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    Medical and Biological Sciences

    Send Print Download added: Dorota Kazimierczak | 2015-04-01 11:54:08
    poland, medicine, biology, eu

    Polish physicians have been known beyond their home country since the sixteenth century, when the Pole Józef Struś was a professor of medicine at the University of Padua.

    Wojciech Oczko was also an important scientific figure at that time because of his study of syphilis, which allowed him to rationalise its treatment. He also drew attention to the danger of poisoning posed by the mercury which was being administered in large doses at that time asa treatment. Polish scientists also conducted studies on anatomy, and the neuroanatomical engravings in the textbook by Ludwik Maurycy Hirszfeld are used even today in anatomy books. Jan Antoni Mikulicz-Radecki was one of the fathers of modern surgery and a pioneer of asepticism. He was the first to use silk gloves and cap in the operating room, and a mask over the mouth. He developed many operating methods and designed surgical instruments, for example small clamps to stop bleeding, which are named for him, a tool for plastic surgery of the nose, harpoon clamps used even today in gynaecological operations. He developed and described many laryngological operations, and conducted research in orthopaedics, contributing to progress in that field. He was the first to develop a method of thoracic surgery in a pressure chamber, and was also a pioneer in the surgical treatment of diseases of the thyroid. His most important achievements, however, were in surgery of the digestive tract. In 1884, he was first to suture a perforated bowel in a patient with severe peritonitis.

    Mikulicz has been called the father of endoscopy. He did his pioneering oesophagoscopy and gastroscopy in Vienna in 1883. He was the first to describe cancer of the stomach and oesophagus as seen through an endoscope, which he published as in Przegląd Lekarski (Medical Review) in the article "Resekcja odźwiernika z powodu raka..." ("Resection of the Pylorus as the Result of Cancer..."). He also predicted the significance of endoscopy for the diagnosis of cancer of the digestive tract. Another Polish oncologist, Antoni Jurasz, has also gained renown abroad. He created his own surgical school and was also a university professor in Brazil and at the Polish Medical School of the University of Edinburgh. His greatest accomplishment, which he developed in 1931, was the connection of the pancreas and stomach. Known as the "Jurasz procedure", this method is still used today.

    The development of the medical sciences has been closely tied with the health problems of the times researchers were living in. During the period of typhus and typhoid epidemics, it seemed that the most urgent task facing medicine was to discover the origins of the disease and find effective methods of treatment. One answer to these challenges was Tadeusz Browicz's discovery in 1874 of the bacillus that causes typhoid fever. He demonstrated the etiological relationship of the bacteria and the disease. These are known erroneously today as "organism of D'Ebert". Browicz's greatest achievement was the discovery in 1898 of stellate cells of the endothelium of the hepatic ducts. He initiated research that is still being continued today by Professor Ryszard Gryglewski, who is also studying the endothelium. Studies of this kind will help in the development of effective modern medicines to prevent atherosclerosis.

    Rudolf Weigl also made major contributions in the fight against serious diseases. Weigl conducted studies on exanthematic typhus and described the microbe that causes it (rickettsia); he developed a method to cultivate exanthematic typhus in the intestines of lice, which made it possible to develop a human inoculation against that disease. He was nominated four times for the Nobel Prize. Professor Hilary Koprowski invented an oral polio vaccine (Heine-Medin disease). Its use significantly diminished the number of polio cases and mortalities in children-from several thousand a year to a negligible number. Koprowski was an outstanding virologist and immunologist, who for many years directed the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. Wiktor Dega was also well known for his work on polio. He was an orthopaedist, served as an expert for the World Health Organisation, and was a pioneer in the use of physiotherapy for victims of accidents and those who have had polio. Wiktor Dega not only constructed orthopaedic apparatus and devices, but also developed new therapies and operations for congenital dislocations of the hip. The orthopaedist Adam Gruca also invented various orthopaedic instruments and appliances. In addition to their work to combat diseases and alleviate their effects, Polish medical scientists have made numerous discoveries in physiology. Many of them helped found entirely new branches of medicine, such as endocrinology and genetics.

    Napoleon Nikodem Cybulski's discoveries were of key importance for physiology. In 1895 Cybulski discovered the hormones produced by the adrenal medulla (adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine). Because these were the first hormones to be described, Cybulski may be regarded as a pioneer of endocrinology. Cybulski and Adolf Beck studied the circulatory system and the electrophysiology of the brain. In 1890, they were among the first to obtain an encephalogram of the cerebral cortex. Marceli Nencki conducted research on biological and chemical processes with proved a breakthrough in medicine. He and Leon Marchlewski determined the structure of haem and extracted haemin from haemoglobin. Their work confirmed the chemical unity of the plant and animal kingdoms. Thanks to the discoveries of Jakub Parnas, we can explain the cycle of cell metabolism (glycogen phosphorolysis), which allows muscles to contract properly. This is known as the EMP cycle, which stands for Embden, Meyerhof and Paras. Working in collaboration with the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Parnas was one of the first (in 1937) to use radioactive isotopes in metabolism research.

    Tadeusz Krwawicz was one of the pioneers of modern ophthamology. He was the first to give a lecture on ocular cryotherapy (a method in which the cornea is frozen in order to remove cataracts), which he carried out in Chicago, in November 1962. His method of cryoextraction is generally considered to be the third great step in the history of ophthamology, after A. von Graef's use of iridectomy in glaucoma surgery and J. Gonin's repair of retinal tears. Stanisław Konturek's discovery has made it possible to disprove an erroneous hypothesis about the causes of stomach ulcers. He argued that stomach ulcers formed due to the presence of Helicobacter pylori in the digestive tract, which could also cause cancer in that organ. Professor Konturek and his team developed a test which detects the presence of the bacteria, and also antibiotic therapy which allows the microorganisms to be eliminated within a week.

     

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