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Anton Švajger, F.C.A.

Date of death:

  • 12/16/2003

Academic titles:

  • fellow of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
  • doctor of Science


  • Professor (retired) - Medical School, University of Zagreb

Membership in Academy:

  • full member - Department of Natural Sciences (05/18/2000 - 12/16/2003
  • associate member - Department of Natural Sciences (03/31/1980 - 05/18/2000)
  • Date and place of birth: 6th Jun 1935, Daruvar / Croatia
  • Education: primary school inDaruvar / Croatia (1942-1949); high school in Virovitica / Croatia (1949-1954); University of Zagreb, School of Medicine, Zagreb / Croatia (1954-1960); Ph.D. in biomedical sciences, University of Zagreb (1965); 6-month training in experimental embryology, Hubrecht Laboratory, Utrecht /The Netherlands (1968)
  • Employments: University of Zagreb, School of Medicine,Institute of Histology and Embryology, Zagreb / Croatia (continuously since January 1st, 1961); retired 30th September 2000
  • Scientific and educational professions: lecturer (1961), Ph.D. (1965), assistant professor (1969), associate professor (1975), professor (1980) of human histology and embryology

Membership and functions in scientific and professional societies

  • Croatian Society of Natural Sciences
  • Croatian Society of Bilogy
  • Croatian Society of Physiology
  • Croatian Society of Anatomists, Histologists and Embryologists (president, resp. vice-president for 2 mandatory periods, president of the Section of Embryology)
  • Croatian Medical Association (Section of Normal Morphology, Section of Arts)
  • European Developmental Biology Organization – EDBO (Board member)
  • International Society of Developmental Biologists – ISDB
  • Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
  • The New York Academy of Science
  • The European Science Foundation (ESF) – “Network in Developmental Biology” (Scientific Board member 1989-1992)
  • Croatian Catholic Medical Society (president since 1993)
  • Pontifical Academy for Life (corresponding member since 1998)


- State award “Ruđer Bošković” for renowned scientific achievements (1988)

Research field and achievements

(The number in brackets refer to Bibliography – Scientific texts - Articles)

Developmental biology of mammals

Experimental embryology at early postimplantation stages

  • A microsurgical method for separation of germ layers in rat and mouse embryos at the gastrulation stage was developed (3, 12, 26).
  • By using the method of isotransplantation of separated germ layers of the rat embryo under the kidney capsule it was demonstrated that all embryonic organs originate from the epiblast of primitive ectoderm (5, 6, 8, 15, 22, 26).
  • The regional developmental specificity of the embryonic ectoderm during gastrulation was established (9, 14, 15, 22, 26).
  • By continuous tracing of morphogenesis of the isolated ectoderm as isograft or in vitro explant, the mechanism of development of experimental embryonic teratomas was investigated (7, 13, 17, 19, 26).

Developmental mechanisms in the tail bud

  • The mechanism of the secondary (direct) development of axial structures (neural tube, notochord, tail gut) at the caudal end (tail bud) of the rat embryo has been interpreted as the aggregation of cells from a mesenchyme-like mass (20, 24, 27, 31).

Origin of ocular lens cells by transdifferentiation (metaplasia)

  • In experimental embryonic teratomas obtained in homografts or in vitro explants of gastrulating rat embryos, as well as in isografts of lentectomized eyeballs of rat fetuses, atypical ocular lens cells (lentoids) were found and their origin by transdifferentiation (metaplasia) of the retinal pigmented epithelium was demonstrated (23, 25, 28, 30).

Differentiation and regeneration of the elastic cartilage

  • During the histogenesis of the elastic (secondary, adipose) cartilage in the external ear of the rat (10, 18, 29) a reverse sequence of appearance of collagen and elastic fibers occurs (4, 21, 29); the characteristic phenotype of the cartilage is stable in different developmental environments (29); during regeneration, however, there is a switch of phenotype toward he structure of the typical human cartilage (29).

Other subjects

  • Brown adipose tissue differentiation from the isolated rat embryonic mesoderm grafted under the kidney capsule (15).
  • Modulations of the chick chorionic epithelium bearing embryonic grafts (2).
  • Pre-elastic (oxytalan) fibers in the developing elastic cartilage (11, 16, 29) and some other animal and human tissues.
  • Structural changes of the notochord in human embryos and fetuses (32).
  • origin of the yolk sac carcinoma as a late event in experimental embryonic teratomas (33, investigation in progress).

Other scientific and professional activities (Summary)

  • Scientific projects: 4 national and 1 international projects.
  • Publication editing: 4 national and 1 international journals, national Encyclopedia of Medicine, textbooks of histology and embryology, manual of medical ethics, other editions of the Zagreb University Medical School.
  • Invited lectures: 4 meetings in Europe, 10 institutes/universities in U.S.A. (1983), 2 laboratories in Tübingen/Germany (1984), University of Padua/Italy (1980).
  • Varia: Educational TV programme, popular science (lectures and writings), entries in the national Medical Lexicon, translation of textbooks and professional articles from foreign languages (German, French, English, Italian, Russian, Slovenian).

Educational activity

  • 40 years of teaching in human histology and embryology for graduate students of medicine and dentistry at the University of Zagreb Medical School, periodically at other medical schools in Croatia.
  • teaching(histology, cell and developmental biology) in postgraduate and continuous education courses (medicine, sciences).
  • theses advising: 17 undergraduate, 11 M.A., 6 Ph.D. theses.


  • botany, bird-watching, stargazing
  • drawing, watercolour painting
  • literature, philosophy, music