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A Brief History of the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology

On 2 November 1922, only three years after the Faculty of Medicine was founded (1919) in Ljubljana, the first bacteriological laboratory was set up within the prosectorium of the General Hospital of Ljubljana. The head of the laboratory, referred to as ″Permanent Bacteriological Station″, was Amalija Šimec, PhD.

Institute in 1945

In 1926, Permanent Bacteriological Station merged with the Institute Hygiene of Ljubljana, which consisted of three units, including also the Unit of Bacterial Epidemiology. From 1929, the head of the unit was Prof. Milica Valentinčič – Petrović, PhD.

By the end of the Second World War, after the Institute of Hygiene had been suspended, The Unit of Bacterial Epidemiology moved to the premises that used to belong to the former Clinic for Infectious Diseases of the General Hospital of Ljubljana, located at the address Zaloška 4, Ljubljana.

The Institute of Microbiology (subsequently renamed Institute of Microbiology and Immunology) was founded in 1945 in the premises of former Clinic for Infectious Diseases of the General Hospital of Ljubljana, Zaloška 4, where it is located also today, yet in reconstructed buildings.

Heads of the Institute

Prof. Milica Valentinčič – Petrović, MD
Head of the Institute and of the Chair in the years 1945-1961

Prof. Milica Valentinčič – Petrović, MD, the first head of the Institute, was the initiator of the basic bacteriological, parasitological and serological diagnostics. In these endeavors, she had full support of her colleagues Stanko Banič, Miha Likar in Marjan Vozelj, young and ambitious medical doctors who paved the way to modern bacteriology, virology, parasitology and immunology. At that time, basic and applied research started to grow. The most significant research studies from that period were dealing with the investigation of bacterial genetics, resistance to antibiotics and immunology. The scientific and research work was expanded to virology and use of tissue cultures. Prof. Valentičič was actively involved in the foundation of the Slovenian Microbiology Section within the Yugoslav Microbiology Association (1958), a precursor of the present Slovenian Microbiological Society.

Prof. Stanko Banič, MD, PhD

Head of the Institute 1961-1983
and of the Chair 1961-1977

In 1961, after the retirement of Prof. Valentinčič, the leadership of the Institute was entrusted to Prof. Stanko Banič, MD, PhD, who, in cooperation with his colleagues, all of them highly renowned specialists in microbiology, greatly contributed to major improvements in microbiological diagnostics by introducing new bacteriological, mycological, virological, parasitological and immunological techniques. The research work of the Institute was extended to studying new bacterial media, bacteria of the intestinal track and their toxins, chemotherapy and vitaminology. The diagnostic and research work was expanded and intensified in the field of virology, where noteworthy results were obtained in the experiments with antiviral agents. In 1976, Prof. Banič, in cooperation with his colleagues of the Institute and with the colleagues of the allied institutions, founded the Slovenian Immunology Society in 1976 and was also its first president. In 1977, still under the leadership of Professor Banič, the Institute was divided into two organizational units, The Institute of Microbiology and the Chair of Microbiology and Parasitology.

Prof. Miha Likar, MD, BSc (Biol), PhD

Head of the Institute 1983-1993
and of the Chair of Microbiology and Parasitology 1977-1985

After the retirement of Professor Banič, Prof. Miha Likar, MD, BSc (Biol), PhD was appointed Head of the Institute. During his tenure, the Institute considerably increased and expanded the activities in healthcare diagnostics. Improvements at all levels were particularly due to the reorganization of the Institute which further divided the departments of bacteriology, virology, parasitology, and immunology into laboratories, specialized in diagnostics of related groups of microorganisms and/or agents causing infections of particular human organs or organ systems. The laboratories were conducted by first class specialists in their corresponding specialties who further developed and introduced the most advanced diagnostic methods into practice. As a result, the revenues of healthcare diagnostics were increasing considerably and conditions for research and development were improving accordingly. In 1987, the Institute was allocated new laboratory premises at the newly constructed Faculty of Medicine in Ljubljana, Korytkova 2. The Institute was thus in position to employ several most gifted junior research fellows and residents in clinical microbiology. The number of research papers published in most eminent international scientific journals was noticeably increasing. The most prominent research papers published in that time were the papers on virology and on interferonology. In 1987, Prof. Ana Zlata Dragaš, MD, PhD, a member of the staff of the Institute, founded the Section of Clinical Microbiology and Hospital Infections within the Slovenian Medical Association. The Section took on the leading role in conducting highly professional healthcare within the Slovenian microbiological setting.


Organizational Structure of the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology

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