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The Warsaw Voice » Other » August 13, 2008
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Ukrainian Honorary Doctorates for Polish Vets
August 13, 2008   
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Three Polish scientists have received honorary doctorates from the National University of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology in Lviv, Ukraine, to mark 550 years of veterinary science in that country this year.

The Ukrainian university conferred the honorary doctorates on Prof. Kazimierz Kosiniak-Kamysz from the Cracow University of Agriculture, Prof. Józef Nicpoń from the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, and Prof. Paweł Sysa from the Warsaw Agricultural University (SGGW).

Horse latitudes
Kazimierz Kosiniak-Kamysz, a professor at the Cracow University of Agriculture, is a world-renowned scientific authority on animal reproduction and seminology, a new branch of science dealing with fertility. He is a specialist on the reproduction and breeding of horses. His doctoral dissertation dealt with stallion sperm. He specializes in research on agritourism, equine reproduction, horse breeding, and hippotherapy. He heads the horse breeding department of the Cracow University of Agriculture.

Kosiniak-Kamysz has completed extensive research training at home and abroad, including work at the Animal Reproduction Laboratory in Cambridge, UK, and the anatomy and histology unit of the Veterinary Department at the University of Milan, Italy. He was dean of the animal husbandry department of the Cracow University of Agriculture in 1984-1987 and then worked as the school's vice-rector for research and international cooperation. In the 1990s he was the university's rector for two terms.

Kosiniak-Kamysz has published more than 170 scientific papers, mostly in English, in renowned scientific periodicals in Poland and abroad. He has co-written three books on animal andrology and equine reproduction. He has lectured at a number of universities in the United States, including colleges in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL; Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY; and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI. He has also lectured at the University of Guelph in Canada and in colleges in Egypt, Italy and Ukraine.

He has a number of research projects to his credit. At the Cracow University of Agriculture, he has launched new subjects related to the breeding and reproduction of working dogs, hippotherapy and dog-assisted therapy. These subjects have enjoyed a lot of interest among students for years.

Since the fall of communism in 1989, many new horse breeding and riding centers have sprung up in Poland, along with hundreds of facilities that offer horse-related attractions, Kosiniak-Kamysz says. This is due to a fashion for horses that had swept Europe over the past 50 years, leading to growing demand for qualified horseback riding instructors and other staff.

"The most rapidly developing areas that involve the use of horses are tourism and recreation," Kosiniak-Kamysz says. "Many equestrian centers have been set up in and around large urban areas. For example, there are already over a hundred near Cracow. Many of these centers need specialist staff to look after horses."

Kosiniak-Kamysz and his team have researched the reproductive values of Polish horses. The studies have involved the laboratory evaluation of stallion sperm and the conditions in which these animals are kept in stables. Other projects have focused on the breeding of horses and ponies.

Run hare, run
Prof. Józef Nicpoń heads the clinical diagnostics division of the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences. In 1996-2002 he was dean of the university's veterinary medicine department. His scientific achievements include 270 publications in both Polish and international periodicals, in addition to a number of course books and textbooks. He has supervised 16 Ph.D. dissertations. His main field of interest is water-electrolyte balance, including functional kidney disorders. He also specializes in metabolic diseases in cattle and milk cows, and in methods to prevent and treat diarrhea in calves. His research projects have focused on issues such as biophysical and biochemical factors determining the functional capacity of horses, and alimentary and respiratory tract diseases in dogs.

Nicpoń has spent some time abroad on a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, an organization supporting international research cooperation. He has worked and trained in many veterinary centers in European cities such as Brno, Kosice, Kharkov, Belgrade, Novy Sad, Munich, Leipzig, and Berlin. He has also worked in Hanover, Germany, several times, including a 29-month stay as part of a Humboldt fellowship. Moreover, he has honed his research skills at three U.S. universities, Cornell, Purdue, and Iowa State University.

Nicpoń is vice-chairman of the Veterinary Science Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He is a member of many Polish and international scientific associations, including Societas Humboldtiana Polonorum, the World Association for Buiatrics, and the Polish Association of Small Animal Veterinarians. He is a member of the scientific boards of nine periodicals.

Nicpoń is currently doing research on hares in Poland. Together with 30 other scientists, he is investigating why the country's hare population is diminishing and why these animals are getting weaker. Poland's hare population began to decrease drastically about 20 years ago. Back in the 1980s, Poland shipped tens of thousands of hares abroad every year to help revive hare populations in other countries in Europe. Polish hares were considered to be the healthiest and strongest in Europe at the time.

Today Poland's hare population is shrinking because these small furry animals are increasingly targeted by hunters and are falling prey to foxes and stray dogs, Nicpoń says. "Vaccinating foxes against rabies is a death sentence for hares," he says. "Protected from the disease, foxes are multiplying with nothing to hinder them. A similar mistake was made with ravens. Hunting was banned and the birds multiplied. I've heard of a flock of ravens killing a young calf. It's the weakest animals that pay for such mistakes. It's hard to find an otter, mink or muskrat these days. Gophers have practically died out as well."

Pig heart
In another project, a group of Wrocław scientists supervised by Nicpoń are conducting an experiment on pigs to develop new forms of treatment for people with heart problems.
"We chose pigs because their hearts are built in a similar way to the human heart," says Nicpoń. "We have implanted pacemakers in four healthy pigs. The devices caused the pigs' heart rate to almost double. This means the action of their hearts is comparable to that of a human being under continuous stress."

In an early stage of the heart disease, the human body often reacts in a similar way-by increasing the number of heartbeats. This stage of the disease is the least known to researchers. Usually, the disease is discovered only later, often after the person has had a heart attack.

The pigs will provide scientists with information on changes to the heart that occur in the first few weeks of circulatory problems. Basic tests are being performed on the animals every day, and they are undergoing cardiological tests every three weeks. The scientists are trying to find out how quickly the heart increases in size and what other irregularities may occur. The next stage will be to try to treat the animals with methods used on humans, to see how selected groups of medications act and how effective they are.

Tadeusz Belerski
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