On April 07, 2009, Professor Dr. med. habil. Witold Sowinski, doyen of Polish mycology and dermatology and honorary member of the German-speaking Mycological Society, passed away. Lacking relevant biographical data, the undersigned, unfortunately, cannot trace the exact vita of the deceased, including his scientific career. Nevertheless, his work in mycology as well as his close contacts to German mycologists will be briefly portrayed here, based on personal experience.
At the 1st “Symposium mycologiae medicinalis 1963” in Warsaw, Poland, numerous mycologists of the German Democratic Republic had the opportunity to first meet many prominent representatives of international mycology. The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Prof. Dr. Stefania Jablonska and with broad international participation. During the meeting Prof. Dr. Jan Alkiewicz, the world-renowned expert of nail diseases, and his colleague Dr. W. Sowinski took also care of the German guests. This resulted in first contacts with several colleagues from the German Democratic Republic, some of them lasting for a lifetime, like with Alkiewicz and Sowinski. As early as at the 3rd meeting of the Society for Medical Mycology of the GDR in 1966, Witold Sowinski gave his lecture “On the Therapy of Nail Trichophyty”. At this meeting, Prof. Alkiewicz accentuated the focus of the scientific work at the Poznan Dermatology Clinic by his discourse “On the Diagnostics and Prophylaxis of Nail Trichophyty”.
Another mycological highlight – also in view of the internationality of the audience – was the 2nd Symposium “mycologiae medicinalis 1967” in Poznan under the scientific chairmanship of Prof. Dr. J. Alkiewicz and W. Sowinski which covered the broad range of medical mycology with the focus on dermato- and onychomykoses.
In the following years mycological symposia with international participation were held about every four years at different Polish cities with mycologists from Germany East and West attending. Naturally, these presented popular opportunities to establish and maintain contacts with the German colleagues.
On the other side Polish guests were always present at the mycology meetings in the GDR, and very often Witold Sowinski attended.
Of the numerous papers by Witold Sowinski many were published in the journal “Mykosen” [Mycoses]; for example and to name only a few: Alkiewicz J, Sowinski W Trichophytosis of nails as an occupational problem. Mykosen 1967: 10: 463-6, Sowinski W On the therapy of nail trichophytosis. Mykosen 1967; 10: 453-8, Sowinski W In memory of Prof. Dr. J. Alkiewicz. Mykosen 1979; 22: 221-2. Further papers by Witold Sowinski were published in German journals, e. g., “Hautarzt”, “Archiv für Klinische und Experimentelle Dermatologie” , and “Dermatologische Wochenschrift”. Furthermore, W. Sowinski’s earned great merit by his morphological studies on the spreading of dermatophytes in the nail plate.
In recognition of his scientific achievements in the field of onychomykosis research und of his dedication to establish lasting relations among German and Polish mycologists, Prof. Dr. med. habil. Witold Sowinski was appointed an honorary member of our society.
His close ties to the German-speaking Mycological Society are documented by his attendance at the meeting in Frankfurt/Oder in 1998 when he was already 81 years old.
Everybody who knew him will always remember Witold Sowinski in gratitude of his true devotion.
Claus Seebacher (Dresden)
3rd meeting of the Society of Medical Mycology of the GDR at Leipzig. Left to right: Witold Sowinski, Poznan, Otto Male, Vienna, Waltraud Braun, Leipzig, Friedrich Staib, Würzburg.
Participants of the 2nd Symposium “mycologiae medicinalis 1967” in Poznan. Lower row right to left: Jan Alkiewicz, Poznan, Hans Götz, Essen, Stefania Jablonska, Warsaw, Raymond Vanbreuseghem, Antwerp, Hans Rieth, Hamburg; 2nd from the left: Witold Sowinski, Poznan.