Grmek, Mirko D(razen) 1924-2000

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GRMEK, Mirko D(razen) 1924-2000

(M. D. Grmek, M. Drazen Grmek, Mirko Drazen Grmek)

PERSONAL: Born January 9, 1924, in Krapina, Yugoslavia (now Croatia); naturalized French citizen, 1967; died March, 2000, in Paris, France; son of Milan (a lawyer) and Vera (Santovac) Grmek. Education: Attended Écoles Polytechniques de Turin et de Lucques and universities of Zagreb and Paris.

CAREER: Physician in various hospitals in Zagreb, Yugoslavia (now Croatia), 1952-60; Yugoslav Academy of Sciences, research director, 1952-60; Institute for the Study of the History of Science, Zagreb, founder, 1960, and director, 1960-63; University of Zagreb, professor of medicine, 1960-63; Center for Scientific Research, Sorbonne, Paris, France, assistant researcher and director; École Pratique des Haute Études, professor of biology and medical sciences and director of graduate studies, 1973-2000. Visiting professor at University of California, Berkeley, and University of California, Los Angeles.

AWARDS, HONORS: Elected to French Academy, 1966, French National Academy of Science, 1967, and French National Academy of Medicine, 1974.


Les sciences dans les manuscrits Slaves orientaux du moyen age, Librairie du Palais de la Decouverte (Paris, France), 1959.

L'introduction de l'expérience quantitative dans les sciences biologiques, Université de Paris (Paris, France), 1962.

(With Pierre Huard) Mille ans de chirurgie en occident, Ve-XVe siècles, R. Dacosta (Paris, France), 1966.

(As M. D. Grmek) Catalogue des manuscrits deClaude Bernard (title means "Catalog of Claude Bernard's Writings), Masson & Cie (Paris, France), 1967.

(With Pierre Huard) La chirurgie moderne, R. Dacosta (Paris, France), 1968.

(As M. D. Grmek, with Pierre Auger) Encyclopédie internationale des sciences et des techniques (title means "International Encyclopedia of Science and Technology"), 11 volumes, Presses de la Cité (Paris, France), 1969–75.

(As M. D. Grmek; with Pierre Huard) Sciences, médecine, pharmacie, de la révolution à l'empire (1789-1815), R. Dacosta (Paris, France), 1970.

Raisonnement expérimental et recherches toxicoloqiques chez Claude Bernard (title means "Claude Bernard's Experimental Reasoning and Toxicological Research"), Droz (Paris, France), 1973.

(As M. D. Grmek; with Pierre Costabel) L'académie international d'histoire des sciences: cinquante ans, 1927-1977 (title means "Fifty Years of the International Academy of the History of Science, 1927-1977"), Vrin (Paris, France), 1977.

(As M. D. Grmek) Notes pour "le rapport sur les progrès de la physiologie": Claude Bernard: manuscrit inédit présenté et commenté (title means "Notes on 'Report of Progress in Physiology' by Claude Bernard: Unedited Manuscript with Commentary"), Collège de France (Paris, France), 1979.

(As M. D. Grmek) Hippocratica: actes du colloqueHippocratique de Paris, 4-9 Septembre 1978 (title means "Hippocratica: Proceedings of the Hippocratic Colloquium of Paris, September 4-9, 1978"), Èditions du Centre national de la Recherche Scientifique (Paris, France), 1980.

(As M. Drazen Grmek; with Mario Galzigna and Hrayr Terzian) L'archivio della follia: il Manicomio di San Servolo e la nascita di una fondazione: antologia di testi e documenti, Marsilio (Venice, Italy), 1980.

Les maladies à l'aube de la civilisation occidentale: recherches sur la réalité pathologique dans le monde Grec préhistorique, archaïque, et classique, Payot (Paris, France), 1983, translation by Mireille Muellner and Leonard Muellner published as Diseases in the Ancient Greek World, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1989.

Nuove prospettive per la storia delle malattie antiche, Guida (Naples, Italy), 1988.

La première révolution biologique: réflexions sur la physiologie et la médicine du XVIIe siècle (title means "The First Biological Revolution: Reflections on Physiology and Medicine in the Seventeenth Century"), Payot (Paris, France), 1990.

Histoire du SIDA, translation by Russell C. Maulitz and Jacalyn Duffin published as History of AIDS: Emergence and Origin of a Modern Pandemic, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1990.

(As Mirko Grmek) Le nettoyage ethnique: documents historiques sur une Iiéologie Serbe, Fayard (Paris, France), 1993.

Le chaudron de médée: l'expérimentation sur le vivant dans l'antiquité, Institut Synthélabo (Le Plessis-Robinson, France), 1997.

Le legs de Claude Bernard, Fayard (Paris, France), 1997.

(With Louise L. Lambrichs) Les révoltés de Villefranche: mutinerie d'un bataillon de Waffen-SS à Villefranche-de-Rouergue, Septembre 1943, Seuil (Paris, France), 1998.

(With Danielle Gourevitch) Les maladies dans l'art antique, Fayard (Paris, France), 1998.

La guerre comme maladie sociale, et autres textes politiques, Seuil (Paris, France), 2001.

La vie, les maladies et l'histoire, Seuil (Paris, France), 2001.

Contributor of numerous scientific articles in scholarly journals. Editor of Lijecnicki Vjesnik, 1954-58.


(As Mirko Drazen Grmek; with Pierre Huard) Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu, Le premier manuscrit chirurgialTurc rédigé par Charaf ed-Ddin (1465) et Illustré de 140 Miniatures (title means "The First Turkish Surgical Manuscript Written by Charaf ed-Ddin (1465), Illustrated with 140 Miniatures"), R. Dacosta (Paris, France), 1960.

(As Mirko Drazen Grmek, with Pierre Huard) Leonardo da Vinci, Dessins scientifiques et techniques, R. Dacosta (Paris, France), 1962.

(As Mirko Drazen Grmek) Claude Bernard, Notes, mémoires et leçons sur la glycogenèse animal et le diabète, Cercle du Live Précieux (Paris, France), 1965.

(As Mirko Drazen Grmek) Claude Bernard, Cahier de notes, 1850-1860 (title means "Notebook, 1850-1860"), Gallimard (Paris, France), 1965.

(As M. D. Grmek) Andrija Stampar, U borbi za Narodno Zdravlje, University of Zagreb (Zagreb, Yugoslavia), 1966, translation by M. Halar published as Serving the Cause of Public Health: Selected Papers of Andrija Stampar, University of Zagreb (Zagreb, Yugoslavia), 1966.

Claude Bernard, Notes inédites de Claude Bernard sur les propriétés physiologiques des poisons de fléches, Specia (Paris, France), 1966.

(As Mirko Drazen Grmek; with Robert S. Cohen and Guido Cimino) On Scientific Discovery: The Erice Lectures, 1977, D. Reidel (Hingham, MA), 1981.

Storia del pensiero medico occidentale, 3 volumes, Laterza (Rome, Italy), 1993–98.

(And contributor) Western Medical Thought fromAntiquity to the Middle Ages, translated by Antony Shugaar, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1998.

SIDELIGHTS: A Yugoslavian-born physician and scholar, Mirko D. Grmek earned international recognition as an expert on the history of early Western medicine and epidemiology. His extensive writings include important studies of medical theory and disease in ancient and medieval times; edited volumes on subjects ranging from scientific discovery to modern surgery; publications devoted to the life and work of nineteenth-century French physiologist Claude Bernard; and hundreds of scientific articles. Upon Grmek's death in 2000, Henk A. M. J.ten Have wrote in Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy that Grmek was "one of the most famous scholars in the history of medicine."

In Les maladies à l'aube de la civilisation occidentale: recherches sur la réalité pathologique dans le monde Grec prehistorique, archaique, et classique, translated into English as Diseases in the Ancient Greek World, Grmek offers a study of disease in the ancient Mediterranean. Drawing upon a combination of literary evidence based on analysis of Greek and Roman texts and newer techniques such as evolutionary epidemiology and paleo-osteology, Grmek suggests that a number of diseases presumed to have been unknown in antiquity—such as syphilis and favism—were indeed observed. However, since ancient scholars described their symptoms in archaic philosophical and folkloric terms, modern researchers often fail to recognize the historical continuities of such diseases. Rather than attempt to establish similarities between ancient and modern diagnoses, the conventional approach to the subject, Grmek focuses on the differences. In this way, as John Scarborough observed in the Times Literary Supplement, the author "not only indicates how medical historians can gain a better understanding of ancient disease in their historical contexts, but also why medicine in antiquity reveals far more than a narrowly boxed world of professional physicians plying their trade." Commending the work in Choice, W. D. Smith noted that Grmek's analysis is marked by "superb historical technique and judgment." Scarborough called Grmek's presentation "lucid, deft and assured," concluding that "Les maladies is a most important monograph, and medical historians should ponder its major points and collected evidence with great care."

In Histoire du SIDA, translated into English as History of AIDS: Emergence and Origin of a Modern Pandemic, Grmek turns his technical knowledge and investigative skills to the subject of AIDS. He provides an overview of the disease's virology and discusses controversy surrounding the discovery of the AIDS virus, which involved competing claims from researchers in the United States and France. In the second half of the book, Grmek traces the evolution of HIV-1 back to earlier retrovirus strains, suggesting that AIDS was likely in existence in the 1950s and that AIDS-causing retroviruses probably existed decades or even centuries earlier. In explaining the timing of the contemporary AIDS epidemic, Grmek cites changes in the social environment, notably increasing sexual liberation and homosexual promiscuity, as well as the growth of international travel, blood transfusions, and intravenous drug use.

Grmek's account was generally regarded as balanced and insightful, though several reviewers detected an element of moral judgment in his emphasis on the role of American homosexuals in the burgeoning pandemic. "It would be easy to dismiss Grmek's analysis as old-fashioned homophobia unsuccessfully masquerading as value-free medicine," remarked New Republic critic Thomas W. Laqueur. "A tone of moral revulsion does come through; he does seem to be saying that the transgression of 'certain rules for living' is causing AIDS; and he does subsume all gays under the category of a supposedly dangerous, deviant gay subculture. Much of this is objectionable," Laqueur added. "Still," he continued, "Grmek is making an important argument about how new patterns of human behavior create new pathways for pathogens." Along similar lines, New Statesman and Society reviewer Jeffrey Weeks noted, "When [Grmek] avoids lapsing into popular moralism the book is informative and useful." Laurie Garrett, writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, observed, "Even those who disagree with his conclusions will find Grmek's research compelling and his positions difficult to dispute." Noting that Grmek's account provides a useful European perspective on the history of AIDS, Science reviewer Elizabeth Fee called the book "important and provocative."

Grmek also served as editor of Western Medical Thought from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, a collection of essays by world-renowned scholars that focus on the development of Western medical theory and practice. Along with Grmek's own contribution, an essay on conceptual shifts in the understanding of disease, the collection examines the range and interaction of various medical traditions as Western medicine evolved in the ancient and medieval world. "At its best," wrote Mary Henninger-Voss in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, "the volume deals elegantly and clearly with a great deal of technical material, gives it cultural locus, and analyzes the success and failures of various medical writers in both epistemological and clinical terms." While noting the volume's heavy emphasis on intellectual rather than social history, Henninger-Voss concluded, "Grmek has assembled a unique overarching picture of pre-Renaissance medicine that will be invaluable to anyone interested in the early history of Western medicine."



Choice, May, 1989, W. D. Smith, review of Diseases in the Ancient Greek World, pp. 1508-1509.

Lancet, August 10, 1991, J. P. Vandenbroucke, review of History of AIDS: Emergence and Origin of a Modern Pandemic, p. 372.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 4, 1990, Laurie Garrett, review of History of AIDS, p. 7.

New Republic, July 8, 1991, Thomas W. Laqueur, review of History of AIDS, pp. 36-41.

New Statesman and Society, April 26, 1991, Jeffrey Weeks, review of History of AIDS, pp. 32, 34.

New York Times Book Review, September 19, 1993, review of History of AIDS, p. 40.

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, summer, 2000, Mary Henninger-Voss, review of Western Medical Thought from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, p. 620.

Science, April 19, 1991, Elizabeth Fee, review of History of AIDS, p. 453.

Times Literary Supplement, March 16, 1984, John Scarborough, review of Les maladies à l'aube de la civilisation occidentale: recherches sur la réalité pathologique dans le monde Grec préhistorique, archaïque, et classique, p. 284; January 5, 1990, Scarborough, review of Diseases in the Ancient Greek World, p. 22.



Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy, Volume 4, number 2, 2001, Henk A. M. J.ten Have, p. 123.*