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A Polish professor is one of the best researchers of the lymphatic system

22.12.2005 Health, Prizes & awards
For years it has been thought that the lymphatic system only served transporting water and protein from tissues to blood. Professor Waldemar Olszewski of the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Medicine in PAN, who has proved that the lymphatic system is much more important than that, has received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the University of Genoa.

Professor Olszewski is pleased that the title was granted to him solely for his accomplishments in pathophysiology and vessel system surgery. He is also pleased with the proposal to cooperate with them.

Professor Olszewski has proved that the lymphatic system controls the integrity of the inside of our tissues and a permanent defence of our body against infections. We could not survive without our lymphatic system – our tissues would drown in protein tissue fluid, bacteria and viruses would soon kill us, tissues would not regenerate. The results of Olszewski's 40 years' of work have been used worldwide especially to rescue the health and lives of people in the tropical countries.


Currently, Professor Olszewski is running research on cells and immune protein in the lymph, alongside scientists from the National Health Institute in Bethsed, USA and the Indian National Academy of Sciences in Delhi. They are analyzing the process of transporting information about bacterial, viral or fungal infections from dendritic cells to lymphocytes to then find a way to stop the cooperation between them (which in some cases can cause a serious inflammation or even cancer).

According to Professor Olszewski, the main target for researchers of the lymphatic system is to establish what goes on in the cells between tissues. “Due to such research, in the future we will not need blood testing”, a drop of tissue fluid contains up to 15 000 protein participating in pathological processes in our organism.


Professor Olszewski has been interested in the lymphatic system since 1962. Just after four years of studying he designed and constructed the first ever lympho-vein anostomosis in lymphostasis, thus becoming a precursor of microsurgery. A stasis of tissue fluid and lymph in the lymphatic system destroys the system, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 300 million people, particularly in Asia, Africa and South America, are affected by this.

Professor Olszewski's anastomosis have been used in over 100 000 operations.In the 80s, Olszewski discovered that lymphatic vessels beat rhythmically, this means that fragments of the vessels which have one way valves contract analogically to the heart, which ensures a permanent outflow of excess tissue fluid and lymph from tissues to blood which is essential for us to live.


The lymphatic system may be supported by antibiotics for many years. Olszewski has developed a method of preventing recurring skin, lymph vessels and gland inflammation, using penicillin in tropical countries. His method is practiced by WHO, over a dozen million people in the world are treated with it. He has also developed a method of plastic surgery for people with lymphatic swellings of the limbs – elephantiasis.

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Waldemar Olszewski graduated from the Medical Academy in Warsaw, he became a Professor in 1985.He has done placements at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London, Harvard Medical School – Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston and Norwegian Radium Hospital in Oslo.

He is a member of the Polish Society of Experimental and Clinical Immunology, Polish Surgeons Society, International Microsurgeons Society, European Society of Lymphology, Argentinian Angilogical Society, American Society of Lymphology and Polish Japanese Surgical Society.

He has received awards from: International Society of Lymphology (1973), Purkinye Society (1979), PAN (1981, 1985) and the Polish Transplantology Society (1998).

Joanna Poros, trans. ajb/ajfb

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