PhD, DSc, FSB
Professor of Medical Sciences
Visitor to the Department of Medicine
Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology
Royal Free & University College Medical School, UCL
Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK
Email: email@example.com Tel: + 44 (0) 207 794 0500 xt: 35374
Historical photos from Lwow (Lviv) and contemporary images from south east Poland
Photographs of one of the teams involved in the production of an exanthematous typhus
vaccine based on preparations of the gut of human-fed live lice infected
with Rickettsia prowazekii. The photographs were taken at Weigl's
Institute, at Lwów (then a famous university town in occupied
Poland, now Lviv in Ukraine).
In the early 1920s the outstanding Polish biologist Professor Rudolf Stefan Weigl (1883-1957) of the University of King Jan Kazimierz (Casimir) in Lwów, Poland developed an anti-typhus vaccine. Earlier, in 1909, Professor Charles Nicolle of the Pasteur Institute, Tunis, discovered that that the louse was a vector for typhus (Nobel Prize 1928). Prof. C. Nicolle was familiar with Weigl's Institute. The anti-typhus vaccine was used in Europe, Africa (Ethiopia) and Asia (China). Work on the vaccine was dangerous, and at times Weigl's staff developed typhus, and some died. Fortunately the staff had a healthy attitude to their work as can be seen on the second photograph.
Prof. RS Weigl was a great patriot who during the occupation used the Institute to protect intellectuals, minorities or just people in need, by taking them on as workers or lice-feeders. He also hid members of the Polish underground. For an account of this, and his life in turbulent war-time Lwów under first Soviet and then Nazi occupation, see Prof. Waclaw Szybalski of University of Wisconsin, USA Maintenance of human-fed live lice in the laboratory and production of Weigl's exanthematic typhus vaccine. In Maramorosch K & Mahmood (Eds) Maintenance of Human, Animal, and Plant Pathogen Vectors. Science Publishers, Inc., Enfield, NH, USA, 1999, pp. 161-180.' (For web pages click here).