Edmund Biernacki on the Science of Diseases and the Art of Healing

  • Ilana Löwy
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 37)


Edmund Biernacki (1866–1911) was born in Opoczno, in a family of impoverished Polish nobility. He studied medicine at the Warsaw University. During his medical studies Biernacki demonstrated a strong inclination for laboratory research. He worked first in a physiology laboratory directed by Prof. Tumas, studying there fermentation and purification phenomena and the physiological effects of subcutaneus injection of saline. The results of this last study were published in 1888 in Medical Review [Przegląd lekarski], and for this work, Biernacki — who was still a medical student — was awarded the Gold Medal of Warsaw University. After graduation in 1889, Biernacki worked for a year at the University Hospital, and obtained a scholarship to complete his training in Germany and France. He attended the lectures of Erbe in Heidelberg and of Charcot in Paris, and specialized in physiology and in hematology in the laboratories of Kühne in Heidelberg, of Reigel in Geissen and of Hayem in Paris. Returning to Warsaw, he was unable to obtain a university position. He accepted work as a clinician in the Wolski Hospital, and started a private practice at the same time. His main interest remained, however, hematological research. The Poles attribute to him priority in the discovery of blood sedimentation (1894) [13]. Biernacki was not satisfied with his clinical work and with his private practice in Warsaw. In addition, his first philosophico-medical studies were strongly criticized by Warsaw physicians, making his presence in that city difficult.


Private Practice Medical Knowledge General Pathology False Assumption Disease Unit 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilana Löwy
    • 1
  1. 1.Hôpital Necker-Enfants MaladesINSERMParisFrance

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