History of the Institute of Medical Biochemistry and Laboratory Diagnostics

History of the Institute of Medical Biochemistry 

The history of the Institute goes back up to the year 1883, when the formerly united “Universitas Carolino-Ferdinandea” in Prague was divided into the Czech and German Universities (1882) and the Czech Faculty of Medicine was founded (1883). As the original Institute of Medical Chemistry it represents the first institution of its kind among the Czech universities.    

Its founder became MUDr. Jan Horbaczewski (1854-1942), a 29-year-old Ukrainian graduate of the University in Vienna and assistant of professor Ernst Ludwig at the same University. Although being very young , he earned scientific reputation by his paper on the preparation of uric acid by careful melting a mixture of glycine and urea, published in German on just 40 lines a year before. (It was the young author´s third publication.) This was regarded as a great achievement, as this synthesis was attempted without success by the famous Friedrich Wöhler (1800-1892), who synthesized urea in 1828 and was the first chemist demonstrating the possibility to produce in the laboratory organic substances found until that time only in living systems. With the interruption of the 6 war-years 1939-1945, when the Nazi administration imposed a ban on the Czech Universities, the Institute has been existing in its original location until the present time.     

Professor Horbaczewski and his disciples, promoted by himself to professors´ grades, became the founders of the teaching subject medical chemistry at all the Czech Faculties of Medicine. This was strengthened by the fact that Horbaczewski compiled the four-volume Czech textbook of medical chemistry (1904-1909) with its 1309 pages and its substantial part dealing with physiological chemistry, which was the original term for biochemistry at the former medical schools.Thus he may be regarded as a co-founder of Czech biochemistry. He was appointed four times as the Dean of the Czech Faculty of Medicine and once as the Rector of the Czech University in Prague and became also the first Minister of Health of the Austrian Government. Profesor Horbaczewski was active at the Faculty of Medicine until 1917, i.e. 34 years. His successor at the Institute of Medical Chemistry of Charles University in Prague was his disciple professor MUDr. Emanuel Formánek (1896-1929), who continued in the studies of nitrogen-containing substances in the organism and specialized also in food chemistry, pharmacognostics and toxicology. He served also as the acting Chairman of the Institute of Pharmacology and as the Dean of the Faculty, and held the Chairman´s post at his Institute until 1929. The last pre-war Chairman of the Institute during the years 1930-1939 was another disciple of Horbaczewski, professor MUDr. Antonín Hamsík, DrSc.(1878-1963), who was known for his research on digestive enzymes and haemoglobin derivatives. With his co-workers he wrote a five-volume Czech compendium of medical chemistry, based on the conception of Horbaczewski, which represented the subject between the two wars and shortly after the war.

Professor Hamsík was also appointed as the Dean of the Faculty before the war and in the years 1945-1948 he was acting as the founder and first Chairman of the 2nd Institute of Medical Chemistry in Prague. The merits for the re-opening and reconstruction of the original Institute, which after 1945 became the 1st Institute of Medical Chemistry, belong to its Chairman in the years 1945-1970, professor MUDr. Dr.Ing. Karel Kácl, DrSc., who established a department for chemical poisons at the Institute before the war and was promoted by professor Hamsík to professor´s grade. In 1953 he founded the Laboratory, which in 1956 was renamed as the Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Chemistry and until 1990 formed a part of a common chair with the 1st Institute of Medical and Forensic Chemistry. After the leave of professor Kácl from the Faculty, the Chairman of both Institutes during the most difficult years 1970-1984 became his successor, docent MUDr. RNDr. Břetislav Večerek, CSc. After his premature death the chairmanship during the years 1984-1990 was awarded to his disciple and successor professor MUDr. Stanislav Štípek, DrSc. (born 1941).  In 1990 the common chair was divided into two separate institutions. The 1st Institute of Medical Chemistry and Biochemistry was headed during the years 1990-1998 by professor MUDr. Jiří Kraml, DrSc. (born 1930), who was promoted earlier by professor Kácl.  He is specialized in enzymology. The Institute for Toxicology and Forensic Chemistry existed during the same period as an independent institution, but is now a part of the Institute of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology of the Faculty. In the years 1998 – 2011 the 1st Institute of Medical Chemistry and Biochemistry  was headed by professor MUDr. Stanislav Štípek, DrSc.  again. His main research interest is biochemistry of free radicals.

The research activities of the Institute, since 2002 named Institute of Medical Biochemistry, have been focused during the last decades on selected enzyme systems, onco-foetal antigens and on the origin and action of free radicals in the organism. The Institute participated with the Institute of Biochemistry and Experimental Oncology (formerly 2nd Institute of Medical Chemistry and Biochemistry) in the teaching of the subjects medical chemistry, biochemistry and pathobiochemistry in the first 3 years of the programmes medicine and stomatology in both the Czech and English-taught courses (the latter introduced in 1992). It has participated also in the education of PhD students in the Specialist Board in Biochemistry and Pathobiochemistry as a part of the post-graduate programmes in biomedicine at Charles University in Prague.

History of the Institute of Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Diagnostics

of the First  Faculty of Medicine of Charles University in Prague Central Biochemical Laboratories of the University Hospital in Prague (later Department of Clinical Biochemistry of the former 1st University  Hospital ) were formed  in 1948 on the basis of the biochemical laboratory of the 1st Department of Internal Medicine of the University Hospital in Prague thanks to the firm effort of Professor Jaroslav Hořejší, M.D., DrSc. (1905 – 1997), corresponding member of  the  Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. He has become the founder of  the subject clinical biochemistry as a new branch of biochemistry in former Czechoslovakia due to his professional and organizing activities. Thanks to his tireless work and deep theoretical and practical knowledge, received partly during his study visit  abroad (Great Britain), he established a top workplace, which had a marked influence on further progress in all aspects of the field. Professor Hořejší was specialized in hepatology and his scientific work was devoted to the investigation of the influence of thiol groups on the dissociation curve of hemoglobin and  to the methods of  fractionation of  human plasma proteins. For his scientific merits he was awarded the Czechoslovak State Prize.  In his laboratory Professor Hořejší was able to use the unique  free electrophoresis apparatus and photometers donated by the organization American Relief for Czechoslovakia after world war II in 1948.  At that time he wrote the first manuals for laboratory technicians  „Chemical  Investigation in Internal Medicine“  with many re-editions, and founded the first formal school in Prague, which educated  technical personnel  for  the work in the chemical laboratories of various clinical departments of domestic hospitals and outpatient units. Other monographs were devoted to human plasma proteins, hepatology,  and to the new clinical subject  called Clinical Biochemistry. Under the guidance of  Professor Hořejší many graduate specialists of the new subject were educated in his laboratory, who became heads of the newly founded Departments of Clinical Biochemistry in Czech and Slovak hospitals.  

The Department of Clinical Biochemistry  of the former 2nd University Hospital in Prague originated from the Central Laboratory of Policlinic in 1950 when the new University Health Centre Building with many outpatient units (Policlinic)  on Charles Square was opened. It moved there from the Myslikova Street, where it was situated before. The first director of this Laboratory was Professor Stanislav Janousek, M.D. (1900 - 1958). Dr. Janousek led this Laboratory  and the outpatient  Department of Internal Medicine  as well. Although his original specialization was cardiology, he had an immense interest in research, especially in the branch which is now called Clinical Biochemistry.  He had been interested in this field being 30 and his academic experience in England after World War II confirmed this orientation. Central Laboratory of the Policlinic acquired the best equipment of its time and performed special analyses as the first and single outpatient unit laboratory of its kind in the whole country. Prof. Janousek introduced his own original modifications of new methods, particularly in the estimation of enzyme activities (including AMS, ALP, ACP with tartrate labile fraction, AST, ALT), hormones and trace elements. He also introduced polarography in his clinical laboratory and elaborated  an original polarographic test for pepsinogen and cathepsin in addition to the polarographic estimation of mucoproteins. He was the first one in the country who employed laboratory tests on thyroid function. At that time, his Central Laboratory covered biochemistry and hematology as well. The Laboratory was able to evaluate bone marrow punctures, vaginal smears and sputum and cytological samples. All this work was performed by a staff consisting of a single medical doctor, two graduate chemists, fifteen technicians, one nurse and about five members of the assisting and administrative personnel.

As a part of of the  Faculty of Medicine, the Department was affiliated with the First Department of Internal Medicine. After the premature death of Professor Janousek, his successor became Professor Jiri Homolka, M.D. (1916 - 1991), who had been the Head of the Central Laboratory of  the University Childrens Hospital before. He worked at the outpatient (Policlinic) Department of Clinical Biochemistry from 1959 until 1984, during which time he was involved in a number of different medical, academic and political activities. In 1962 he was awarded the Doctor of Sciences degree, and in 1966 was appointed  Professor of Biochemistry at the  Faculty of General Medicine (now the First Faculty of Medicine of Charles University in Prague). In his scientific work he was engaged particularly in micromethods and in polarographic analyses of proteins. He published more than 200 scientific works and 18 monographs. He was author of 7 patents and also authored or contributed to several  textbooks for medical schools. The two-part compendium "Clinical Biochemistry" and "Methods in Clinical Biochemistry"  focused chiefly on micromethods (Avicenum, Prague 1969 and 1971) belong to the most famous ones. After Professor Homolka's retirement in 1984 he was succeeded by his former disciple and collaborator Professor Josef Hyanek, M.D. (*1933). His interest was focused on the study of laboratory and clinical problems of inherited metabolic disorders, especially those in newborns, and he gradually established a well-equipped new section within the Department at the Policlinic. Until recently he published about 200 scientific works in this field, two monographs and numerous chapters in the Czech and Slovak scientific books. In 1984 he was awarded an  Associate Professor degree, and in 1986 a Professorship of Biochemistry at the  Faculty of General Medicine of Charles University in Prague. He remained the Head of the Department until 1990, when the Associate Professor Petr Schneiderka, M.D. took over the office.

In 1993 its Section of Metabolic Disorders became an independent Institute as a part of the First  Faculty of Medicine of Charles University in Prague and General University Hospital. The Institute of Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Diagnostics of the General University Hospital and of the First Faculty of Medicine  of Charles University in Prague arose on January 1, 1999 from an amalgamation of Clinical Biochemical Laboratories belonging to the General University Hospital, with the medical branches of Experimental Laboratories of the Departments of Internal Medicine  of the First  Faculty of Medicine and  of the General University Hospital.   Professor Tomas Zima, M.D.  took over the office. The Institute of Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Diagnostics  included 11 laboratories. The Central Biochemical Laboratories and the Department of Clinical Biochemistry of the University Health Centre (Policlinic) on Charles Square became the basis of the merged Institute. Its role has been to provide the University Hospital, Faculties of Medicine and other health institutions with laboratory examinations, as well as with consulting and  special lab services. The sampling centre in the Policlinic Department was equipped with 12 chairs,  which has improved the comfort of patients. During the decade  1999-2009 the Core Laboratories were moved to the central campus of the General University Hospital,  U nemocnice 2. The Core Labs include the Core Chemistry Lab with a statim service and Cytogenetic and Serological Labs.  In 2004 the Laboratory of Microbiology with its ATB Centre and  Laboratory for Immunology and Allergology  were included into the  Institute, which has an synergistic effect on the analytical processes.  The Central Hematology labs with its Thrombotic Centre have merged from 2009 with the Institute as its parts. These processes lead to a greater effectiveness of laboratory diagnostics in the General University Hospital and also to a better service for other clients from  the whole Czech Republic. The individual Research Labs of the Clinical Departments of the General University Hospital  were  affiliated with the Central Research Labs being provided with a new equipment and workplace. 

History of the Institute of Medical Biochemistry and Laboratory Diagnostics

The Institute of Medical  Biochemistry of  the First Faculty of Medicine merged  with  the Institute of Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Diagnostics from 2012 with the idea to potentiate the basic research and to improve the educational process in  all branches of biochemistry at the First Faculty of Medicine of Charles University in Prague. The merged institute was named  Institute of Medical Biochemistry and Laboratory Diagnostics and is headed by Professor Tomas Zima, M.D., DrSc. 

05.10.2012  |     |   zpět na History