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Wenzel (Weneslaus) Leopold Gruber

Born 1814
Died 1890

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Russian anatomist, born December 24, 1814, Krukanitz in German Bohemia; died September 30, 1890.

Biography of Wenzel (Weneslaus) Leopold Gruber

Wenzel Leopold Gruber received his first education in an ecclesiastical institution near Marienbad, then attended the Gymnasium and the university in Prague. In order that he could assume the position as prosector, he became doctor of surgery in 1842, and in 1844 was conferred doctor of medicine.

He was prosector of normal anatomy at the University of Prague 1842-1847, first under Joseph Hyrtl (1810-1894) then under Vincenz Alexander Bochdalek (1801-1883). Although qualified, he was unable to achieve a professorship in his native country. Therefore, in 1846, on the initiative of Nicolai Ivanovich Pirogov, he was invited to become first prosector for normal, practical, and pathological anatomy at the medical academy in St. Petersburg. This department was headed by Pirogov.

One of the conditions of the appointment was that Gruber was to assume the chair of descriptive anatomy after three years. He entered his position in 1847, but had to execute his profession under extremely difficult circumstances. Both intrigues and other obstacles occasioned that the agreement on his appointment to professor was broken, and he had to struggle to sustain. A struggle, however, that earned him a great respect.

When Pirogov left the Academy, a separate chair of pathological anatomy was created, and Gruber from 1855 was entrusted the directorship of practical anatomy, remaining in that position for some 30 years. It was not until 1858 that he received the appointment as full professor of this discipline. After 25 years of service he was re-elected for five more years in 1872, 1877, and 1882. On the occasion of his 35th jubilee he was celebrated in a way rarely experienced by Russians, and never before by a foreigner. He died of stroke.

Gruber played an active role in the establishment of the anatomical-physiological institute and founded a museum. One of the most experienced and active anatomists, Gruber over a period of 41 years published almost 500 anatomical works. Among his topics were monsters and deformations, hermaphroditism, gynecomastia, etc.

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