AOCMF founding father Dr Joachim Prein going strong at 80

On the occasion of his 80th birthday, we caught up with AOCMF founding father Dr Joachim Prein to learn what he’s up to these days

07 June 2018

Jochen Prein anniversary
As a consultant for AOCMF Education and as AO Alliance Foundation Vice Chairman, Prein remains a dynamic example of the legendary AO spirit. He’s still actively involved in the AOCMF Fellowship program, serving as European Regional Fellowship Coordinator and, in parallel, is putting, together with co-editors Michael Ehrenfeld, Neal Futran and Paul N Manson, final editorial touches on a new AOCMF Manual.

Prein said the fellowship program is continuously evolving to best meet the needs of fellows.

“In the beginning, the fellowships were much less formal, with fellows coming to study with Prof Bernd Spiessl and me at the Universitätsspital Basel. The first fellow came to Basel in 1979,” he recalled, adding that craniomaxillofacial fellowships at that time were part of the AO’s trauma fellowships. In the early days, there were just two or three fellowships per year. Today, AOCMF funds around 60–70 fellowships annually.

“In matching candidates with fellowship centers, I have always asked, ‘What kind of candidate is this? Which center is most appropriate for this candidate?' ” he said.

Keen sense of humor

Another thing that remains unchanged in AOCMF’s history is Prein’s keen sense of humor, as evidenced by an anecdote about his early days as an AOCMF ambassador. In the 1980s and on behalf of AOCMF in its early incarnation, Prein traveled, together with Berton Rahn, the world like a missionary, zealously spreading the word about the organization and its mission.

“Sometimes we were in two or three cities per day! As it happens, I like to have a black label whiskey every night before I go to bed, and on one occasion during my travels, someone presented me with a bottle of black label whiskey as a gift,” he says, recalling that he placed the bottle in his luggage, which was stored in the plane. Late that evening, he opened the suitcase to discover the bottle was broken and his clothing for the next day drenched and reeking of whiskey.

“There was no time for laundry, so there I was the next day, smelling like whiskey,” Prein recalled with a self-deprecating chuckle. “Everyone was too kind to say anything about it, but I think they all realized that it wasn’t sweat that they were smelling.”


Jochen Prein AOCMF A real legend. Dr Prein (right) has helped shape what is today the leading organisation for craniomaxillofacial surgeons

A birthday with friends—and then back to work

Not surprisingly, Prein celebrated his 80th birthday on April 21 in the company of longtime friends—from the AO as well as his school days and field hockey-playing times—at a history-centered Basel restaurant.

And then, as usual, it was back to work: In addition to his hands-on role as AOCMF Regional Fellowship Coordinator, Prein is co-editor of the soon-to-be-published Advanced Techniques of Fixation in the Craniomaxillofacial Skeleton, to be published in the fourth quarter of 2018. After 1998, when the first Manual of Internal Fixation in the Cranio-Facial Skeleton was published, Prein was co-editor of the manual Principles of Internal Fixation of the Craniomaxillofacial Skeleton—Trauma and Orthognathic Surgery, together with M. Ehrenfeld and P. Manson (2012). He is actually working as co-editor on the latest manual on Advanced Techniques of Internal Fixation of the Craniomaxillofacial Skeleton: Tumor, Corrective Bone Surgery and Trauma.

AOCMF thanks Dr Joachim Prein for his considerable enthusiasm and his continued work to advance patient care