Gustav Janeček
(1848 – 1929)

Robert Jean-Ivanović: Gustav Janeček, plaster cast, Zagreb, around 1924., HMMF-335

Gustav Janeček

Gustav Janeček, pharmacist and chemist (Konopiště, 30th November 1848 – Zagreb, 8th September 1929). After graduating from Gymnasium in Pilsen, in 1864, he went to pharmacy practice in Nepomuk and after completing his tyrocinial exam in Pilsen in 1867, he was summoned to Prague where he worked as a pharmacist assistant to J. Dittrich. He finished pharmacy studies in Prague in 1871, passed the maturity exam in Gymnasium in Pilsen in 1873, and in 1875 he completed his studies of chemistry at the Charles University with the thesis Über die Elektrolyse des Wassers und das elektrolytisches Gesetz Faradays. Since 1875 he has been an assistant at the University in Vienna and a listener at the Faculty of Medicine. From 1877 he was an assistant professor (for Judicial and Ordinary Chemistry) at the Technical School and soon a court chemist at the National Court. In 1879 he was elected as an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Zagreb, where he became a regular professor in 1881. From 1879 to 1924 he was the head of Department of chemistry at the Faculty of humanities and in 1908/09. a rector of the University. He was the founder of modern chemistry and pharmacy in Croatia.

He is credited for organisation of chemistry studies according to the standards of European universities and for building and arranging two chemistry institutes (in 1884 on Strossmayer and in 1919 on Marulić square). One of the founders of forensic chemistry in Croatia, he introduced lectures in physical chemistry.  With V. Dvořák and B. Jiruš he founded the University Pharmacy Course (from which later the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry developed), where he was the first professor of pharmaceutical chemistry. He participated in the creation of pharmacopoeia, and in cooperation with J. Domac on the second issue of the Hrvatsko-slavonski ljekopis (Zagreb 1901) he raised Croatian pharmacy to the world level. He started the trade and manufacturing of medicines by founding of the “Isis” (today Medika) in 1918 and the pharmaceutical factory “Kaštel” (today Pliva) in 1921.

His research work affected almost all areas of contemporary chemistry. In the Viennese period, he studied the homology of aliphatic compounds with A. Lieben, and with his arrival in Zagreb, he mostly dealt with inorganic, analytical, physical and forensic chemistry, especially water analysis, electrolysis and atomic weights. He translated his laboratory Rukovodnik from German to Croatian and wrote two university textbooks. Under the leadership of Janeček in 1886, the first doctorate in chemistry (V. Horvat) was created at the University of Zagreb. In 1893 he founded the Society for the decoration and beautification of Plitvice Lakes and the surrounding area. He was a member of JAZU since 1887, the head of Departement of Mathematical and Natural sciences from 1908 to 1917. and a president from 1921 to 1924. He was an associate member of the Czech Academy of Sciences and an honorary member of pharmacy companies in the Czech Republic and Poland.

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