Short history of Uppsala University and the origins of MCB


Uppsala University was founded in 1477 with teaching in theology, philosophy and law. After 1515 teaching rapidly declined and ceased but was resumed in 1595. The same year a chair in Medicine was instituted but it was not until the medical faculty was founded in 1613 that the first professor Johannes Chesnecopherus assumed the position named Physiology, which corresponded to medicine and physics.
In 1628 a professorship in Anatomy and Botany was created with Johannes Franck as the first holder. The most prominent holders of this chair are Olof Rudbeck (1660), Nils Rosén von Rosenstein (1741) and Carl von Linné, Linnaeus (1742). Rudbeck discovered the lymphatic system and built the anatomical theatre, which is still a major attraction in Uppsala. Rosén was the father of paediatrics in Sweden and Linnaeus with his Systema Naturae is the most famous Swedish scientist all categories with continued impact in the 21th century.

In 1774 a professorship in Anatomy was instituted with Adolph Murray as the first holder but the Department of Anatomy was not created until 1850. In 1863 the Department of Physiology budded off from the Anatomy department and Frithiof Holmgren was the first Professor of Physiology in a modern sense. Within the Anatomy department a chair in Anatomy and Histology was instituted in 1877 with Edward Clason as the first holder and this eventually resulted in a second budding from the Anatomy department in 1932, when the Department of Histology was created.
In 1980 the Department of Histology was renamed to Medical Cell Biology, which reunited with the Anatomy department in 1998 and with half of the Physiology department in 2002. Therefore the current Department of Medical Cell Biology has been fertilized by methodology and experiences from different areas and the current expertise includes molecular, cellular, organ and animal biology/physiology.

MCB is rather unique in being dominated by diabetes research. This direction started in the Histology Department during the 1950ies by Bo Hellman and his pupil Claes Hellerström who controlled research during 4 decades. Other research areas originate from the same period in the Department of Physiology where Hans Ulfvendahl and Karl-Johan Öbrink pioneered kidney and gastrointestinal physiology, respectively. Öbrink was also instrumental in the creation of Uppsala Biomedical Centre, a huge complex for research and education where the department is located.