István Apáthy, also known as Stephan Apáthy (1863–1922), was a Hungarian zoologist and histologist.
István Apáthy received his doctor’s degree in 1885 from the University of Budapest.
István Apáthy(1863–1922), Hungarian zoologist and histologist.
Apathy attended high school in Budapest and then studied medicine at the university. As a student he worked from 1883 to 1884 at the Institute of Pathology, where his interest in histology was awakened; in 1884 he published a paper dealing with the microscopic anatomy of naiades. He received his doctor’s degree in 1885 from the University of Budapest.
After obtaining his doctor’s degree in 1885, Stephan Apáthy became assistant to Theodor Margô at the Institute of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy in Budapest, where he improved his knowledge of histology.
From 1886 to 1889 Apathy had a scholarship to the marine biological laboratory in Naples, where he worked under Anton Dohm. During this period he published seventeen papers and traveled in several European countries. In 1890 he was appointed professor of zoology, and a few years later became professor of histology and embryology at Kolozsvâr in Transylvania (now Cluj, Rumania), where he established a modem institute that became a famous international histological research center. In 1895 Apathy was elected a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and in 1905 he was appointed an honorary foreign member of the Royal Medicinal Academy of Belgium.
Unfortunately, after World War I he devoted more time to politics than to science. When Transylvania became part of Rumania, the government of the newly created Hungarian Republic appointed Apáthy as government commissioner of Transylvanian affairs to the Rumanian National Committee in Sibiu because of his progressive ideas and scientific reputation. He was, as a commissioner and representative spokesman of a defeated country, imprisoned by the Rumanians in Sibiu, but they, respecting his scientific reputation and patriotism, set him free again. He was even allowed to take all of his research material, collections, microscopes, and such.
Apáthy returned to Hungary as professor of zoology at Szeged University, where he founded another modern institute. His health was impaired, however, and he died on September 27, 1922 (aged 59) in Szeged, Hungary.
From his youth Apathy had opposed the official policies of Vienna and Budapest. After World War I he devoted more time to politics than to science. When Transylvania became part of Rumania, the government of the newly created Hungarian Republic appointed Apáthy as government commissioner of Transylvanian affairs to the Rumanian National Committee in Sibiu because of his progressive ideas.
Apáthy considered the neurofibrils to be a connected system, forming an intimate unity with the various tissues penetrated by them. Consequently, he advanced the assumption of the continuity of neurofibrils in the whole animal body. To this idea Apáthy applied all his interpretations, and his further scientific work was given over, for the most part, to the proof and the polemic defense of his view.
He published a series of papers opposing the views of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Joseph Gerlach, Wilhelm Waldeyer, and others, in which he perseverantly tried to prove that the neurons are not merely apposed to each other and that the nervous irritation from one individual neuron to the other is not realized through its transfer per contiguitatem, but that the whole nervous system is connected continuously by means of reticularly arranged neurofibrils. Unfortunately he extended his observations, made on invertebrate nervous systems with a specific microscopic feature and function, to the whole class of vertebrates, thus leaving his hypothesis open to attack.