of collaborators who later filled several leading posts in Swedish medicine. The hospital, in spite of Gunnar Biörck's strong opposition, was eventually found to be too old and was closed down.
In 1965 he was appointed as a physician to King Gustaf VI Adolf and later to King Carl XVI Gustaf. In an obituary he called the late King Gustaf VI Adolf "a noble teacher in the art of living".
In 1976 he became a conservative member of Parliament, and was one of the most industrious members, incessantly reading, writing and debating. He wrote a number of scientific papers and books, many contributing to ongoing social and political debates.
He married Margareta Lundberg in 1944 and they had three daughters and two sons. He died as a result of cardiac problems.
Lars Erik Böttiger