The Velvet Revolution in 1989 has launched changes, which tackled all the universities in the Czech Republic. Such a transformation of the political system has kindled effort issuing in reconstruction of personnel as well as curriculum and organization itself.
Also the First Medical Faculty of Charles University in Prague participated in this process and right the first democratically elected dean prof. MUDr. Jiří Tichý, DrSc. has established the Institute for Human Studies in Medicine, which began to teach before prohibited issues. Among first topics medical psychology and psychotherapy guaranteed by MUDr. Radkin Honzák and PhDr. Jan Vymětal as well as medical ethics and anthropology guaranteed by Doc. MUDr. PhDr. Jan Payne, PhD. and PhDr. Jiří Němec has started to be taught; while PhDr. Jiří Němec was appointed the first director of the institute; after his getting severely sick another director was chosen: in 1992 Doc. MUDr. PhDr. Jan Payne, PhD. and in 1998 prof. PhDr. Jan Vymětal were charged. The former department of social medicine has been incorporated into the Institute for Human Studies in Medicine in 1991 while its conception was completely and radically rebuilt in order to rid it of communist remnants.
The mentioned activity did not depart from the zero point: there were both newer and older traditions evolved in Czech medicine, which could have been joined to. Among the older personalities there should be mentioned particularly in Slovenia born professor, Mihajlo Rostohar (1878-1966), who established the first laboratory of experimental psychology in Prague in 1911 and who introduced medical psychology into curriculum. Another one was the Russian refugee, associated professor Nikolaj Osipov (1877-1934) who launched teaching of psychoanalysis to the Czech students of medicine. Medical ethics has been taught in Prague since 1946 by the former pharmacologist professor Bohuslav Bouček (1886-1953) who was prompted to this activity by his personal experience with the misuse of medicine in the concentration camps where he was detained for almost the whole war.
The communist regime regrettably hampered many of those activities and stifled some of them at their sprouting. But the violent break brought about by the totalitarian rulers was not entire: already during that totalitarian time some of the mentioned topics were more or less legally developed while those who were later on establishing the Institute for Human Studies in Medicine took part in that dissident movement. For example PhDr. Jiří Němec translated many of clue texts into Czech and led various "flat" seminars focused on psychotherapy and philosophy at large; he was one of the first and foremost protagonists of the Czech cultural revival. Also Doc. MUDr. PhDr. Jan Payne, PhD. was active as a dissident and since 1986 led an unofficial seminar "Rafael" directly concerned with medical and health care ethics while this activity served as a source for the next official teaching of ethics on the medical faculty.
The new democracy allowed particularly free education and for this purpose basic text books treating all the mentioned fields were written and published either. Besides teaching of ethics, psychology, psychotherapy and social medicine particularly to medical students in all the years of the curriculum also some postgraduate courses for physicians are offered; naturally there is the aim to obtain doctor and tenure accreditation regarding mentioned topics.
At the same time an international cooperation has been established: employees of the Institute for Human Studies in Medicine visited many of the foreign universities and welcomed foreign scholars in Prague. A contract regarding cooperation on various topics between the Institute for Human Studies in Medicine and the prestigious Hastings Center concerned with research in medical ethics (actually the first such institute in the USA) and led by its founder professor Daniel Callahan has been established in 1993. Among its other activities nine international symposia in medical ethics were organized in Prague. Professor Daniel Callahan and professor Gert Walter Speierer from Regensburg (they both were appointed visiting professors of the faculty and serve to it as lecturers) invited scholars of the Institute for Human Studies in Medicine to participate in their notable research projects. Intensive cooperation was established also with other universities (Firenze, Frankfurt/M., Frankfurt/O., Göttingen, Graz, Nijmengen).
The nature of research activities is determined by the methodological variety of different disciplines. Some clinical studies proving effectiveness of psychotherapy were carried out and plenty significant philosophical texts including monographs were published both in Czech and foreign languages. A research Center for Bioethics with the aim to foster one part of the governmental scientific strategy qualified as the "Goals of Medicine: Quality of Life" was established and associated with the Institute for Human Studies in Medicine under responsibility of Doc. MUDr. PhDr. Jan Payne, PhD. . In the year 2001 we, the Institute for Medical Humanities together with the Psychiatric Clinic, have been awarded an accreditation for postgraduate education in psychotherapy while the process of another accreditation for postgraduate doctor program "psychology and behavioral sciences" is going on.
At present the Institute for Human Studies in Medicine is a stable and respectable part of the First Medical Faculty with the precisely assigned duties and good cooperating with other institutes or clinical wards. Openness to novelties and proneness to improvements leading to further development of the Institute for Human Studies in Medicine as well as of medical education at large is always dominating in all the activities.
Research aim with the name "Goals of medicine: quality of life" is concerned with the normative inquiry in the field of medicine which is in fact an investigation of the quality of life and health. The reasearch was successfully finished and defenced in 2004. Such an inquiry raises due to its normative nature a demand on a different heuristic approach. Ordinary empirical anchoring fails here: mere frequency of some phenomenon either of nature or of society that is does not afford an argument on behalf of 'ought' in that field. Therefore and with regard to the difficulty of such questioning a method rather different from that of natural sciences has been adopted and in accordance with it three groups of experts have been established.
1/ The group that pursues tendencies employs historical study and makes translation and interpretation of the texts regimina sanitatis arranged in the middle of Europe by prominent physicians of medieval time and alongside is concerned with various definitions of health in the modern era.
2/ The group that pursues motives employs social psychology and inquires into the intentional structures of various cohorts of patients and healthy persons while result gained through a complex test are calculated by modern mathematical tools and interpreted in the context of other fields.
3/ The group that pursues norms employs instruments of philosophy itself; there is necessary to notice here that the quality of life (eu zein) has always been the theme of the practical branch of philosophy and surprisingly those ancient results fit neatly with the modern empirical discoveries.
All the conclusions are published in Czech as well as international periodicals or books and are presented on the conferences of all the levels. The research as such is run form the Center for Bioethics of the Institute for Medical Humanities, First Medical Faculty, Charles University.