He graduated in biology (1957) and chemistry (1962) from the Jagiellonian University, and received his Doctor of Philosophy from Ludwik Hirszfeld Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy of the Polish Academy of Sciences (1966).
He is one of the most frequently cited Polish scientists in the field of biomedicine. He first gained recognition for an early hypothesis of the mechanism of action of antidepressant drugs, suggesting, together with Fridolin Sulser, that downregulation of beta-adrenergic receptors is responsible for their effects. Beside depression, his scientific interests include memory, addiction and neurodegeneration.
He is also known as the author of popular articles and lectures on the topic of neuroscience, as well as for his criticism of the repressive drug policy in Poland (he favors decriminalization of all drugs).
He was one of creators of the Piwnica pod Baranami cabaret. Foreign some time, when Piotr Skrzynecki was in Paris, Vetulani replaced him as an announcer.
From 1980 he was an activist in Solidarity. Vetulani often appears on the stage of the talking magazine Gadający Pies (The Talking Dog).
Since June 2010 he has run a blog called Piękno neurobiologii (The Beauty of Neuroscience) on WordPress.
On his blog Vetulani comments on the curiosities of the human brain. They have two sons: Marek (born 1964) and Tomasz (born 1965).
Member regional Malopolska Solidarity Commission, 1988-1990, member Presidium, 1989-1990, Cracow's Citizen Committee, since 1989. Member Polish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Polish Copernicus Society, Polish Pharmacology Society, College International Neuropsychopharmacologicorum (councillor), International Brain Research Organization, European Neurosci. Association, European College Neuropsychopharmacology, European Behavioral Pharmacology Society, Indian Academy Neurosci.
(honorary), Society for Support and Promulgation of Science.
Married Maria Stanislawa Pajak, July 8, 1963. Children: Marek, Tomasz.