Stella Niemierko (1906-2006)

Autor: Krystyna Makowska
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Stella Niemierko (1906-2006),

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Stella Niemierko was born into a family of doctors on May 8, 1906 in Łódź (Poland). She was a second daughter of Józef Saks and Wiktoria Wiesel. Stella's father died in 1909 [1,2].

In the years 1915-1918 she attended a Russian gymnasium [3]. At the age of seventeen, Stella Saks graduated from the Junior High School of the Trade Union of Polish Secondary School Teachers in Warsaw. After receiving her high school passing exams in the fall of 1923, she began studies at the University of Warsaw in the Natural Sciences Section of the Faculty of Philosophy [4].

In 1926, she was admitted to the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, where, under the supervision of Professor Kazimierz Białaszewicz, director of the Nencki Institute and lecturer at Warsaw University, she completed her doctoral thesis entitled: "On mineral metabolism during hunger in dogs." The dissertation defense took place at the University of Warsaw in 1932 and was the first university in the capital where a woman received a doctoral degree in biological sciences. During that time, Stella Saks was primarily concerned with human physiology. In the years 1930-1931 she worked as a laboratory technician at the Aviation Medical Research Center (currently the Institute of Aviation Medicine) participating in tests of pilots and pilot candidates for changes in circulation and breathing in conditions of reduced atmospheric pressure [2,3].

1931 was an important year for Stella in both her private life and scientific carrier development. On this year she married Włodzimierz Niemierko (1897-1988) and took a position as a senior assistant at the Department of Work Physiology of the University of Physical Education in Warsaw. At that time, my husband worked at the Nencki Institute and was completing his doctoral dissertation under the supervision of Kazimierz Białaszewicz. During her work at the University of Physical Education her superior and scientific guide was Professor Włodzimierz Missiuro (1892-1967), a man of great merit in the field of research in the field of occupational physiology and sports medicine in Poland. Stella Niemierko conducted exercises in physiology, as well as lectures on metabolism. During Włodzimierz Missiura's one and a half year stay abroad, she independently headed the Department of Physiology. She was also the secretary of the journal "Przegląd Physiologia Ruchu". She worked there until the outbreak of the World War II [1,4].