Janina Hurynowicz (1894-1967)

Autor: Krystyna Makowska
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Janina Hurynowicz (1894-1967),

Janina Hurynowicz was born on November 10, 1894 in Krystynopol (Until 1951, the city was within the borders of Poland, now Lithuania) [1,2].  

She graduated from high school in Vilnius in 1911. Since during this period a higher education system closed to women in Poland, she had to pass the matriculation examination as an extramural student at a secondary school for boys. In 1912 She entered the Women’s Medial Institute in St. Petersburg from which she graduated after Bolshevik Revolution in 1918 [1,3].

In the years 1918–1922 she worked in various Russian Civil War hospitals as an epidemiologist, neurologist and psychiatrist [1]. As a military doctor, in the rank of captain, she joined the Polish Siberian Division and despite her young age and being the only woman among thousands of soldiers, became the head of a field hospital. In January 1920, together with the entire division, she was taken to Bolshevik captivity and sent to work as a neurologist in the hospital for prisoners of war in Verkhne-Udinsk, the capital Republic of the Far East (an ephemeral state created by the Soviets). For her work she was awared the Polish war crss. She returned to already independent Poland in 1921 through Japan, India, France and Germany, caring for disabled prisoners of war as a doctor. As a military doctor, she was demobilized in September 1921 and settled in Vilnius. She worked for a year in a children's neurology clinic and clinic for adult patients with neurological diseases [3].

In 1922, she started working as an assistant at the Faculty of Medicine Stefan Batory University in Vilinius in the Neurological Clinic and she worked there until 1933. In 1927, she defended her doctorate with the dissertation on the basis of the thesis The influence of insulin on the vegetative nervous system (today known as the autonomic nervous system, ANS). Her dissertation was rated so highly that the university authorities decided to send her on a scholarship to Paris at the elecltrophysiological laboratory of professor Bourguignon at Sorbonne to learn about chronaxie measurement and other new trends in neuroscience [3]. She spent the period 1927-1939 in Paris in various scientific institutions, dealing with the chronaxiometric method of measuring the excitability of the vasomotor system, which was recognized by the Paris Academy of Sciences. Hurynowicz conducted research at Salpêtrière hospitals and Pitié, under the supervision of such outstanding neurologists as Joseph Babinski or Georges Guillain [1,3].

In 1930 She obtained her habilitation at the Faculty of Medicine of the Stefan Batory University of Vilnius in the field neurology and the right to lecture. After the reform academic school in 1933, a local neurological clinic was transformed into a clinic for nervous diseases, which management was entrusted to prof. Maksymilian Rose. Hurynowicz had to move to the Department of Physiology to stay there run a neurophysiology laboratory. After the death of prof. Rose, from 1937, she served as deputy professor and temporary head of the Neurological and Psychiatric Clinic. As woman – despite great experience as a neurologist – she was not accepted in a management position. In 1938 applied for a similar position at the University of Poznań, but also to no avail [1].

During the war, she worked as a neurologist at the Neurological Hospital in Vilinus and participated in the resistance movement treating wounded partisans. After the war, in 1945 when Vilnius remained within the borders of the USSR, and Hurynowicz moved to Poland. She came to Toruń as an associate professor, taking up the position of head of the Department of Neurophysiology and Comparative Physiology of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. She worked there until her retirement in 1965. She also temporarily served as deputy dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Toruń. By order of the authorities, she established it temporarily. In 1946 she was nominated professor in neurophysiology [3]. Since then she was involved in organizational work at the branches of the National Institute of Mental Hygiene in Toruń and Bydgoszcz, which later became provincial mental health clinics. She was a member of several foreign scientific societies.She remained the director of such a clinic in Toruń until 1954.



Photograph from https://www.biol.umk.pl/wiadomosci/?id=25830