The legacy of Leon Popielski in the world of medicine, finding a place between the Nobel Laureates Ivan Pavlov and James Black (On the 150th anniversary of his birth)

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April 11th, 2016 marks 150 years since the birth of the Professor of Lviv University Leon Popielski (1.03.1866 – 8.10.1920), one of the leading scientists of the 20th century. His life and works serve as a model of self-sacrifice for the scientists today. His academic output of more than 109 scientific works. Professor Popielski is the founder of Lviv’s scientific school of experimental gastroenterology; he also continued the traditions of Lviv’s pharmacology school. He was a mentor for 17 doctoral candidates, who respectively taught physiology and pharmacology in many European universities.  Despite this, Prof. Popielski is still little known to the medical community.

Leon PopielskProfessor Popilski was the first researcher who explored the impact of histamine as a powerful and essential factor in gastric secretion, and is recognized by the world scientific community as a co-author of the concept of humoral control in the secretory processes in the digestive system.

The life of Popielski is closely linked with the turbulent political and military developments in Eastern Europe and with its two leading universities.  He studied and began his career in science at the Military Medical Academy in St Petersburg  (1889-1894 and 1894-1900, respectively).   Consequently, he was appointed Professor and head of the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacognosy at Lviv University (1905-1920).  After 1909 he served as the Dean of the medical faculty in Lviv, and on this basis the Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University (LNMU) was established.

While still a student at the Medical Faculty, Popielski proved to be a gifted student and graduated with special award- Cum eximia laude. In 1897 Dr Popielski, defended his second doctoral thesis on physiology, “On the secretory and inhibitory nerves of the pancreas,” which he completed under the supervision of Nobel laureate (1904), Pavlov, at the Imperial Institute of Experimental Medicine. He was given highest honors for his scientific work “The role of the liver in the transformation of blood”.

Fig.1 Leon Popielski (second from left) during his work in St Petersburg.
Fig.1 Leon Popielski (second from left) during his work in St Petersburg.

In 1901, Leon Popielski published results of his research, indicating the existence of the peripheral “reflex center” for the secretion of gastric glands. His results contradicted the prevailing “nervism” theory of Pavlov, who was supervisor of Popielski’s work. This caused friction between Pavlov and Poplielski.  Pavlov initiated a verification-process of Popielski’s results, later described in the memoirs of Boris Babkin.  The results of these verification experiments confirmed the soundness of Popielski’s contention.  It confirmed the existence of processes other than the conditional-reflex mechanism, “peripheral” way to control the secretion of gastric glands.

Despite the World War I, Popielski continued his research in Lviv through 1916.  He found a dose-dependent effect of histamine on gastric acid secretion in experiments on dogs with gastric fistulae. The research results were published in the prestigious international journal “Pflügers Archive für die gesamte Physiologie des Menschen und der Tiere” in the year of his death  (1920).

In the 1960s, the research of British scientist James Black confirmed Popielski’s model about the essential role of humoral influence in the secretion of digestive glands and became the basis for a new class of drugs – H2 blockers.  This work significantly changed the strategy of treating peptic ulcer disease; consequently Black was awarded the Nobel Prize (1988). As such, there is no doubt that Popielski’s work represented the deepest intellectual rigor, setting the foundation for future generations to come.

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of birth of Popielski we offer virtual exhibition. For the user’s benefit, publications will be available of Popielski’s work from both his St. Petersburg and Lviv periods.  Some of the presented materials you may see in the reading room of the Scientific Library, some will be presented as paper edition, and others in electronic form.

Photos of Professor Popielski will be on exhibited, most of which will be presented for the first time.

Preparation of the exhibition became possible with the help of the Professor of Normal Physiology department of Lviv National Medical University, Oksana Zayachkivska, who kindly provided materials and photos from the archives of the scientist’s family that now lives in Poland (Helena Popielska-Greblicka, MD, PhD, Wlodzimierz Greblicki, PhD, DSc (Wroclaw) and Leon Popielski, MD, PhD (Cracow)), and special collections department of the Stanislaw Konopka Warsaw Central Medical Library (Director – W. Giermaziak), as well as with the help of The Physiological Society, and the student of the Medical Faculty of LNMU, Anna Musiol (Poland).

 

  • Ueber secretorische Hemmungsnerven des Pankreas // Centralblatt für Physiologie. – 1896. – Bd. 10, № 14. – S. 405-409.
  • Ueber die Grösse der zuckerzurückhaltenden Function der Leber // Centralblatt für Physiologie. – 1900. – Bd. 14, № 8. – S. 193-195.
  • Adrenalina i środki podnoszące ciśnienie krwi// Lwowski Tygodnik Lekarski. – 1907. – № 14. – S. 171-173.
  • O fizyologicznem działaniu i chemicznych własnościach wyciągów z treści i ścianek jelit// Lwowski Tygodnik Lekarski. – 1907. – № 47. – S. 607-608.
  • O wpływie peptonów na czynność serca // Lwowski Tygodnik Lekarski. – 1907. – № 29. – S. 366-369.
  • O działaniu alkoholu na organizm w świetle obcych i własnych badań : (odczyt wygłoszony dnia 23. lipca 1907 na X. Zjeździe lekarzy i przyrodników w sekcyi spraw alkoholizmu). – Lwów, 1908. – 24 s. – Access mode : http://dlibra.umcs.lublin.pl/dlibra/doccontent?id=13590. – Date of revision : 3.03.2016.
  • O jadowitych ciałach prawidłowego ustroju w świetle własnych badań // Lwowski Tygodnik Lekarski. – 1908. – № 1. – S. 1-6.
  • O fizyologicznych i chemicznych własnościach wazodilatyny, czynnego ciałą narządów prawidłowego ustroju / L. Popielski, K. Panek // Przegląd Lekarski. – 1909. – № 2. – S. 17-20.
  • Über die Blutdruckwirkung des Cholins // Zeitschrift für Physiologische Chemie. – 1910-1911. – Bd. 70. – S. 250-252. – Access mode : http://vlp.uni-regensburg.de/library/data/lit19153. – Date of revision : 3.03.2016.
  • Bemerkungen über die Bedeutung der temporären Isolierungsmethode bei Untersuchungen über die Verdauungsprozesse // Zeitschrift für Physiologische Chemie. – 1911. – Vol. 71, № 2. – S. 186-191. – Access mode : http://vlp.uni-regensburg.de/library/data/lit19234/index_html?pn=1&ws=1.5. – Date of revision : 3.03.2016.
  • O rozpowszechnieniu wazodilatyny w świecie zwierzęcym // Księga Pamiątkowa Uniwersytetu Lwowskiego. – 1911. – S. 1-5.
  • Wyciągi z narządów i wewnȩtrzne wydzielanie // Przegląd Lekarski. – 1911. – № 49. – S. 788.
Wyciągi z narządów i wewnȩtrzne wydzielanie
Wyciągi z narządów i wewnȩtrzne wydzielanie
  • Teorja hormonów i wydzielanie wewnętrzne // Przegląd Lekarski. – 1912. – № 47. – S. 676-677; № 48. – S. 689-691; № 49. – S. 700-702; № 50. – S. 718-72
  • Adrenalin und Komprimierung der Nebenniere // Zentralblatt für Physiologie. – 1913. – Bd. 27, № 9. – S. 479-485. – Access mode : ve.org/stream/zentralblattfr27leip#page/478/mode/2up”>https://archive.org/stream/zentralblattfr27leip#page/478/mode/2up. – Date of revision : 3.03.2016.
  • Niekrzepliwość krwi w odruchowej czynności wydzielniczej ślinianek i gruczołu trzustkowego. Ogólne prawo wydzielania soków trawiennych // Lwowski Tygodnik Lekarski. – 1913. – № 1. – S. 1-3; № 2. – S. 20-22.
  • O bodźcach gruczołów żołądkowych // Lwowski Tygodnik Lekarski. – 1913. – № 50. – S. 812-816.
  • O wpływie t. zw. umiarkowanego używania alkoholu na ustrój : referat wygłoszony na III polskim kongresie przeciw-alkoholowym we Lwowie // Walka z alkoholizmem. – 1913. – Rok I, № 2. – S. 65-68.
  • Alkohol jako środek odżywczy. – Lwów : Nakładem zarządu głównego “Wyzwolenia”, 1914. – 24 s. – Access mode : https://polona.pl/item/20246901/4/. – Date of revision : 3.03.2016.
  • β-imidazolyläthylamin und die Organextrakte. Erster teil : β-imidazolyläthylamin als mächtiger Erreger der Magendrüsen // Pflügers Archiv für die gesamte Physiologie des Menschen und der Tiere. – 1920. – Bd. 178, № 1. – S. 214-236. – Access mode : https://archive.org/stream/pflgersarchivf178bonn#page/214/mode/2up. – Date of revision : 3.03.2016.
  • β-imidazolyläthylamin und die Organextrakte. Zweiter teil : Einfluss der Säuren auf die die Magensaftsekretion erregende Wirkung der Organextrakte // Pflügers Archiv für die gesamte Physiologie des Menschen und der Tiere. – 1920. – Bd. 178, № 1. – S. 237-259. – Access mode : https://archive.org/stream/pflgersarchivf178bonn#page/236/mode/2up. – Date of revision : 3.03.2016.
  • Histamina i wyciągi z narządów // Księga Pamiątkowa wydana w dwudziestopiątą rocznicę istnienia Wydziału Lekarskiego Uniwersytetu Jana Kazimierza 1894-1919 przez członków Wydziału lekarskiego / pod redakcja W. Nowickiego. – Lwów, 1920. – S. 67-74.

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