Czech Republic

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It was not until 1987 that toxicology was recognized by the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (ČSAV) as being a scientific discipline, and was classified as an independent combined medical discipline.

At the same time the Chair of Toxicology at the Institute of Postgraduate Medical and Pharmaceutical Studies (ILF, presently Institute for Postgraduate Medical Education - IPVZ) in Prague was established.

Although not initially recognized as a scientific discipline, toxicology began to make its presence felt in all areas - health care, education, the chemical and food industries, and later in relation to the environment - after the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918.

Health Care

The Minister of Health, Vavro Šrobár, had originally been engaged in the planning of a national public health institute which, with a donation from the Rockefeller Foundation was opened on November 5, 1925 as the NIPH.

During the time of the First Republic, the NIPH became an eminent scientific institution. Its activities included the manufacture of sera and vaccines, wide-ranging scientific activities, and participation in bacteriological and pharmaceutical research. Another important part of the institute was a public health department concerned with nutritional hygiene, occupational health, living conditions, etc. In 1942, a veterinary department was set up containing laboratories for the analysis of meat and milk.

In 1952, an edict by the Ministry of Health included the establishment of the Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, the Institute of Hygiene, and the National Institute for Research and Control of Drugs. A fourth institute was added in 1962, the Institute of Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Diseases.

On January 1, 1953, the Department of Veterinary Hygiene was established within the Ministry of Agriculture (1).

One of the most prominent people in Czech toxicology was MUDr. Jaroslav Teisinger, DrSc. (1902-1985), founder of the Czech occupational medicine school, who also founded the first advisory bureau for occupational diseases in 1932. In 1942, with his participation, the First Congress of Occupational Medicine was convened and made the motion to consider, in the program of the Second Congress (1947), the problem of solvents in the working environment.

In 1947, at the Charles University Faculty of Medicine there was established the Clinic of Occupational Diseases. Prof. Teisinger became its first Head Physician. The Clinic served as an undergraduate and postgraduate training facility. The scope of the Teisinger school was on the one hand problems of occupational pulmonary diseases (silicosis, asbestosis, allergic pulmonary diseases), and on the other, problems of toxicology. In 1952, Prof. Teisinger founded the Institute of Occupational Hygiene and Occupational Diseases which is now incorporated in the National Institute of Public Health as the Center of Occupational Medicine. There, in the early 1950s workplace limits for toxic substances were recommended and established, with Prof. Teisinger presiding over that activity. In 1962, a Toxicology Information Center was established at the Clinic. It was one of the first not only in Europe but in the whole world, its head being MUDr. Jarmila Filipová. It was a unique facility that provided information on the diagnosis and treatment of acute intoxications, for the needs of professionals and the lay public in the Czech Republic and abroad. On the initiative of Prof. Teisinger, in 1968, the file of the Toxicology Information Center was officially recognized by the University Hospital directorate as a department of the Clinic, and retained the name, Toxicology Information Center (2).

The Expert Group for Toxicological Chemistry of the Czechoslovak Chemical Society commenced its activities in 1964. Its members are recruited from among chemists, physicians, pharmaceutists, veterinarians, the military and other professions. Its founder and first committee chairman was Prof. MUDr. Ing, Dr. Karel Kácl, DrSc. (1900-1986), chairman of the Chair of Medical Chemistry I at the Charles University Faculty of Medicine in Prague in the years 1945-1970. In the pre-WW2 period he had founded the Department for Chemical Poisons. In 1953, he established a laboratory, the name of which was changed to the Institute for Toxicology and Forensic Chemistry - up to 1990 together with the Ist Institute for Medical and Forensic Chemistry forming a common Chair. In 1990 that Chair was divided into the First Institute of Medical Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Institute for Toxicology and Forensic Chemistry, the latter existing independently from 1990-1998, and now integrated into the Institute of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology of the First Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty General Hospital.

Military toxicology

The Chair of Military Toxicology was formed in September 1, 1951, and dedicated to problems of chemical weapons and the prevention of their effects. In the early 1950s, the activities were purely educational. Later, research, mostly on yperite (mustard gas), cyanide and nerve-paralyzing substances, was initiated. However, results were kept secret and there were only very few publications. A practical output was research, development and introduction of the re-activator pralidoxime (2-PAM). In 1965, a lay syringe (LIS) containing atropine was introduced in the Czech. At the close of the 1960s, as a result of research, maximum admissible doses for nerve-paralyzing agents and yperite were recommended. In the early 1970s, research was focused on protection against nerve-paralyzing agents. In the early 1980s, very potent antidotes against nerve-paralyzing substances were developed, some of which the army is equipped with to date. The 1990s have witnessed intensive research, namely in the area of non-cholinergic effects of nerve-paralyzing agents, improved treatment of poisonings with soman and tabun, and the study of the effects of inhalation exposure to low concentrations of sarine (3).

The Field of Chemistry

The development of toxicology in the Czech Republic was influenced greatly by the appearance of the chemical industry and the production of novel chemicals, especially after WW2. As an example, we present the development of the discipline of toxicology at one faculty. Following the formation of an independent Czechoslovakia in 1918, from the Imperial and Royal Czech Polytechnic Institute in Prague, there arose the Czech Technical University in Prague, and from that in 1920, the Czech Technical University (ČVÚT), and in its framework, the Chemical and Technological Engineering University (VŠCHTI). Established therein was the Institute of Analytical and Food Chemistry, concerned with general analytical chemistry and the analysis and testing of foodstuffs, where subsequently there have been lectures on the subject of Toxicology and Forensic Chemistry and Microscopy. In the academic year 1938/39, Professor Hanuš held lectures in Analysis of Foodstuffs and practicals in Chemical Analysis of Foodstuffs and Spices and the subject The Testing of Foodstuffs. Professor Hanuš (1872-1955) can be considered to be the true founder of the chemistry and analysis of foodstuffs in our country; he is among the eminent analytical chemists of that period. In 1939, part of the curriculum in the field of food chemistry was transferred to and became a component of the curriculum of the Institute of Chemical Technology of Foodstuffs and Food Science, founded in 1925, at the VŠCHTI. The development of food chemistry and analysis in the period between the two World Wars has been underscored by the introduction of modern instruction by experts in food quality control through postgraduate studies. Much of the training was designed for state food testing institutions and the ministries. In 1952, an independent University of Chemical Technology (VŠCHT) was formed and within its framework the Faculty of Food Technology (FPT). In 1959, the Analysis of Foodstuffs was first included in the curricula of all FPT disciplines. In the academic year 1969/70 the Faculty was renamed Faculty of Food and Biochemical Technology (FPBT). In 1990, the Faculty returned to its former name.

A version of this article was published in Information Resources in Toxicology, 4th Edition, M. HORNYCHOVÁ, J. VESELÁ, Copyright Elsevier (2009).


Milestones of Toxicology

The Milestones of Toxicology poster was created by Steven G. Gilbert and Toni Hayes in 2006, and has now been translated in 12+ languages. To open or download the clickable Milestone poster in English, click HERE.  We are always looking to add new languages, contact us if you would like to contribute. 


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  • ChemInfo (database of companies operating in the area of chemistry; libraries, journals; universities, technical schools and academies; laboratories, research facilities and factories; information on chemistry on the Internet; personal sites of chemists) (ChemInfo) (databáze firem pracujících v oboru chemie; knihovny, časopisy; univerzity, odborné školy a akademie; laboratoře, výzkumná zařízení a továrny; informace o chemii na internetu; osobní stránky chemiků)
  • EcoMonitor environmental news database (database of articles and news items on the environment) (EcoMonitor zpráv o životním prostředí) (databáze článků a tiskových zpráv s tématikou životního prostředí)


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