] Volume 46/Number 1/Abstract 11
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Acta Parasitologica, Vol.46, No. 1, 2001, 55-57
Pawlowski Zbigniew S. (1), Tarczynski Stefan (2) - Europe and Polish parasitologists.

(1) University of Medical Sciences, A. Wrzosek Collegium, room 504, 79 Dabrowskiego Str., 60-529 Poznan; (2) Warmia and Masuria University, 5 Oczapowskiego Str., 10-957 Olsztyn-Kortowo; Poland

The history of Polish parasitology and its relations to Europe was greatly influenced, as was the history of the country itself, by two World Wars (1914-1918 and 1939-1945).

Parasitologists up to 1939

Before 1918, during the partition of Poland, three famous parasitologists Professors Konstanty Janicki, Michal Marian Siedlecki and Witold Stefanski studied in the leading European parasitological institutes and after the First World War returned to Poland to create three centres of general, protozoological and veterinary parasitology. Professor Konstanty Janicki (1876-1932) was one of the extensively educated Polish parasitologists. He studied for 4 years under Leuckart in Leipzig and then under Weismann in Freiburg and Zschukke in Basel. He spent 5 years with Grassi in Rome and at two Swiss Universities. In 1917, working in Lausanne and partly in Neuchâtel, together with another Pole Dr Felix Rosen, he described the life cycle of Diphyllobothrium latum, the first parasite known to have two consecutive hosts. Professor Janicki was the author of cercomer theory and introduced the original concepts of parabasal apparatus and karyomastigont; the latter was of basic significance for understanding the structure and systematic of Protozoa. On his return to Poland in 1919 Professor Janicki took the Chair of Zoology at Warsaw University and contributed substantially to the creation of the “Warsaw School of Parasitologists” focused on the general biological aspects of parasitology. Among his students and continuators of his ideas were: Eugeniusz Grabda, Jadwiga Grabdowa, Mikolaj Janicki, Stanislaw Markowski, Wlodzimierz Michajlow, Zdzislaw Raabe and Wincenty Leslaw Wisniewski.
Professor Michal Marian Siedlecki (1873-1940 in Sachsenhausen) studied at the Institute of Zoology in Berlin under Schaudinn, in College de France and in Pasteur Institute in Paris as well as in two Marine Stations at Naples and Wimereux. In Poland he was professor at the Chair of Zoology at Universities in Wilno and Krakow. Professor Siedlecki was known as a founder of modern knowledge of the Sporozoa; he described the life cycle of Eimeria schubergi. His activities in nature protection, especially in marine environment, were well known. He was a member of the Board of International Office of Nature Protection. In Poland he created the Marine Fish Institute (1928) in Gdynia, where Professor Janina Janiszewska worked.
Professor Witold Stefanski (1891–1973), was a parasitologist of a younger generation. He studied free living nematodes under Professor Jung in Geneva University (1913–1917). In Poland in 1925 he took over the Chair of Zoology and Parasitology at the Veterinary Faculty of Warsaw University. His contribtions to the life cycles of Dioctophyme renale and Hypoderma bovis were considerable. Together with Gustaw Poluszynski, professor at Lwów University, he was a founder of the Polish School of Veterinary Parasitology. The School expanded considerably after 1945; Professor Stefanski, with his leading position among researchers in biology, was the founder of the Department of Parasitology of Polish Academy of Sciences in 1952, which in 1980 turned into the Witold Stefanski Institute of Parasitology, directed now by Professor Andrzej Malczewski. Among the students and assistants of Stefanski there were: Bogdan Czaplinski, Jan Drozdz, Andrzej Fagasinski, Barbara Machnicka- Rowinska, Andrzej Malczewski, Janina Pastuszko, Wieslaw Slusarski, Marian Swietlikowski, Stefan Tarczynski and Eugeniusz Zarnowski.
At the time, when the pathogenicity of Giardia lamblia was at least a controversial issue, in Poland Professor Jozef Waclaw Grott (18..-1973?), an internal medicine specialist with a hobby – giardiosis, was active. He worked in the same hospital in Warszawa, where in the mid-XIX century Dr Vilem Duszan Lambl, a Czech, described Giardia intestinalis. It is worth noting that Dr Lambl is buried in Warsaw. Professor Grott widely used mepacrine in Poland; it was introduced in 1933 by Professor Galli-Valerio from Lausanne for treatment of giardiosis. An effective treatment of giardiosis made possible an objective evaluation of the pathogenic role of Giardia in humans and contributed significantly to the clinical knowledge of giardiosis. Dr Ludwik Anigstein (1891–1975) worked at the State Institute of Hygiene, founded and directed until 1933 by Dr Ludwik Rajchman, who later becames Director of the Department of Hygiene at the League of Nations in Geneva and after the Second World War one of the creators of UNICEF. In 1926 it was Dr Anigstein, who organised the Department of Parasitology at the State Institute of Hygiene in Warszawa. As a first class malariologist he served as a consultant in several African and Asian countries and was a member of the Malaria Commission at the League of Nations in Geneva. In the late 1930s he emigrated to the US and became a professor at Gallveston University in Texas. During the Second World War the State Institute of Hygiene in Warszawa was a “shelter” for several Polish parasitologists involved in the production of a vaccine against typhus. Among these were Professors Czeslaw Gerwel, Jerzy Morzycki and Stefan Tarczynski. Professor Morzycki (1905–1954) reactivated the Marine and Tropical Medicine Institute in Gdansk and was a co-founder of the Polish Parasitological Society and its first President. After the World War II the staff of the State Institute of Hygiene, especially Dr Mikolaj Janicki and Professor Zofia Dymowska, were actively involved in the eradication of malaria in Poland and in the training of a cadre of parasitologists for the Epidemiological and Sanitary Stations throughout the country. Last but not least one has to mention Rudolf Weigl (1883-1957), professor of Biology at the Medical Faculty in Lwow University, director of Weigl’s Institute in Low and Krakow and finally (1948-1951) professor of the Department of Biology at the Medical Faculty of Poznan University. As his youngest assistant I (ZSP) may confirm that Professor Weigl's academic activity in Poznan contributed substantially to the formation of the Medical Parasitology School in this town represented by Professors Zdzislaw Czapski, Czeslaw Gerwel, Witold Kasprzak, Zbigniew Pawlowski, and Feliks Piotrowski. Professor Weigl, cytologist and zoologist with a strong interest in medical problems, gained his international reputation as the inventor of the first vaccine against typhus, which saved hundreds of thousands of people during World War II. Professor Weigl was an international expert in lice - Pediculus vestimenti, the intestine of which was used as an in vivo culture of Rickettsia provazeki.

Parasitologists after 1945

After the World War II one can observe a further development and progress in general parasitology (Professor Wincenty Leslaw Wisniewski and his students: Bozena Grabda-Kazubska, Leokadia Jarecka, Katarzyna Niewiadomska, Teresa Sulgustowska); parasitic protozoology (Professor Zdzislaw Raabe and his assistant Stanislaw Kazubski); environmental parasitology (Professor Wlodzimierz Michajlow and his students Alicja Guttowa, Krystyna Kisielewska, Teresa Pojmanska, Krystyna Rybicka) and veterinary parasitology in Warszawa (Professor Witold Stefanski); in Lublin (Professors Alfred Trawinski and Stefan Furmaga) and Wroclaw (Professor Zbigniew Kozar). It was also the time when medical parasitology developed in Poznan, Lodz and Gdansk (Professors Czeslaw Gerwel, Jozef Waclaw Grott, Jerzy Morzycki). In the harsh postwar circumstances Polish parasitologists keep closely co-operated with leading European parasitological institutions and later on exerted a strong influence on the collaboration between various groups of European and World parasitologists.
The young Polish parasitologists benefited much from the experience and kind help of the heads of parasitological institutions in Europe and in the US. First links were established with France (Professors Alain G. Chabaud, Jean M. Doby, and Robert Ph. Dolfus) and the United Kingdom (Percy C.C. Garnham, Brian Maegraith, Walace Peters, James Desmond Smith, and Lord Lawson Soulsby). Later on Polish parasitologists found support from the USA (Professor Bronislaw Hoenigberg, Myron Schultz, James Steele), Germany (Professors Karl Enigk, Werner Mohr, Gerhard Piekarski) and Switzerland (Professors Jean G. Baer and Johannes Eckert). Friendly and good working relations were established with Russian parasitologists (Professors Evgenii Pavlovskii and his daughter Irina E. Bychovskaya-Pavlovskaya. Konstantin Skryabin, Z.G. Wasilkova), Czechoslovakian parasitologists (Professors Jan Hovorka and Otto Jirovec), Hungarian (Professor Aleksander Kotlan), Ukrainian (Professor Aleksander Markewitch) and Bulgarian parasitologists (Professor Konstanty Matoff). It did not take long for Polish parasitologists to start to influence the co-operation of various international communities of parasitologists. The Polish Parasitological Society, founded in 1948 as one of the first parasitological societies in Europe, an active Parasitological Committee and the Institute of Parasitology of the Polish Academy of Sciences created opportunities for a wide international collaboration. In the years 1954-1970, the congresses of Polish Parasitological Society were sometimes the only link between the parasitologists from the East with those from the West across the “Iron Curtain”. Professors Stefanski and Kozar were among the initiators of the most important international parasitological organisations: the International Commission on Trichinellosis (1958), the International Commission on Toxoplasmosis (1958), the World Federation of Parasitologists (1960) and the European Federation of Parasitologists (1966). Professors Zbigniew Kozar and Zbigniew Pawlowski were presidents of the International Commission on Trichinellosis (ICT), in the years 1964-1972 and 1976-1980, respectively. The secretariat of ICT was in Poland until the year 2000. Professor Zbigniew Kozar was among the founders of the World Federation of Parasitology (1960-1972) and its vice-president; Professor Bogdan Czaplinski was the president of WFP in the years 1978-1982. The first president of the European Federation of Parasitologists was Professor Witold Stefanski (1966-1971), and the vice-presidents were Professors Zbigniew Kozar (1971-1972) and Zbigniew Pawlowski (1973-1980). Since 1984, Polish parasitologists have been represented on the Board of the European Federation: Professors Katarzyna Niewiadomska (1984-1992) and Teresa Pojmanska (1996-2000). Polish parasitologists were the organisers of several international parasitological congresses and conferences such as:

  • Conferences of International Commission on Trichinellosis, Wroclaw 1960 and 1969, Poznan 1976
  • VI International Congress of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Warszawa, 1974
  • Environmental Parasitology Seminar within UNESCO Man and Biosphere programme, Warszawa, 1975
  • IV Congress of the World Federation of Parasitologists, Warszawa, 1978
  • Second Environmental Parasitology Seminar (PARMAB II), Warszawa, 1978
  • Conference of the Council of European Schools and Institutes of Tropical Medicine, Poznan, 1978
  • VI International Congress of Protozoology, Warszawa, 1981
  • VIII Multicolloquium of European Federation of Parasitologists, Poznan, 2000.
    There had been Polish parasitologists, working as staff members of the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and being members of the Council of European Schools of Tropical Medicine, International Federation for Tropical Medicine, European Network on Research in Congenital Toxoplasmosis, Informal WHO Group on Research in Echinococcosis, International Association of Hydatidology and International Zoonoses Association.
    In conclusion one may say that Polish parasitology may be proud of its strong links with European and World parasitology. Polish parasitologists benefited considerably from the collaboration with parasitological institutions abroad but they have re-paid their debt to the international parasitological community by initiation of some international parasitological federations and commissions, which are still active today. One may expect that the international links between parasitologists in Europe and in the world will be stronger after the VIII Multicolloquium of European Federation of Parasitologists, for which this review has been prepared.

    Acknowledgements. Authors are indebted to Professors Stanislaw Kazubski and Katarzyna Niewiadomska for their valuable additions and comments to the manuscript. The original presentation, including several photographs, is available on CD-ROM through the Polish Parasitological Society and at the Acta Parasitologica Internet page http://www.ipar.pan.pl/acta.

    Page compiled by Aleksander H.Kedra. Last modification: 04-04-2001