Department of Histology and Embryology

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The Department of Histology and Embryology was established in 1923 at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lithuania in Kaunas. The first head of the department was Eber Landau, a professor at the University of Bern in Switzerland. Professor E. Landau worked at the department until 1932. In 1934, another professor from abroad, Vera Dantschakoff was invited to head the department. Professor V. Dantschakoff came from Columbia University (USA, New York State) and headed the department until 1937. From 1939 to 1971, the department was headed by professor Blažiejus Abraitis, from 1971 to 1994 – Professor Albertas Vitkus, from 1994 to 2003 – Associate Professor Kęstutis Baltrušaitis, from 2003 to 2017 Professor Angelija Valančiūtė. In 2017, Professor Ingrida Balnytė started to head the department.

The Department of Histology and Embryology has three microscopy laboratories for students. During practical work, each student uses an Olympus binocular microscope and a large collection of histological preparations. For educational purposes, each laboratory is equipped with imaging equipment that allows interactive study and analysis of microscopic images of material.

More than 100 exhibits are accumulated in the Embryology Museum of the Department. These are aborted embryos at various stages of development, as well as embryos with various developmental disorders. In addition, the museum has preserved a collection of old microscopes that were used by students at different times.


The Department of Histology and Embryology teaches the subject of Human Histology and Embryology to first-year students of the Faculty of Medicine, as well as to second- and third-year students in the integrated modules of medical studies: “Fundamentals of Preclinical Studies and Movement”, “Metabolism and Homeostasis”, “Respiration and Blood Circulation”, “Fundamentals of Neurosciences”, “Human Reproductive Health and Fundamentals of Clinical Studies”, “Immune Response and Infection”. The Department of Histology and Embryology is responsible for the “Reproduction and Inheritance” part of the Human Reproductive Health and Fundamentals of Clinical Studies module.

The department also teaches:

  • Human histology and embryology subject for first- and second-year students of the Faculty of Odontology,
  • Histology for students majoring in Medical and Veterinary Genetics and Medical and Veterinary Biochemistry,
  • Embryology and developmental genetics – for students of medical and veterinary genetics;
  • Histology is taught to Health Psychology students,
  • Embryology and Embryo Development – for Midwifery Students.

The professors of the department teach in elective courses, supervise students’ scientific works and participate in doctoral studies.

The most important directions of scientific research carried out by the employees of the Histology and Embryology Department are: 1. Direction of scientific research in experimental oncology, using two models: a. A chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) model for studying tumour-induced neoangiogenesis, tumour cell invasion and proliferation; b. A model of spontaneous tumours after urethane injections in the lungs of Balb-C mice; 2. Age-related changes in the male and female reproductive systems.

CAM and spontaneous lung tumour models used for experimental studies are suitable for testing the effects of various drugs on tissues, elucidating their influence on angiogenesis, tumour cell proliferation and invasion. In the Department‘s newly established Live Tissue Research Laboratory, experimental research is carried out, forming tumours from cultured cells. Immunohistochemical, in vivo biomicroscopic, histomorphometric studies are performed at the department.

The lecturers of the Histology and Embryology Department are members of the Lithuanian Society of Morphologists, who actively participate in national and international scientific conferences, where they present the results of ongoing scientific research.

Histology and Embryology Department
Prof. dr. Ingrida Balnytė
Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
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