Teaching of chemistry at the Medical Faculty in the Jagiellonian University has been initiated as a consequence of the great reforms of Hugo Kołłątaj at the end of XVIIIth Century.
The first, who lectured chemistry in Latin for physicians, was Professor Jan Jaśkiewicz, graduate of Vienna University Medical Faculty. Since then several attempts have been made to create a chemistry department at the Medical Faculty. Józef Dietl – professor of medicine - the president of Kraków, had been especially active finally reaching the permission of The Ministry of Religion and Public Enlightenment for organizing a pathological chemistry laboratory. The agreement for creation the Department of Pathological Chemistry, was signed by the Ministry on the 4th of April 1864. Aleksander Stopczański, Assistant Professor at the Vienna University, was nominated as the chief of the newly created Department.
In 1874 the Department of Pathological Chemistry was named the Chair of Medical Chemistry and from then on chemistry has been systematically lectured for medical students. A. Stopczański retired in 1906 and Leon Marchlewski, a student of G. Lunge in Zurich and E. Schunck in Manchester, became the second chief of The Department. He significantly developed didactic, as well as scientific activity. His main research works focused on the chlorophyll. L. Marchlewski discovered and explained, in co-operation with M. Nęcki, homology of the chlorophyll’s and hems chemical structure.
After the death of L. Marchlewski in 1946 his student Bolesław Skarżyński became the next chief of The Chair. The Chair of Medical Chemistry was renamed as the Chair of Physiological Chemistry and teaching of this subject was also undertaken at the Pharmacy Faculty and Chemistry Faculty of the Jagiellonian University. There were two major fields of scientific interest during B. Skarżyński’s management: sulfur’s metabolism in autotrophic bacteria and natural complexes of proteins with vitamins. He achieved with his group important results that were recognized at the international scale.
B. Skarżyński died in 1963 and his student and closest collaborator Włodzimierz S. Ostrowski was appointed as the head of the Chair of Physiological Chemistry. He fulfilled his biochemical studies in Stockholm’s Nobel Institute with the group of Professor H. Theorell and in Berkeley in Professor’s W. Stanley laboratory. His main scientific interest focused on properties, biological role and medical significance of prostatic acid phosphatase. The work initiated by W. Ostrowski is continued by his students and successors.
In 1972 The Chair was named Institute of Medical Biochemistry with obligation to carry out teaching of biochemistry as well as basic and bioorganic chemistry for students of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and nursery school.
The main direction of research carried out currently in the Institute of Medical Biochemistry, Collegium Medicum UJ are studies on the structures, functions, modes of action and biological roles of enzymes and antibodies as well as metabolism of sulfur, carbohydrates and free radicals in animal and human normal and transformed cells
Since 1905 all the Institutions teaching subsequently medical chemistry, physiological chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology and doing research in those fields has been located at the same place, in historical building from XVIII Century - primarily hosting Freemason’s Lodge “ Superstition Overcome” - and donated for the needs of the Jagiellonian University in 1822. Apparently temporary presence of underground freemasons activities left some imperative and mysterious atmosphere so necessary for scientific investigations and discoveries.