When King Casimir III the Great in 1364 established the University of Kraków, there were initially three faculties. The Faculty of Medicine included two types of professors: Professor of Medicine, or lector ordinarius in medicines, and presumably a Professor of Astronomy, who would lecture on astrology, which for a long time remained an inextricable part of medicine. All lectures took place in the Royal Castle on Wawel Hill.
King Władysław Jagiełło, using jewels donated by his wife, Queen Jadwiga, financed the restoration of the University in 1400. Stanisław of Skalbmierz, the first Rector of the University, stressed the importance of the Faculty of Medicine already in his inauguration speech. Soon after the restoration process, famous Polish and foreign scholars began to arrive at the University. Jan Kro of Chociebuż (Johannes Kro de Kostebus) was one of its first Professors, as well as the first physician to be chosen as Rector of the University, a position he assumed in 1419. Other notable scholars include Jan of Pawia (Johannes de Saccis de Pavia), who introduced the first statute of the Faculty of Medicine in 1433, Marcin Król of Żurawica, and Piotr Gaszowiec of Loćmierz, who, in addition to medicine, displayed great interest in astronomy and astrology.
At the time, each physician who practiced in Kraków, nationality notwithstanding, was obliged to teach as a lecturer of medicine, or lector in medicines. Owing to this fact, already in the 15th century, the teaching staff at the Faculty of Medicine numbered nearly 50 members!
One of the greatest personalities of the 16th century was undoubtedly Maciej of Miechów (1457-1523), a historian and physician; he served as Rector of the University for eight terms and is often called the Polish Hippocrates.Other eminent scholars include Wojciech Oczko (1537-1599), author of many meticulous works on balneology and syphili-dology; Sebastian Petrycy of Pilzno (1554-1626), a clinician, philanthropist, and renowned expert on Aristotle; and Józef Strus (1510-1568), a critic of Galen and author of Sphygmicae artis libri quinque (1555), a treatise on the human pulse, he went on to lecture in Padua.
The 17th and 18th centuries saw a decline in the University, marked mainly by external factors (e.g., the 1655-1660 Swedish invasions), which led to a decrease in the number of students. Those students who decided to stay in Kraków, especially medical students, oftentimes received an incomplete education and had to supplement their studies abroad, mainly in Italy, where they obtained doctoral degrees.
The second half of the 18th century saw the condition of the University improve dramatically when, in 1773, the Commission of National Education entrusted Hugo Kołłątaj with the task of reform, carried out from 1778 to 1780. This reform initiated a new period in the history of the Faculty of Medicine: Professor Andrzej Badurski (1740-1789) worked to establish a clinic, ultimately opened in 1780, and Rafał Józef Czerwiakowski (1743-1816) began to teach surgery and, as Professor of Anatomy, was one of the first to perform posthumous examinations in Poland. When Kraków was partitioned as part of the Austrian Empire in 1796, attempts were made at transforming the University into an Austrian institution through the introduction of foreign teachers. Not until 1809, when Kraków was partitioned as part of the Duchy of Warsaw, did the University regain its Polish identity.
The University entered into a period of prosperity when Kraków gained political independence in 1815-1846. The university owes its renown to such academics as Józef Brodowicz (1790-1885), Professor of Internal Diseases; Ludwik Bierkowski (1801-1860), Professor of Surgery; and Józef Majer (1808-1899) and Fryderyk Skobel (1806-1878), Professors of theoretical sciences. The 19th century saw a period of further prosperity at the Faculty of Medicine and University, owing to such outstanding scholars and physicians as Józef Dietl (1804-1878); Edward Korczyński (1844-1905); Walery Jaworski (1849-1924), in internal diseases; Jan Mikulicz Radecki (18501905); and Ludwik Rydygier (1850-1920) and Alfred Obaliński (1843-1898), in surgery.
The beginnings of stomatology date back to the 18th century. Already in 1779, Professor Rafał Czerwiakowski included dentistry as part of his university lectures for barbers-surgeons. From 1899, the completion of medical studies also required participation in dentistry lectures. Similar to ophthalmology, orthopedics, or laryngology, dentistry was at first considered a part of surgery, long remaining within this field. Formed at Jagiellonian University in 1902, Poland's first Chair of Dentistry continued the process of establishing dentistry as an independent discipline. This Chair was headed by Professor Wincenty Łepkowski (1866-1935). During World War II, medical studies were secretly organized and run by Professor Stanisław Madziarski. In 1950, all Faculties of Medicine in Poland were separated from their universities and transformed into independent institutions, called "academies of medicine".
Notable events during the functioning of the Nicolaus Copernicus Academy of Medicine (i.e., present-day Jagiellonian University Medical College) included the formation of new clinics (e.g., 3rd Clinic of Internal Diseases, 3rd Clinic of Surgery) as well as the Department of Dentistry at the Faculty of Medicine. Established in 1948, the Department of Dentistry grew to include four chairs in preventive dentistry, prosthadontics, dental surgery, and orthodontics. Each newly established department was located in old tenements or post-hospital buildings, as practically no new buildings were being built. Since 1950, the Faculty of Medicine at the Academy of Medicine educated a great number of students, filling deficits in the post-war health service and improving the health of the general population. All of its Chairs and Clinics made great strides in teaching and research, oftentimes gaining worldwide recognition.
In 1965, the Institute of Pediatrics, a technological and architectural wonder at the time, was built in Prokocim District. This facility was built thanks to support from the Polish-American community and American government. Located far outside of the old town, it was built in an area which was to also include a future campus and medical center. In the 1970s and 1980s, three student dormitories and a modern Medical Library were built in its immediate vicinity.
In September 2000, an Institute of Stomatology was formed. Located on ul. Montelupich (Montelupich Street), it is equipped to 21st century standards and is the site of research and educational activities.
In the interest of ensuring the highest quality of teaching, a Conference Center was put into use in 2006. This facility is meant to accommodate student needs and also serves as a venue for conferences and conventions.