Liliana Lubińska (1904-1990)

Autor: Krystyna Makowska
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Liliana Lubińska (1904-1990),

Liliana Lubińska portrait from Acta Neurobiologia Experimentalis - "Liliana Lubińska (1904-1990)." Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis 1991.51: 1-2. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

Liliana Lubińska was born on October 14, 1904 in Łódź [1].

She spent her childhood in Russia, and in Moscow she attended four grades of junior high school. In 1918, she moved to Warsaw with her family, and a year later she continued her education at the Philological Junior High School of the Trade Union of Teachers of Polish Secondary Schools. During this period, she became interested in left-wing movements, participated in illegal May Day marches and organized a self-education circle for learning about workers' movements. After passing her high school leaving examination in 1923, she began studies at the Faculty of Biology at the University of Warsaw [1,2,3].

After a year, she went to France to continue her studies in biological sciences at the Faculty of Science at the Sorbonne. She was a very good student while trying to gain financial independence by earning a living from part-time jobs. After three years of studies, she obtained a bachelor's degree in General Physiology, Biological Chemistry and General Chemistry, and then received the position of junior assistant to prof. Louis Lapicque at the Department of General Physiology. Prof. Lapicque (1866 – 1954) a famous French neurophysiologist and an influential socialist [2,4,5]. In 1927 she received a scientific scholarship. She prepared a dissertation on the analysis of the lingual-maxillary reflex and the blink reflex, for which she was awarded the Coëmme Prize of the Medical Academy in Paris and obtained the title of docteures scienes. During her stay in France, her interest in left-wing movements initially decreased and then gave way to reluctance [1,2].

Liliana Lubińska. Photo from



Title page of prof.'s doctoral dissertation. Liliana Lubińska (made available by the Nencki Institute Library)


In 1932 she returned to Poland and started working at the Department of Physiology of the Institute of Experimental Biology Marceli Nencki PAN under the supervision of Kazimierz Białaszewicz. As a senior assistant, she conducted research on magnesium anesthesia and the influence of magnesium on neuromuscular reactions. It was then that she met Jerzy Konorski and Stefan Miller, with whom she conducted research on conditioned reflexes. Working with J. Konorski and S. Miller did not fully suit her. As she emphasized several times, she valued most research in which she could use relatively simple experimental models that allowed her to formulate verifiable hypotheses [1,2].

In 1933 she married Jerzy Konorski [5].

Prof. Jerzy Konorski (1903-1973)


In September 1939, after the outbreak of Ward War II and the fall of Warsaw, with her husband she was planning to emigrate to England, however, chaos and an unfortunate coincidence caused them to reach the Soviet Union instead. Thanks to Jerzy Konarski's acquaintances from the time of his work in 1931-1933 in the laboratory of prof. Ivan Pavlov manages to contact him and receive his support. Prof. Pavlov helps them to survive the war and enables them the opportunity to work on scientific positions at the Department of Physiology of the Institute of Experimental Medicine in Sukhumi (now the Abkhaz Autonomous Republic). They remained associated with the Institute until the end of the war, where, together with their colleagues, they experienced the entry of German troops into the USSR, the evacuation of the Institute into the interior of the country and war tragedies. At that time, Lubińska together with prof. Konorski focused on research on the mechanisms of regenerative processes after peripheral nerve damage [2,3].

In 1945 they returned to Poland, settled in Łódź where, together with Stella Nimierkowa, Włodzimierz Niemerko, Staniasława Dembowska and Jan Dembowski they worked on the reactivation of the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology. They created the Organizing Committee of the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, which included prof. Lubińska. Because the pre-war headquarters of the Institute in the building of the Warsaw Scientific Society at Śniadeckich Street 8 in Warsaw was seriously damaged during the war, the Institute started working in Łódź. During this time, Prof. Lubińska started research at the Department of Physiology at the University of Łódź. The Committee's efforts to build an Institute in Warsaw were successful and in 1955 the employees moved to specially designed buildings at Pasteur Street 3, which became the new headquarters of the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology [2].

She was one of a small group of twelve honorary members of International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) [3].

Liliana Lubińska's impressive scientific achievements include over 80 articles in Polish and foreign journals [6] describing primarily the peripheral nervous system, nerve regeneration and axoplasmic flow. Her extremely innovative research has been published in extremely prestigious scientific journals such as Nature and The Lancet [4,7,8]. Its results not only confirmed previous scientific reports but also led to a better understanding of nerve regeneration [1,98]