Matei Balș

This edition of the IMSCB is unique not only because this is the first medical students’ congress in Romania which will happen exclusively online, but also because we are dedicating its activities to an important personality who found a cure to a disease which has damaged Romania and Europe during the last century: Matei Balș.

In a grey world full of wars, Matei Balș eased the fear of the soldiers who were fighting in the Second World War by bringing the antidote to typhoid fever: nitrofuran.

Matei Balș was born in Bucharest on the 6th of January 1905 into the boyar Balș family. Being born in a noble family who was descending from the important Romanian ruler Constantin Brâncoveanu, he was able to pursue a medical career by attending the courses of the Medical Faculty of Bucharest University from 1930. He did not stop there though, he continued to study by getting a bacteriology internship at the well known Pasteur Institute in Paris. The story of the scientist starts in 1941 when he takes charge of the adult contagious ward at the Colentina Hospital where he worked together with another important Romanian scientist: Ioan Cantacuzino.

In the war with the Soviet Union in 1942, Matei Balș was deeply involved in the wellbeing of the Romanian army by managing a hospital on the Eastern Front.

These rough times didn’t stop the scientist from evolving and becoming the pioneer of bacteriology in Romania. He became a full time professor at Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy, teaching the new generations his latest discoveries about the use of antibiotics in treating bacterial infections. Moreover, his legacy consists of 350 research papers written in Romania and 35 research papers written abroad including: “Introduction in the Study of Infectious Pathology”(1958); “Antibiotics” (1966), “Therapy of Infection (1975), “Clinical Laboratory of Infections” (1982).

In 1942, he was decorated with the “Queen Maria” Cross, and for the discovery of nitrofuran and its application in typhoid fever, in 1950 he was awarded the First Class State Prize.

For his scientific contributions he was elected a full member of the Academy of Medicine, but also of the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Society of Microbiology, a member of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in London, a member of the Society of Clinical Pathology in Berlin.

As every scientist and doctor, he put emphasis on the fact that science is an expansive subject which has a lot of mysteries.

Today, Matei Balș is considered to be the pioneer in treating contagious diseases not only in Romania, but also worldwide, hence the hospital for infectious diseases in Bucharest is named Matei Balș as a tribute for the legacy he left behind in this field. As he shone a light upon treating people during some of the toughest times in the recent history, we, the IMSCB team, bring awareness during this pandemic by sharing knowledge and by training the next generation of doctors to be well prepared in any situation.