Professor Andrzej Szczeklik, MD, PhD, was born on 29 July 1938 in Krakow, Poland. In 1961, he graduated from the Copernicus Academy of Medicine in Krakow, Faculty of Medicine. He continued his postgraduate training abroad, including the United States of America and Sweden. He defended his doctoral (1966), and then postdoctoral thesis (1969) at the Wroclaw Medical University, where he worked in the years 1964–1971. In January 1972, he became the Head of the Department of Allergy at the Copernicus Academy of Medicine in Krakow. In 1979, he became Associate Professor, and in 1989 – Full Professor. Professor Szczeklik was a visiting professor at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom (1985), King’s College School of Medicine, London, (1986–1989), and at Hochgebirgsklinik Davos-Wolfgang, Switzerland (1987–1996). In the years 1990–1993, he held the office of the Rector of the Academy of Medicine in Krakow and, together with Professor Andrzej Pelczar, the then Rector of the Jagiellonian University, managed to restore medical faculties to the Jagiellonian University (12 May 1993). In the years 1993–1996, he held the office of Vice-Rector for Collegium Medicum. His scientific interests focused mainly on the mechanisms underlying atherosclerosis and asthma, in particular the effects of acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). In 1975, he put forward a theory on the development of the so called aspirin-induced asthma and in the subsequent years, it was substantiated and widely accepted. In 1976, after injecting himself and his colleagues from the research team with a newly discovered substance called prostacyclin, as the first person in the world he described its effects in humans.
In 1991, he won a major international tender for research, organized by the European Community Science Committee. He used procured resources, later on supplemented by the governments of Flanders and Poland, to completely refurbish the hospital building housing the 2nd Department of Internal Medicine. He built a new, 5‑storey clinical wing, new research laboratories, and didactic facilities with which he established one of the most innovative centers of internal medicine and genetics in Europe.
In 1997, he was awarded a prestigious prize of The Lancet, a British medical weekly, for the discovery of the genetic basis for bronchial asthma. A year later The London Royal College of Physicians awarded him with honorary membership for research on the mechanisms of blood clotting in cardiovascular diseases. In 1998, he received the first prize of the Polish Science Foundation. In 2000, he received the First Rector’s Award:
“The Jagiellonian Laurel”. In 2001, he was honored with the first award of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). In 2008, he received the Clemens von Pirquet scientific
Award of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI).
He was the author of about 600 papers (h‑index – 54, citation count – 9385), in such journals as the Nature, Lancet, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Circulation, Blood, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Allergy, Thorax, and others. He was also the author of several monographs and textbooks published, among others, in the United States, United Kingdom, and France. He was the editor of the first Polish evidence-based medicine textbook – Internal Diseases. He was a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the vice‑president of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2006, a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences since 1998, as well as of other scientific societies. He was awarded with a doctor honoris causa degree by the Wroclaw Medical University (1999), Medical University of Warsaw (2002), of Silesia (2002), of Lodz (2003), and the Jagiellonian University in Krakow (2009). He was the supervisor of 17 procedures of granting a postdoctoral degree and of 47 PhD dissertations.
In 1995–2002, Professor Andrzej Szczeklik was the National Consultant in Internal Diseases. He was the Chair of the National Scientific Board of the Polish Archives of Internal Medicine, beginning with 2007. Since 2001, he presided over the Committee for Specialist and Continued Education of the Polish Society of Internal Medicine.
Professor Andrzej Szczeklik was also a writer and an essayist. He was the author of two books titled Catharsis: on the Art of Medicine (Znak, 2002), which was translated into English, Hungarian, French, Russian, and Spanish, as well as Kore: on sickness, the sick, and the search for the soul of medicine (Znak, 2007), translated into English, Hungarian, Lithuanian, and German.
He died on 3 February 2012, after a short illness, in his beloved Department at 8 Skawińska Street in Krakow.