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Polish Journal of Pathology
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vol. 69
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Professor Andrew Obrzut – the first head of the Pathological Anatomy Department (1896-1910) of the Medical Faculty of Jan Casimir University in Lviv

Dmytro Zerbino, Liliya I. Volos

Pol J Pathol 2018; 69 (2): 182-184
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Department of Pathological Anatomy, Lviv National Medical University named after Danylo Halytsky, Lviv, Ukraine
Andrew Obrzut (Andrzej Obrzut, 2.02.1854 – 29.09.1910) was a professor of medicine in Prague and Lviv, a student of the founder of the Czechoslovak school of pathologists Yaroslav Hlava. He was born on 2.02.1854 in the town of Siolkov, Gribovsky district (Powiat grybowski) into the family of the peasant Joseph.
He graduated from the New Sonch Gymnasium (Nowy S¹cz, Poland). In 1875-1881 he studied at the Medical Faculty of Jagiellonian University and received a diploma of the Doctor of Medicine. In 1881-1883 he worked as a military doctor in Prague and at the same time specialised in pathological anatomy under the Austrian pathologist Professor Chiari (Chiariego). A few years later he published an article in which he presented a number of cases of developmental defects and proposed his own theory of forming hydrocephalus in patients. In 1887, H. Chiari published a classic monograph on the subject. Today it is known of the “Chiari’s malformation” – the lower of the tonsils of the cerebellum to the large occipital hole with compression of the medulla oblongata. In severe cases (Chiari’s malformation) there also exists hydrocephalus, syringomyelia, and meningomyelocele.
In 1883-1887 Andrew Obrzut worked as an assistant to Professor Yaroslav Hlava (Jaroslav Hlava, 7.05.1855 – 31.10.1924) in the Department of Pathological Anatomy at Charl’s University in Prague and in 1887 defended his dissertation for the post-doctorate scientific degree of medicine on the topic “About blood’s participation in the onset of the inflammatory process”. The scholarship, which was obtained during 1889-1891, made it possible for him to get further specialisation under Professor F. Recklinghausen in Strasbourg and Professor A. Cornell in Paris.
In 1891-1896 Andrew Obrzut was a professor in the Department of Pathological Anatomy at the University in Prague. In 1896, he accepted the proposal of Yaroslav Hlava to organise a department of pathological anatomy at Lviv University. In the same year, the young doctor of medicine with a European medical diploma, Andrew Obrzut, arrived at Lviv University.
The Department of Pathological Anatomy of the Faculty of Medicine began its educational and scientific life in a unique three-storey patho-anatomical building (architect – Josef Braunseis) with two lecture rooms, four sectional halls (one with an amphitheatre), a large pathological laboratory, a large museum hall, study rooms, cabinets for projectors, and teachers. It is necessary to emphasise that 2017 is the year of the 180th anniversary of Josef Braunseis (1837-1915), an architect whose life and creativity was closely linked with the history of Lviv. His work is an example of progressive architectural thought, realised in numerous buildings, intended as educational, scientific, and medical institutions. The masterpiece of the architect’s art is considered to be the architectural ensemble of the medical faculty of Lviv University (52 Pekarska St.), which was opened on 9th September 1894. This building is not only a masterpiece among the educational buildings of the city, but also the pride of many generations of scholars. The architectural ensemble of J. Braunseis retains historical value that ought to be preserved for future generations.
On 9th December 1896, the first lecture “On the Importance of Pathological Anatomy for Medical Education” was read to the students of the third year of study in the Faculty of Medicine of Lviv University, in the lecture hall, by the doctor of medicine, Professor Andrew Obrzut. On the same day, after the lecture, the professor made the first (in the department) demonstrative autopsy and compiled a protocol for a pathological study of a sectional case. It is still stored in the archive of the “Museum of Human Diseases”. The staff of the department consisted of Professor A. Obrzut, assistants R. Kutchera and J. Kzhishkovsky, two laboratory assistants, and one anatomist. In 1904 Doctor W. Nowicki joined the staff of the department. In the organisation of studying, scientific researches they were guided by the ideas of Professor Yaroslav Hlava and by the principles and methods of the Czech School of Pathologists [1, 2, 4, 5].
Simultaneously with the organisation of the department, Andrew Obrzut founded the Museum of Human Diseases in Lviv University. The first exhibits were brought by him from Charles University of Prague, all that became the beginning of scientific life of now the one of the oldest institutes of pathology in Ukraine. At the university, a scientist-pathologist worked until 1910, or rather, until the last days of his life. Founded by Andrew Obrzut, the archive of pathologic anatomical sections is kept to this day and is supplemented all the time. Curently there are 89 thousand protocols (for 120 years) in the archive.
Andrew Obrzut has always accentuated to students and doctors “[...] the greater knowledge of pathological anatomy is, the greater the confidence in diagnosis and the better individualisation and rational treatment, and ultimately – correct, competent, and specific epicrisis are” [“About the importance of pathological anatomy for medical science” (O znaczeniu anatomii patologicznej w naukach lekarskich) Przegl Lek 1897].
The scientific achievements of A. Obrzut are summarised in publications published in German, Polish, French, and Czech language: “About giant cells in inflammatory infiltrates and some tumours” (O komórkach olbrzymich w naciekach zapalnych i w niektórych nowotworach) Przegl Lek 1887; “Caseous pneumonia” (Pneumonia caseosa) Praha 1887; “About the histology of Bright’s disease” (Przyczynek do histologii choroby Brighta) Przegl Lek 1888; “About haemorrhagic inflammation of the kidneys and the importance of haemorrhages in the renal parenchyma” (O zapaleniu nerek wybroczynowym i znaczeniu wybroczyn w mi¹¿szu nerkowym) Lek 1888; “New research on the pathogenesis of glomerulonephritis” (Nouvelles recherches sur la pathogenie de glomerulonephrite) Arch Med 1889; “About blood’s participation in the onset of the inflammatory process” (O udziale krwi w powstawaniu produktów zapalnych) Przegl Lek 1890, 1891. In particular, in the article Przyczynek do histologii zapaleñ klêbków Malpighiego (glomerulonephritis), presented in 1888 in the issue of Jagiellonian University, Andrew Obrzut raised the problem of structural changes in glomerulus and morphological diagnosis of glomerulonephritis, which was the main problem in clinical nephrology and the most common cause of chronic kidney disorder. Today, patients with glomerulonephritis constitute the main contingent of the department of chronic haemodialysis and kidney transplantation.
Andrew Obrzut was the organiser and a participant of the V and VI medical congresses in Poland. On 17th-22nd July 1888, the V Congress of Physicians and Naturalists was held in Lviv. At the congress, A. Obrzut delivered a report “About haemorrhagic inflammation of the kidneys and the importance of haemorrhages in the renal parenchyma”. The fifth Congress (16th-20th July 1891) of Polish Physicians and Naturalists, which was held in Krakow, was remarkable to specialists of the new achievements of A. Obrzut because he presented the results of his new pathological studies of kidney diseases in “New data on the histology of amyloid degeneration” (Nowe dane o histologii amyloidu degeneracji), which raised a discussion among a wide audience of Polish physicians and naturalists.
Together with his teacher, Professor Yaroslav Hlava, he published a two-volume textbook on pathological anatomy Patologicka anatomie a bakteriologie (Prague 1894, 2nd edition 1902, 799 pages) [3].
Due to his special personality and significant scientific achievements, Prof. A. Obrzut formed his own scientific school in Lviv. For example, Prof. Napoleon-Jan G¹siorowski (28th June 1876, Lviv – 27th June 1941, Lviv) studied scleroma, tetanus, dysentery, and cholera, and in 1902 he founded the histomicrobiological laboratory and subsequently organised and headed the Department of Microbiology.
Jusef Antony Markowski (29th October 1874, Lviv – 29th May 1947, D¹browa Tarnowska, now Malopolska Voivodeship, Poland) – anatomist, professor (1913), active member of the Krakow Academy of Sciences (1930), who graduated from Lviv University (1900) – where he worked intermittently: during 1913-1920 and 1922-1944 – organised a micro-, macro-, and X-ray photometric laboratory. He organised and headed the Department of Normal and Topographic Anatomy, from 1920 – the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine; 1920-1922 ­– Professor of the Department of Normal Anatomy at the University of Poznan, where he founded the Anatomical Museum. He participated in the work of the Red Cross service in Lviv, studied anatomy and physiology of the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system, and he described the histogenesis of the solid membrane of the brain, and the development and structure of its arterial and venous channels. He also examined the toxic effects of nicotine on the activity of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
Summing up a brief historical review of the foundation of the Department of Pathological Anatomy, let us recall the words of the prominent Ukrainian poet Maxim Rylsky: “Whoever does not know his past is not worth his future. He, who does not honour the prominent people, also is not worthy of respect”.
And today, when the Department of Pathological Anatomy and Forensic Medicine of Lviv National Medical University named after Danylo Halytsky celebrates its 120th anniversary, we bow our heads in honour of the distinguished scientists – founders, wonderful educators, and researchers – and continue to write about the history, traditions of high-quality education, the union of education, science and practice, international recognition, and continuous improvement of training of specialists in accordance with the requirements of modern society.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


1. Estreicher K. Bibliografia Polska. Kraków 1890; 362.
2. Hahn W. Kronika Uniwersytetu Lwowskiego. Lwów, 1912; 23.
3. Hlava J. Pathologická anatomie a bakteriologie. Praga, 1894; 799.
4. Jasiński Z. Działalność organizacji polskich w Pradze na przełomie XIX i XX wieku/Annales Universitatis Mariae Curie-Skłodowska. Sectio F: Historia 2000; 54/55 (1999/2000): 297-316.
5. Pamiętnik jubileuszu 25-lecia prof. Korczyńskiego. Kraków 1900; 219.

Address for correspondence

Dmytro Zerbino
Department of Pathological Anatomy
and the Museum of Human Diseases
Lviv National Medical University named after Danylo Halytsky
Pekarska Street 69,
Lviv, 79000, Ukraine
e-mail: dmytro.zerbino@gmail.com
Copyright: © 2018 Polish Association of Pathologists and the Polish Branch of the International Academy of Pathology This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.
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