Docent Karel Černý, head of the Institute for the History of Medicine and Foreign Languages
I am from a medical family, my father, both sisters, and brother-in-law are all doctors. But in the early 1990s, I became enchanted by philosophy and history, because it felt that these areas respond to the new challenges of post-totalitarian society. I studied cultural history and expected to spend the rest of my life working in some museum or archive. By a lucky coincidence, though, I first found employment in Prague and then was successful in competing for a position at the Institute for the History of Medicine and Foreign Languages. As a historian, I realise daily what a privilege it is to work at a faculty whose history reaches back to the High Middle Ages: in the vault of our institute is the oldest of the faculty’s books, a manuscript from 1474, on a shelf in the reading room stands the oldest faculty journal (Vierteljahrschrift für die praktische Heilkunde) from the first half of the nineteenth century, and the walls of many buildings feature portraits of former deans, some from the eighteenth century. I have deep respect for the work of physicians who daily save human health and often even lives. We, historians, save only stories. So my aim is at least to try to make sure that these stories are to the benefit of medicine, according to the ancient motto primum nil nocere.