1st Faculty of Medicine Charles University 1st Faculty of Medicine Charles University Institute of Physiology

About Institute of Physiology



Physiology became an independent subject of instruction at the Medical Faculty of the Charles University in 1749. In the same year, the first genuine textbook of physiology was published by Jiri Prochaska, the promoter of the modern reflex theory. The Institute of Physiology in Prague was founded by Jan Evangelista Purkyne (Purkynje) in 1851 as the second physiological institute in the world. The founder and the first head of the Institute was an ingenious Czech researcher in the fields of physiology, histology and embryology, who was the author of many discoveries, a number of which bear his name. The directors of the Institute were: Jan Evangelista Purkyne (1851 - 1869), Maxmilian von Vintschgau (1869 - 1870), Ewald Hering (1870 - 1883), Vladimir Tomsa (1883 - 1895), Frantisek Mares (1895 - 1930), Antonin Hanak (1930 - 1935), Frantisek Karasek (1935 - 1936), Vilem Laufberger (1936 - 1953), Frantisek Karasek (1953 - 1970), and Lubor Jilek (1970 - 1975).


At present, teaching is provided for about 450 students in degree programme in Medicine, and about 180 students in degree programmes in Health Care, Teachers in Nursing, and Social Work. Nineteen teachers give lectures and practical courses. By the end of the second term students have to earn credits, to pass multiple-choice tests and oral examination. The degree programme includes a class of students from abroad who follow the same curriculum with the communication language being English.


Scientific work originally followed the interests of the directing professors. In the last fifty years it has been aimed mainly at developmental physiology. Preference for contemporary scientific work is given to studies of the prenatal and postnatal development of the nervous system. In the Department of Neuroembryophysiology, determinants of the development of the nervous system are studied in chicken embryos. The principles of neuroplasticity, maturation, and reaction to the changes in internal and external environment are studied in the Department of Plasticity of Developing CNS using electrophysiological and neuromorphological methods. Metabolism of the central nervous system is the main subject in the Department of Neurochemistry. Selected physiological systems are analysed and modelled in the Department of Biocybernetics. Scientific contacts have been established with Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Japan, Russia, Switzerland and the USA.