The Polish School of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh (1941-1949)

The establishment of the Polish School of Medicine in March 1941 was a unique wartime academic initiative.

Graduates and friends of the Polish School of Medicine

Graduates and Friends of the Polish School of Medicine, Academic Representatives and Memorial Fund Scholars attending the Polish School of Medicine anniversary celebrations, 19-20 June 2006

Although originally intended to meet the needs of students and doctors in the Polish armed forces, the School opened its doors to civilians from the outset.

Students followed a Polish curriculum, were taught mainly in Polish, and were awarded a Polish degree.

By the time the school closed in 1949, over 336 students had matriculated. 227 had graduated with a medical diploma (MBChB) and 19 obtained a doctorate or MD.

Only a few graduates returned to Poland after the war - most remained in Britain. Some emigrated to the US, Canada, Australia and elsewhere.

Though older and far fewer in number today, graduates still keep the spirit of the Polish School of Medicine alive and maintain their links with the University.

The Polish School of Medicine Memorial Fund

The Fund was set up in 1986 by graduates and friends of the Polish School.

Their aims were to acknowledge the tremendous help the University had given to Poles during WWII and to foster links between the University of Edinburgh and Polish medical universities.

Income from the Fund provides scholarships for talented Polish medical university scientists to come to Edinburgh to undertake further study or research.

It also supports the Professor Antoni Jurasz lectureship, allowing a nominated Head of Department from Edinburgh Medical School to give a lecture in Poznan and one other Polish medical university.

The Polish School of Medicine Historical Collection

Polish School of Medicine crest

The Collection was established in 1986, on the 45th anniversary of the founding of the Polish School, by the late Dr Wiktor Tomaszewski who had been a senior member of staff at the Polish School and a much revered Edinburgh GP. It is now under the care of the University Collections Division.

The Collection contains many medals of medical interest, sculptures, paintings, photographs and books about the School, and other artefacts.

Many of the items were gifted by Polish medical universities, former students, staff and graduates of the Polish School and by Dr Tomaszewski himself.


Much of the Collection is on view in the Chancellor’s Building at Little France.

A satellite exhibition is located in the Board Room of the Lister Postgraduate Institute in Hill Square.

The Polish School of Medicine 70th Anniversary Exhibition

About the exhibition

This year, 2011 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Polish School of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Once again some of the School’s surviving graduates will gather in Edinburgh from all across the globe to celebrate the memory of their School from 2-4th May 2011.

The history and celebration of the Polish School of Medicine has given rise to an extensive archive of documents, photographs and historical objects. Much of this material can only be seen or consulted by appointment. To mark the 70th anniversary of the School, a special exhibition is being mounted in the Main University Library Gallery for the months of May and June 2011. This will allow members of the public access to some of this wonderful history and give them an opportunity to learn about the achievements of this unique wartime academic initiative, past and present.

Artefacts on view include documents, war medals , photographs and other material belonging to some of the School’s graduates, a striking and powerful group of 5 bronze sculptures by the last Dean of the Polish School of Medicine, Professor Jakub Rostowski, Polish commemorative medals and one of a set of enchanting pen and ink drawing by Josef Mynarski, a Polish artist whose drawings have been used as illustrations in a number of books written about the School by the late Dr Wiktor Tomaszewski. Viewers will also be able to learn about the role that the Paderewski Memorial Hospital played in the education of these Polish students and doctors.

A programme of Wednesday talks -Curator Insights - and Saturday curator- led tours of the exhibition has been arranged.

For information about the exhibition and these events please see the Exhibition Flyer:

View the exhibition

4th May to 25th June 2011 from Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am - 5.00pm

(Except Saturday 18th and Saturday 25th June 2011 when the exhibition will be open from 10 am - 1pm only)


Main Library Exhibition Room - ground floor, University Main Library, George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LJ

Contact details

For further information or to view the Collection, please contact Dr Maria Dlugolecka-Graham MBE (Wednesdays from 9.30am-2.30pm).

Dr Maria Dlugolecka-Graham MBE Polish School of Medicine Coordinator for the University of Edinburgh
Chancellor’s Building, 2nd Floor
49 Little France Crescent
Edinburgh, EH16 4SB
Tel: +44(0)131 478 0392

Accessibility menu