About the Institute

The Institute of Histology and Embryology was founded in 1921 and has a special position at the Faculty of Medicine of the Charles University in Bratislava. Histology and embryology are not only theoretical, but also practical clinical disciplines, without the knowledge of which no doctor can do without.The Institute of Histology and Embryology of the Faculty of Medicine of Charles University is a modern scientific and pedagogical workplace. Specialized laboratories are used for the preparation of histological preparations for the needs of practical teaching of students and for research. In addition to the use of classical histology methods, the department specializes in histochemistry, immunohistochemistry and preparation of samples for transmission and scanning electron microscopy. In addition to light microscopes with fluorescence and a digital camera, the Institute also includes a Centre for Electron Microscopic Laboratory Methods suitable for elemental analysis.Our institute provides undergraduate teaching for the study programmes of general medicine, dentistry and biomedical physics, under the direction of the head of prof. RNDr. Ivan Varga, PhD. Within the framework of undergraduate teaching, there are compulsory courses Histology and Embryology 1. + 2., as well as a compulsory elective course Clinical Embryology and Reproductive Medicine (for students of the 4th year). In the framework of doctoral studies, selected teachers are involved in teaching the subjects New Research Trends in Morphological Sciences, Dissertation I and II, Dissertation Examination, Dissertation Defence, Introduction to Scientific Research 1 and Functional Anatomy of Human Reproduction and Clinical Embryology. In addition to teaching activities, the staff and doctoral students are also engaged in scientific research tasks, which is evidenced by a number of professional publications and participation in prestigious Slovak and foreign professional events and congresses, and the successful solution of grant projects. The latest knowledge obtained is then passed back to the students, the most active of whom are actively involved in the scientific activities of the Institute.



History and present of the Institute of Histology and Embryology

Chairpersons of the Institute of Histology and Embryology

Prof. MUDr. Zdeněk Frankenberger 1922  1932, 1936 – 1938

Prof. MUDr. Jan Florian 1932 – 1936

Prof. MUDr. Július Ledényi-Ladziansky 1939 – 1943

Doc. MUDr. Ladislav Bolcek 1943 – 1945

Akademik Ivan Stanek 1945 – 1972

Doc. MUDr. Samuel Repáš, CSc. 1972 – 1980

Prof. MUDr. Karol Kapeller. DrSc. 1980 – 1990

Prof. MUDr. Jozef Zlatoš, DrSc. 1990 – 2005

Prof. MUDr. Štefan Polák, CSc. 2005 – 2022

Prof. RNDr. Ivan Varga, Phd. et Phd. 2022 - today


History of the Institute

The Institute of Histology and Embryology at the Faculty of Medicine of Charles University was founded in 1922. Its foundation was entrusted to prof. Zdeněk Frankenberger, a pupil of Professor Otakar Srdínek at Charles University in Prague. Despite his young age, Prof. Frankenberger can be considered experienced, as in 1918 he was asked to establish the Institute of Histology at the newly founded University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. After his arrival in Bratislava, Prof. Frankenberger was appointed professor of the Charles University by a decree of 18 November 1922 and subsequently had the difficult task of establishing the theoretical institutes of the Faculty of Medicine of the Charles University. He headed the Institute of Histology and Embryology from 1922 to 1932 and from 1936 to 1938. He worked at the LF UK in Bratislava at a time when the Institute of Histology and Embryology had serious spatial problems and insufficient staffing. His scientific activities included the histogenesis of Leydig cells in the testes, ossification of the hand and foot skeleton in primates, and comparative morphology. In addition to histology and embryology, Prof. Frankenberger was also distinguished by his admirable knowledge of biology, especially in the fields of paleoanthropology and zoology. Among other activities of Prof. Frankenberger, it should be mentioned that in 1930-1931 he served as the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Charles University and in 1933-1936 he headed the Institute for Normal and Topographical Anatomy of the Faculty of Medicine of Charles University.

The second head of the Institute of Histology and Embryology from 1933 to 1936 was Professor MUDr. Jan Florian from Brno, a pupil of Professor Karel Studnička. After his return to Brno, he became Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Brno. He strongly condemned fascism and joined the illegal anti-fascist resistance. He was executed in Mauthausen in 1942. He left a legacy to his students that is still valid today: "Live in the truth and do not hesitate to lay down your life for it". Although Prof. Florian was in Bratislava for a short time, he managed to fascinate the physician Ivan Stanek with histology and embryology.

After Prof. Florian, Prof. Frankenberger returned to the post of head in 1936-1938. The political changes that resulted in the declaration of autonomy in 1938 also affected the university. Prof. Frankenberger was dismissed as an undesirable Czech from the services of the Faculty of Medicine on 31 December 1938. He therefore returned to Prague, took over the management of the Prague institute from Professor Srdínek and, with a minor break in 1948-1950, headed the Institute of Embryology at Charles University in Prague until 1962.

Assistant MUDr. Ladislav Bolcek was in charge of substituting lectures in histology and embryology in Bratislava. In the autumn of 1939, Professor MUDr. Július Ledényi-Ladziansky, an outstanding representative of Slovak anatomy, was entrusted with the management of the Institute of Histology and Embryology. He was the first to codify Slovak anatomical nomenclature, which formed the basis of modern medical terminology. After the unexpected death of prof. Ledényi, a private associate professor, MUDr. Ladislav Bolcek, was entrusted with the management of the Institute of Histology and Embryology in October 1943. Dr. Bolcek graduated in 1932 and already during his medical studies he was interested in histology and in the work at the Surgical Clinic. That is why he eventually applied for habilitation in the field of surgery and not in histology and embryology.

In May 1945, shortly after the end of the Second World War, the professorial staff of the Faculty of Medicine - then the Slovak University - entrusted the head of the Institute of Histology and Embryology to Ivan Stanek, M.D., who headed the Institute until his untimely death in 1972. He completed his studies at the Faculty of Medicine in 1940. Ivan Stanek's professional growth was relatively rapid, but fully deserved. Already in 1946 he habilitated to associate professor with his thesis on the reticulo-endothelial system and in 1953 he became professor. Three years later (1956) he received the degree of Doctor of Medical Sciences (DrSc.). In the early 1950s, Professor Stanek was involved in academic positions at the Faculty of Medicine. He was dean and vice-dean of the Faculty of Medicine, and chairman of the Faculty Building Committee. He was instrumental in the construction of the New Theoretical Institutes at 4 Sasinkova Street, the construction of which began in 1954. Academician Ivan Stanek was not only an organizer and an eminent scientist, but above all an excellent teacher. He considered the education of new doctors and scientists as his main mission in life. He became especially famous for his clear and engaging lectures and illustrative drawings in embryology.

Already during the severe illness of academician Stanek, he was entrusted with his substitution by doc. MUDr. Samuel Repáš, CSc., who after his death headed the Department of Histology and Embryology until 1980. He extended classical histology with the then still young histochemistry and electron microscopy. In collaboration with clinicians, he was, among other things, involved in research on spermatogenesis in male sterility.

From 1980 to 1990, the head of the Department of Histology and Embryology was Professor Karol Kapeller, M.D., DrSc., who had previously worked at the Anatomical Institute of the Charles University Faculty of Medicine. In the 1960s, after a working stay at the University of Sheffield, England, Prof. Kapeller published a series of articles on axonal transport of noradrenaline in sympathetic nerve fibres. In 1987 he was awarded the National Prize for Research in Medicine as well as other prestigious awards for his discoveries in the study of the ultrastructure of autonomic nerves. Since 2006, Karol Kapeller has been a professor emeritus at the Institute, and last year he published his thirteenth book of poetry. For this reason, he can also be considered a "scientist with the heart of a poet".

Between 1990 and 2005, the Institute of Histology and Embryology was headed by another important representative of the Bratislava Anatomical Institute, prof. MUDr. Jozef Zlatoš, DrSc. Prof. Zlatoš was mainly devoted to neuroanatomy, with his greatest achievements in the research of cytoarchitectonics of neurons of the spinal cord. He is currently Professor Emeritus of the Institute.

In the last decades, the professional direction of the Institute has been shaped by a number of prominent university teachers and scientists who are now retired. Great thanks for the lifelong development of histology and embryology go to Assoc. RNDr. Viera Pospíšilová, CSc., author of several national textbooks (among them the textbook "Atlas of Embryology" won the Literary Fund Award for the most beautiful book), Assoc. MUDr. Janka Foltinova, CSc, the founder of Slovak ecomorphology and the author of the first textbook of histology for the field of biomedical physics, doc. MUDr. Mária Mikulajová, CSc., doc. MUDr. Emilia Rovenska, CSc., histochemist Ing. Danica Pavlíková, CSc., as well as the late colleagues prof. MUDr. Ján Jakubovský, DrSc., doc. MUDr. Helmut Strakele, CSc., doc. MUDr. Milan Rapoš, CSc., and MUDr. Maria Tuharská, CSc. The neurohistologist MUDr. Eva Mitrová, DrSc., founder of the Reference Centre for Prion Diseases and Slow Viral Neuroinfections, also started her career at the Institute of Histology and Embryology in Bratislava.

From December 2005 to June 2022, the head of the institute was prof. MUDr. Štefan Polák, CSc., who worked at the Institute of Pathological Anatomy from 1980 to 1998. Professor Polák had already applied the methods of transmission and scanning electron microscopy to medicine in the early 1980s. His area of interest is lymphology, with a focus on blood microcirculation in the spleen. With his arrival, the institute saw an influx of young graduates, a new scanning electron microscopy laboratory with elemental analysis was reestablished, and teaching was modernised with the publication of several textbooks and teaching texts.


Present of the Institute

From 1 July 2022, the head of the institute is prof. RNDr. Ivan Varga, PhD., Professor in Anatomy, Histology and Embryology (Charles University Prague, Czech Republic). His areas of interest are lymphology, with a focus on the development and microscopic structure of the thymus, and reproductive medicine, with a focus on the functional morphology of the fallopian tube and endometrium. He has authored or co-authored more than 130 scientific and professional articles indexed in the SCOPUS database, for which he has more than 1500 citations (Hirsch index = 18, year 2022). He is a laureate of the Jessenius Prize of the Slovak Medical Society (2021), the ESET Science Award in the category of Exceptional University Teacher (2020) and the "Jaroslav Jirsa Award" of Charles University in Prague, for the best textbook in medical and pharmaceutical sciences in 2016. During his professional career, he has been a Visiting Professor at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Republic of Lithuania and a member of the Advisory Board for both the 7th and 8th editions of the Netter Atlas of Human Anatomy, an Honorary Member of the Asociación Argentina de Anatomía Clínica, a delegate for the Slovak Republic in the International Committee of Symposia on Morphological Sciences and a Certified Specialist in Clinical Anatomy by the decision of the Graduate Committee of the Argentine Association of Clinical Anatomy. He is a guarantor and chairman of the doctoral study programme Anatomy, Histology and Embryology at the Faculty of Medicine of Comenius University in Bratislava. Professor Varga is a member of the editorial boards of the journals CLINICAL ANATOMY, CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL OBSTETRICS & GYNECOLOGY, MORFOLOGICAL SCIENCES, MEDICINA (KAUNAS), and REVISTA ARGENTINA DE ANATOMÍA CLÍNICA. Since 2019, he is also the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Comenius University for Science and Research, Doctoral Studies and International Relations.Significant progress has also been made in the field of science, with the Institute of Histology and Embryology being among the most active departments of the Faculty of Medicine of Charles University for the last 10 years in terms of publications. In 2019 alone, the staff of the Institute of Histology and Embryology of LF UK authored or co-authored more than 20 scientific publications in Impact Factor journals. Some of the university teachers under the leadership of prof. MUDr. Štefan Polák, CSc. Prof. Polák, Ph.D., was involved in the establishment of the embryology laboratory of the University Department of Reproductive Medicine at the UNB in 2010. Similarly, thanks to Prof. Polák, the Centre for Electron Microscopy Laboratory Methods was established within the Institute in 2022. The Institute's staff successfully organized the Czech-Slovak Anatomical Congress MORPHOLOGY in Bratislava in 2007 and in 2015, as the main organizers, organized the 7th International Symposium of Clinical and Applied Anatomy (ISCAA), which was attended by morphologists from more than thirty countries of the world. The international recognition of the Institute of Histology and Embryology of the Charles University Faculty of Medicine is also evidenced by the fact that its employees actively participate in teaching and research at Charles University in Prague, Masaryk University in Brno, the University of Oulu and Jagiellonian University in Krakow or as guest lecturers at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences in Kaunas within the framework of ERAZMUS+ teaching mobility.In recent years, the Institute has managed to establish scientific cooperation not only with partner institutions in the neighbouring Czech Republic, but also with Shanghai University in China, Zagazig University in Egypt, Semmelweis University in Hungary or Tulane University School of Medicine in the USA.



Fig. 1. Professor Zdeněk Frankenberger (left), founder of the Institute of Histology and Embryology in Bratislava, together with Professor Mazanc from Brno, at the congress in Smolenice (1958)
Fig. 2. Academician, prof. MUDr. Ivan Stanek, DrSc. (early 1960s)
Fig. 3. Doc. MUDr. Samuel Repáš, CSc. during a lecture in the Great Auditorium of the New Theoretical Institutes (circa 1963)
Fig. 4. Prof. MUDr. Karol Kapeller, DrSc.
Fig. 5. Collective of the Institute of Histology and Embryology in 1990. First row: doc. MUDr. Milan Rapoš, CSc., prof. MUDr. Karol Kapeller, DrSc., prof. MUDr. Jozef Zlatoš, DrSc., doc. MUDr.Helmut Strakele, CSc. Second row: doc. RNDr. Viera Pospíšilová, CSc., Katarína Nagyová, Gabriela Valášková (long-time secretary of the Institute), Mária Mičincová, doc. MUDr. Emília Rovenská, CSc., doc. MUDr. Janka Foltínová, CSc., Ing. Jozef Polonyi. Third row: Viera Haraslínová, Hedviga Kolmannová, Ľudmila Košíková, Ružena Bohóová, MUDr. Mária Tuharská, CSc., Ing. Danica Pavlíková, CSc., Ľudmila Hanicová, Rudolf Kubík
Fig. 6. Collective of the Institute of Histology and Embryology of the Faculty of Medicine in Bratislava during the organization of the 7th International Symposium of Clinical and Applied Anatomy in Bratislava (2015). From left. Michaela Vrabcová, PhD., MUDr. Martin Klein, Mgr. Miroslava Juríková, PhD., RNDr. Mária Csöbönyeiová, PhD., MUDr. Simona Polakovičová, PhD., MUDr. Vanda Rísová, PhD., MUDr. Renáta Mikušová, PhD., MUDr. Tatiana Sláviková, PhD. (former PhD student of the Institute), prof. MUDr. Štefan Polák, CSc. MUDr. Marcel Hrebenár (former PhD student of the Institute). Front row, in the lower row Mgr. MUDr. Michal Miko, PhD. and prof. RNDr. Ivan Varga, PhD.