Page 31 - Bauerfeind life international_02_2012

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magazine 2012/2
Prof. Waldemar L. Olszewski is to be awarded the Ratschow Memorial Medal for his life’s work,
at the annual conference of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Phlebologie (German Society of
Phlebology) on September 21, 2012. With his work over the decades, Prof. Olszewski has made
a significant contribution to the field of lymphology.
“Appreciation for an underestimated
specialist field”
Recognition for Prof. Waldemar L. Olszewski
The particular interest Prof. Waldemar L. Ol-
szewski has shown in the human lymph system
and everything connected with it dates back
to the start of his medical studies. “The text-
books contained plenty of information about
the circulation of the blood, but nothing
about what goes on in the interstitial space,”
recalls Prof. Olszewski, who is currently a
professor at the Medical Research Center of
the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.
“What happens there? How does the intercel-
lular fluid from tissue find its way back into
the circulatory system, and what are the forces
driving this fluid? These questions bothered
me. Not to mention the unresolved questions
about the chemistry of lymph. This is how I
later became concerned with disorders of the
lymphatic system, particularly lymphedemas.”
Basic research
Over the following decades, the physiol-
ogy and surgery of the lymphatic system
became one of Prof. Olszewski’s main areas
of scientific and clinical interest. Numerous
groundbreaking discoveries in lymphology
can be traced back to him. For example, he
made the discovery that the human lymph
system is subject to spontaneous, rhythmic
contractions. Prof. Olszewski also developed
the procedure for lymphovenous anastomosis
and conducted research into the chemistry
of human lymph, as well as into the hydraulic
contractility of subcutaneous tissue.
Even the policy of administering low-dose
penicillin over long periods, now practiced
with great success in a number of Asian
countries, to help prevent chronic derma-
titis and lymphangitis was inspired by him
and his work on the bacteriology of human
“Lymphological research is actually more of
a hobby of mine, albeit one I am really en-
thusiastic about,” explains Prof. Olszewski,
in spite of these various successes. “Vascu-
lar surgery is my bread and butter.”
And on this point he voices his fundamental
criticism: “The world of academic science
has totally underestimated the field of
lymphology. This is gradually starting to
change. As such, I feel that being recog-
nized with the Ratschow Medal is not just
a great personal honor, but also shows
significant appreciation of a specialist field
that has often failed to get the recognition
it deserves.”
The Curatorium Interna-
tionalis Angiologiae has
awarded the Ratschow
Commemorative Medal
every year since 1969. The
medal recognizes particu-
larly deserving scientists
from the field of vascular
medicine and associated
disciplines for their life’s
work. For many years
Bauerfeind AG has been a
patron of the foundation
awarding the medal.
Dr. Hans-Jürgen Thomä,
Bauerfeind, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c.
Kurt-Udo Tiedjen, award
winner Prof. Dr. Waldemar
L. Olszewski and Prof. Dr.
Eberhard Rabe (f. l. t. r.).
The Ratschow
Memorial Medal