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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 128095, 5 pages
Review Article

The Beginnings of Pancreatology as a Field of Experimental and Clinical Medicine

1Department of Physiology, Jagiellonian University Medical College, 16 Grzegorzecka Street, 31-531 Krakow, Poland
2Department of Diagnostics, Chair of Clinical Biochemistry, Jagiellonian University Medical College, 15 A Kopernika Street, 31-501 Krakow, Poland

Received 23 March 2015; Accepted 24 April 2015

Academic Editor: Flavia Prodam

Copyright © 2015 Piotr Ceranowicz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This review presents the history of discoveries concerning the pancreas. In antiquity and the Middle Ages knowledge about the anatomy of the pancreas was very limited and its function was completely unknown. Significant progress was first made in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Johann Georg Wirsüng, the prosector of the University of Padua, discovered the main pancreatic duct, and Giovanni Santorini discovered the accessory duct. Regnier de Graaf was the first to perform pancreatic exocrine studies, and Paul Langerhans’s 1869 discovery of pancreatic islets was the first step toward recognizing the pancreas as an endocrine gland. The twentieth century brought the discovery of insulin and other pancreatic hormones. To date, histochemical staining, transmission electron microscopy, and immunohistochemistry enabled the discovery of five cell types with identified hormonal products in adult human pancreatic islets. Twentieth-century pancreatic studies led to crucial advances in scientific knowledge and were recognized, among other things, with seven Nobel Prizes. The first of these went to Ivan Pavlov in 1904 for his work on the physiology of digestion. The most recent was awarded to Günter Blobel in 1999 for discovering signaling mechanisms that govern the transport and localization of proteins within pancreatic acinar cells.