Shortly from history of the Institute

A Brief History of the Institute of Biology at the Medical Faculty of Charles University

The Institute of Biology at the Medical Faculty of Charles University was established in 1911 by Professor Vladislav Růžička (1870-1934) as the first institute of biology within medical faculties. Prior to this, medical students had studied biology at the Faculty of Philosophy. Initially, the Institute was located in the Kaulich house on Charles Square until 1926, before moving to the Medical School building on Kateřinská Street. Professor Růžička developed the concept of General Biology, encompassing both cytology and genetics.

The second Head of the Institute, Professor MUDr. Jan Bělehrádek (1896-1980), relocated the Institute to the new Purkyně Institute building at Albertov 4. Professor Bělehrádek authored the first textbook on General Biology for medical students in the country (Prague, 1934). His "Prague school of biology" was based on the hierarchy of living systems. During World War II, Professor Bělehrádek was imprisoned in Terezin. After the war in 1945, he rebuilt the Institute of Biology, which had been completely destroyed by the Nazis. As the rector of Charles University, he resumed teaching activities just a few weeks after the war. In 1949, Professor Bělehrádek left the country and worked for UNESCO and later in London until his passing.

The third Head of the Institute, Professor MUDr. et RNDr. Bohumil Sekla, DrSc. (1901-1987), was renowned for his staunch defense of genetics during the era of Lysenko's domination. He was the first to initiate modern genetics education and research in the Czech Republic after 1965. In 1969, the Department of Human and Medical Genetics was established within the Biological Institute, followed by the Department of Medical Genetics within the Teaching Hospital a year later.

From 1970 to 1990, Professor MUDr. Otakar Štark, DrSc. (1925-1991) served as the Head of the Institute, achieving significant results in immunogenetics. He introduced the first course in Clinical Genetics at the Medical Faculties in the Czech Republic and supported the development of Medical Genetics. Associated Professor MUDr. František Soukup, CSc., (1933-2000) led the Institute from 1990 to 1992, followed by Associated Professor MUDr. Jan Kapras, CSc. (1940-2001) from 1993 until his sudden death. From 2001 to 2016, Associated Professor MUDr. Milada Kohoutová, CSc., headed the Institute.

In October 2016, the Institute merged with the former Institute of Cell Biology and Pathology to form the Institute of Biology and Medical Genetics at the First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, and General University Hospital in Prague. Concurrently, Professor Ondřej Šeda, M.D., Ph.D., was appointed as the new Head of the merged Institute. The research focus of the Institute of Biology and Medical Genetics includes molecular genetics of neoplasias and inherited diseases, cytogenetics, experimental oncogenetics, research of genetic underpinnings of multifactorial diseases, pharmacogenomics and nutrigenomics. The Institute ranks among the most productive in the First Faculty of Medicine in terms of published papers and citation index. Additionally, the development of diagnostic and preventive methods in medical genetics is a key area of interest. The Department of Medical Genetics of the General University Hospital became a part of the Institute on January 1st, 1998.

 

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