Obituaries

Stefania Jablonska

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j2891 (Published 15 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2891
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. Hamburg, Germany
  1. ns{at}europefn.de

Co-discovered human papillomavirus type 5 in skin cancer

Credit: Polish Dermatological Society

In 1950 Stefania Jablonska was faced with a big decision. She was 30 years old and had returned to the Medical University of Warsaw after a year’s training with renowned dermatologist Donald M Pillsbury at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. Jablonska had been offered two attractive opportunities to further her fledgling career in dermatology.

Career dilemma

One of the offers came from Pillsbury’s team in Philadelphia. They had liked her work and offered her a clinical research position. The other offer came from Warsaw University’s Dermatology Clinic, which was mired in turmoil after the politically motivated arrest of the clinic director and head of the dermatology department, Marian Grzybowski. After Grzybowski’s death in prison, older dermatologists at the university were reluctant to fill the leadership vacuum. Jablonska had only recently received her doctorate and would not be awarded habilitation until the next year. Nonetheless, she was offered the chance to head the clinic and the department.

Many years later she wrote about the dilemma on her website. “Young doctors,” she wrote in Polish, “were longing for science after a severe period of war and occupation, and were asking me for help. They demanded that I accept the top position. The decision to decline a research offer in Philadelphia was very difficult, but it was the only hope of saving the Warsaw Dermatology Clinic.”

She accepted the offer and would stay as the head …

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