• Ante Škrobonja


This article on the occasion of the 111th birthday of professor Valter Rukavina (Rijeka, 1896-1972) recalls this extraordinary personality who is remembered by local and national history as an excellent physician, infectionist, university professor, equally successful scientist and practitioner, scholar and a polyglot, art lover, and last but not least, an extraordinary self-taught painter… He graduated from secondary school in Sušak and studied medicine in Innsbruck, Graz, Vienna and Prague, where he received diploma in general practice in 1921. He started his career in Zagreb, then moved to Vrbovsko, Križevci, Osijek, and Zlatar as district physician. Meanwhile, at the Institute of Epidemiology he specialised in bacteriology, epidemiology, serology, hygiene, and medical chemistry. He successfully organised anti-typhus campaigns and mass vaccinations against scarlet fever and diphtheria, and established local healthcare stations. After a brief stay in Zagreb, in WW2 he was transferred to Bosnia, returned to Zagreb, and since 1946 until his death he had lived in his native Rijeka, where he started an infectious diseases department that later grew into the School of Medicine clinic. Being a practitioner and a scientist, he was interested in all aspects of infectious diseases and contiguous areas, and made a major contribution with his systematic research and successful implementation of preventive measures and complete eradication of the great brucellosis epidemic that broke out in Istria after WW2. In addition to the membership in a number of professional associations, professor Rukavina was also an active member of the Rijeka chapter of the Croatian Association of Visual Artists.

Key words: History of medicine, infectology, epidemiology, 20th century, physicians, painters, Valter Rukavina, Croatia.