On 29 November 2021 doctorate honoris causa of the Jagiellonian University was conferred upon Prof. Richard Van Praagh, an eminent cardiologist, researcher and teacher, a world-renowned expert in paediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery, for his contribution to congenital heart disease treatment and the development of paediatric cardiac surgery and cardiology in Poland.
The ceremony was held in a hybrid mode. The participants gathered in Collegium Novum at a special Jagiellonian University Senate session, chaired by the JU Rector Prof. Jacek Popiel, met online with Professor Van Praagh and other participants in Bedford, USA, where Prof. Tomasz Mroczek from the JU Faculty of Medicine presented the honorary doctorate recipient with the diploma.
The doctorate honoris causa was conferred upon Prof. Van Praagh following a motion put forward by the JU Faculty of Medicine. The title was awarded for his outstanding contribution to creating the commonly recognised essentials of contemporary pathology of congenital heart diseases and the unquestionable and invaluable contribution to the development of paediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery in Kraków and Poland.
The laudatory address was delivered by Prof. Janusz Skalski from the JU Faculty of Medicine, who presented the achievements and merits of Prof. Van Praagh and cordially thanked him for his great services rendered to paediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery in Kraków.
“Our Dear Master, we, as your disciples, admire you, trying to imitate your incredible industriousness and persistence in the pursuit of perfection … You have become an oracle on pathology of congenital heart diseases and a widely respected and acclaimed expert. For many years, we have benefitted from your great teaching talent and your immense kindness for your students and colleagues”, said Prof. Skalski.
In his address, Prof. Van Praagh thanked for the award and stressed his long-time close friendship with the Jagiellonian University. Then he delivered the lecture entitled Understanding Normally and Abnormally Related Great Arteries: Equations, Apoptosis, Switches, Rotations and Synergy, in which he presented a conception whose origins are linked to his last visit to Kraków in 2010.
Professor Richard Van Praagh is a world renowned cardiologist and scientist. He graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Toronto in 1954 and has specialised in paediatrics, internal medicine, pathology, heart and lung physiology as well as paediatric embryology and cardiology. From 1965 until retirement Prof. Van Praagh worked in the Children’s Hospital Medical Centre at the Harvard Medical School. His fundamental work Segmental approach to congenital heart disease, published in 1972, has had a permanent impact on anatomical and physiological foundations of congenital heart diseases. He has authored 304 research papers and 67 book chapters. Prof. Van Praagh has greatly contributed to the development of paediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery in Poland, including the Jagiellonian University, with which he has collaborated since 1975. In 1975-2002 all paediatric cardiologists and cardiac surgeons from Kraków underwent training in his department. It should be noted that the Kraków centre of congenital heart diseases treatment is based on the principles of paediatric cardiology laid down by Prof. Van Praagh.