Jean Giaja & the Belgrade School of Physiology

Rediscovering hibernation

Jean Giaja’s work in the field of thermoregulation and bioenergetics

This project aims to elucidate and bring to a wider research community the work of the Sorbonne graduate and member of several national academies of sciences, the Serbian scientist, Professor Jean Giaja (Ivan Djaja). Prof. Giaja was an excellent physiologist and experimenter and his research on hibernation and hypothermia published mainly in the 1950s in esteemed journals still needs to be rediscovered for its particular significance to modern brain physiology, cardiology and low-temperature physiology in general.

Jean Giaja portraitFounder of physiology studies in the Balkans and the pioneer of research on hypothermia, Jean Giaja was born 1884 in L’Havre. Giaja gained his PhD at the Sorbonne in 1909. In 1910 he established the first Chair of Physiology in the Balkans and organized the first Serbian Institute for Physiology at the School of Philosophy of the University of Belgrade. His most notable papers were in the field of thermoregulation and bioenergetics. Giaja became member of the Serbian and Croatian academies of science and doctor honoris causa of Sorbonne. In 1952 for the seminal work on the behaviour of deep cooled warm blooded animals he became associate member of the National Medical Academy in Paris. In 1955 the French Academy of Sciences elected him as associate member in place of deceased Sir Alexander Fleming. Giaja died 1957 in Belgrade during a congress held in his honour (an In memoriam was published in Nature).

Giaja’s main scientific contributions are in the field of thermoregulation. In 1938, he published two notable books, “L’Homéotermie” and “La Thermorégulation” (Hermann, Paris), and his department soon became internationally known. He left more than 200 scientific and other papers and the golden DaVincian credo Nulla dies sine experimento. His legacy was continued by several generations of researchers, the most prominent among them being Stefan Gelineo, Radoslav Andjus and Vojislav Petrović. His PhD student, Radoslav Andjus, was the first to reanimate rats in deep hypothermia (0° to 2°C) using the closed-vessel method of cooling animals, in which hypoxia and hypercapnia are combined.

Jean Giaja at Sorbonne
Jean Giaja at Sorbonne. Jean Giaja is in the sitting row, second from the right.

What is our goal?

It is planned in this project to recover these seminal discoveries by documenting scans of important papers, whole Sorbonne thesis from 1909, monographs by Giaja on Homeothermia and Thermoregulation, 1938 (obtained only in one copy through antiquaries online services), restore and digitalize his textbook “Fundamentals of Physiology” (1923) first of its kind in the Region (only one copy held); digitize, copy and upload a 30 min movie on Giaja’s work an lab experiments from the late 1950s, as well as an awarded 15 min TV documentary the ”Limits of Life” on hibernation and hypothermia for which prof R.K. Andjus wrote the scenario. The movies are commented in Serbian. For a wider audience dubbing to English will be provided.

Giaja has constructed an original apparatus for the measurement of gas exchange in laboratory animals that is the only lab equipment to survive bombing of Belgrade in 1941. However, it was not well maintained in the course of the years and it was planned to reconstruct and rebuild it for the purpose of the project. With the aid of a programmer, virtual experiments could also be planned on such a setup.

PPT presentations with voice recordings of the life and work of prof Jean Giaja (by P.R. Andjus) and of the seminal work of prof. R.K. Andjus from one of his distinguished students dr Stanko Stojilković now head of lab at NIH, Bethesda will be uploaded.

Presentation at the FENS History Corner

FENS 2016 logo

An exhibition of posters on the History of Neuroscience which will go on throughout the Forum. It is the perfect place to learn more about the History of Neuroscience, rest while reading posters, or discover FENS History Committee’s new project: the European Brain Museum. The exhibition is divided into three sections: the European Brain Museum Project, the History of Neuroscience in Scandinavia (which is also the topic of the History Committee Networking event), and the display of a few of our many online history projects.

[FENS History Corner]

How to navigate this website?

We would like your visit to this website dedicated to Prof. Jean Giaja to be enjoyable and informative, so this section contains information on how you can navigate around. We planned this project to be a large database about Prof. Giaja’s work.

At the top of every page, there are guidance menus listed under very distinct categories such as Biography, Bibliography, etc. All these areas follow similar layout to display relevant information in a form of posts. Categories like these allow for a broad grouping of post topics, and tags are generally used to describe the post in more detail. However, on the right panel of every post you can find a search box allowing you to search the site by your own keywords.

We hope you will enjoy your visit to this website!