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:
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