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The below approved biography has been printed on December 2000, in Palm Beach, Florida, USA, by B ülent I. Kastarlak on the occasion of the 42 nd anniversary of Prof. A. Nabi Kastarlak's death and dedicated to his memory. (First edition: Istanbul, June 2000). It's electronic version is published in bilimtarihi.org thanks to the authorization of Bülent İ.Kastarlak

Prof. Dr. A. Nabi Kastarlak (1891-1958): Professor of Pharmacology and Therapy, 1933-1958
Istanbul University, Faculty of Medicine, Turkey

Biography by
The Late Prof. Dr. Ahmet C. Ekinci (1950-2000)
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Istanbul University, Turkey
Research by
B ülent İ. Kastarlak, Y. Müh. Mimar (Dıpl. Eng. Arch.), M. Arch., MCP, A I A, NCARB,
Palm Beach, Florıda, USA

This English translation of Prof. Dr. A. Nabi Kastarlak's biography
is prepared by B ülent İ. Kastarlak based on the Turkish original and is approved by Prof. Dr. Ahmet C. Ekinci

Introduction and Acknowledgement

Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak died at his house a cold March day in 1958. His casket was carried by hundreds of doctors and students he educated and, after services, was buried at his family plot in Zincirlikuyu Asri Mezarl ığı , Istanbul. More than forty years since his death, his memory and life's work still live among those doctors now praticing in three continents. His family has always considered it a proud duty to respond to inquiries and gestures of respect received and was searching for an appropriate way to pass his memory and work into posterity.

In 1991, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Ekinci contacted Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak's daughter Selmin Ceyhun living in Istanbul and proposed to write a biography of her father. Selmin Ceyhun received this kind offer warmly and notified her brother Dipl. Eng. Arch. Bülent Kastarlak then living in the USA. As a result of Prof. Dr. Ahmet Ekinci's initiative, a productive collaboration ensued and this small booklet was completed. We anticipate that the events and photographs contained in this booklet will clarify the professional life of Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak. We hope that they will also bring clarity to Turkish medical history, particularly to the period of 1923-1958. All personal information were based on Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak's notes by his own hand, on the research conducted and events witnessed by his son B ülent Kastarlak and his daughter Selmin Ceyhun. His wife M ü rvet died in early 1991 and was unable to contribute.

With this biography, we are remembering the work and person of Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak as one of the doctors and teachers who brought the science of modern pharmacology and theraphy to Turkey and introduced it to the country through thousands of Turkısh doctors he educated. Among the people who shared the duties of collecting information and presenting it for this booklet, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Ekinci is gratefully acknowledged as the foremost contributor. He recognised the work of Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak and its contribution to the modern medical science of Turkey. He appreciated his care giving importance as a model for future generations of Turkish doctors and volunteered to write his biography. In recent years, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Ekinci took the pharmacology seminars held at Istanbul and Erciyes Universities as occasions to commemorate Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak. Our gratitude to him is boundless.

The surviving members of Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak's immediate family were able to assist Prof. Ahmet Ekinci in his project. Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak's daughter Selmin Ceyhun until her death in 1998, his son Bülent Kastarlak, his grand daughter Canan Ceyhun, and grandson Metin (Todd) Nabi Kastarlak assisted by selecting family phographs, collecting information, doing word processing, designing the graphics with computer, and editing the booklet. We gratefully acknowledge their contribution to this family project.

Universite de Geneve, Faculte de Medecine,
was very generous to provide us with a copy of Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak's thesis completed in 1919. We gratefully acknowledge their important contribution and express our warmest thanks to the staff of the faculty.
Our heart felt gratitude goes to everyone who made the distribution of this booklet to medical institutions, doctors and friends throught out America, Europe and Turkey possible.

For the Kastarlak family Bülent I. Kastarlak

Prof. Dr. Ahmet Nabi Kastarlak (1891-1958)

Dr. Ahmet Nabi (Kastarlak) was born to Turkish parents in Pleven (Plevne), northern Bulgaria, on November 20, 1891. His father was İbrahim and mother was Zehra. His family name was locally known as Kastarlakoff. Not much is known about the early childhood of Ahmet Nabi in Pleven. It is known that he completed his elementary school education in Pleven. In 1903 (1319 Hijri year), when he was 12 years old, he won a scholarship for completing his high school education at Darüşşafaka in Istanbul. Darüşşafaka was one of the progressive schools of its time. Ahmet Nabi was a good student and received high grades. But, he resisted toward perceived acts of injustice. It is known that his father İbrahim encouraged his son to excel and to receive the education that he did not have.

Ahmet Nabi graduated from Darüşşafaka in 1910. The same year, he applied to and was accepted by Haydarpaşa Faculty of Medicine in Istanbul. During his first year he lived in a rooming house close to school at Yeldeğirmeni district of Kadiköy on the Asian side of Istanbul. He was 20 years old and alone. His family was still in Pleven. Ahmet Nabi successfully completed his first year studies in basic physics, chemistry, biology (PCN) and was promoted to second year.

After successfully completing his first year in Istanbul, Ahmet Nabi decided to continue his medical education in Europe. He applied to one of the best medical schools in Europe, Montpellier Faculty of Medicine in France, and was accepted. In 1911 there was no bi-lateral education agreement between France and Ottoman Empire. Ahmed Nabi was required to repeat his basic physics, chemistry, biology courses. At the end of his PCN year he received excellent grades and became eligible to take his first doctorate examinations. He passed his examinations successfully.

World War I caused a sharp turn in Ahmet Nabi's medical education. He was a Bulgarian citizen and, as such, was not allowed to stay in France. Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria were allies with Germany against France and its allies. In 1915 he was deported from France. Ahmet Nabi decided to go to neutral Switzerland and was accepted by University of Geneva, Faculty of Medicine. He completed the rest of his medical education in Geneva. In July 13, 1917 he successfully passed his second doctorate examinations. He then proceeded to write his doctoral thesis. The title of his thesis was "Des Causes d'Erreur du Cyto-Diagnostic des Epanchement des Sereuses". His thesis and defense was accepted and Ahmet Nabi received his "Docteur En Medicine" title and diploma (No.1154) on July 2, 1919. Dr. Ahmet Nabi dedicated his thesis to his parents. He was the second Turkish doctor, after Dr. Akil Muhtar (Özden), to graduate from University of Geneva, Faculty of Medicine.

During 1918 and 1919, Dr. Ahmet Nabi continued with his medical studies at the "Hôpital Cantonal de Genève". He was appointed Assistant to Prof. Dr. Mayor at his "Clinique Therapeutic". He established lasting friendships with his compatriot Turkish physicians who were also studying medicine in Geneva. They included surgeon Prof. Dr. Fahri Arel, ophtalmologist Dr. Hakki Hayri (Ayrı), and Dr. Şükrü Saracoğlu who became a Prime Minister of Turkey in later years. After returning to Turkey, these young doctors played important roles in the formation of the new republic and its medical institutions.

We learn from Prof. Dr. Kummer's reference letter of August 31, 1922 that Dr. Ahmet Nabi served as "Assistant Externe" at the surgery clinic of "Hôpital Cantonal de Genève" between May 20, 1918 and June 9, 1918. He also substituted for "Assistant Interne" position during the same period. We also learn from Prof. Dr. Mayor's reference letter of August 31, 1922 that Dr. Ahmet Nabi served as "Assistant Interne" between January 25, 1920 and August 1922 at the hospital. It is noted on the letter that Prof. Dr. Mayor recommended Dr. Ahmet Nabi highly.

As the reference letters indicate, Dr. Ahmet Nabi served at Prof. Dr. Mayor's "Clinique Therapeutic" from 1919 first as an "Externe", then as an "Interne". He was the second Turkish doctor to be so appointed in the hospital. In his later years as a professor of medicine teaching in a major Turkish clinic, his experience in Geneva served him well.

In 1922, Dr. Ahmet Nabi's father Ibrahim reminded him that, after eleven years in Europe, it was time to return back to Turkey. Dr. Ahmet Nabi returned to Istanbul on August 31, 1922. He was thirty one years old. Turkey was still fighting for its existence as a sovereign country. The War of Independence was winding down in Anadolu. But, Istanbul was under foreign occupation. On September 9, 1922, İzmir and the Agean region were freed from the enemy forces. After arriving in Istanbul about this time, Dr. Ahmet Nabi volunteered to join the 11th Red Crescent Emergency Medical Care Unit. Headed by Prof. Dr. Kara Kemal, the unit left Istanbul discreetly and arrived in İzmir in a few days. Dr. Ahmet Nabi was assigned to the state hospital and dispensary in Alaşehir as its Director. Shortly after his assignment, he contracted a severe case of malaria and was forced to return to Istanbul on December 22, 1922, to recuperate.

When he joined the 11th Red Crescent Emergency Medical Care Unit, Dr. Ahmet Nabi was holding a Bulgarian citizenship. After returning to Istanbul, he applied to Istanbul Registry of Population for admission into Turkish citizenship with an application dated May 23, 1923 (No : 4055). He was admitted the next day, May 24, 1923, and was given his Certicate of Citizenship by Bakirköy Registry of Population.

Around this date, Dr. Ahmet Nabi's father İbrahim arrived from Pleven to Istanbul to assist his son in starting his new life in Turkey. Together, they rented an apartment in the Bakirköy suburb of Istanbul.
Dr. Ahmet Nabi decided to enter into academic career and join the Faculty of Medicine of Istanbul University. He collected all his diplomas, certificates, reference letters from France and Switzerland and went to see Prof. Dr. Akil Muhtar (Özden) who had become the head of Pharmacodinamy and Therapy Clinic at Haseki Hospital upon his return to Turkey from Switzerland. Despite the fact that both had studied in the same university, under the tutelage of the same professors and received their diplomas and certificates from the same hospital, Prof. Dr. Akil Muhtar rejected the application of Dr. Ahmet Nabi. After spending long years in Europe and receiving the best medical education of his time, qualifying as a member of faculty was a reasonable expectation for Dr. Ahmet Nabi. Failing to do so was a very big disappointment for him. He, nevertheless, persevered.

During these early months of 1923 another important event took place in the life of Dr. Ahmet Nabi. A former immigrant from Bulgaria himself, the owner of well known Meserret Hotel in Babiali Caddesi section of Istanbul, Mustafa introduced Dr. Ahmet Nabi to another immigrant, İbrahim Etem (Aydin), who started his own hotel business around the corner at HocapaşaCamii Sokak. Through İbrahim Etem, Dr. Ahmet Nabi met his daughter Mürvet. After receiving his father İbrahim's blessing, they were married in Bak ırköy , Istanbul on July 5, 1923 after a short courtship.

Dr. Ahmet Nabi passed the government examination and earned his license for practicing as a medical doctor within the Istanbul Municipal Health Department system. With his father İbrahim's financial help, he opened his first medical office in Bakirköy. Soon after, he relocated his practice to BabialiCaddesi across from the offices of the Governor of Istanbul. He continued to practice medicine there until March 14, 1925. But, he was unable to support his wife and himself with income from his private practice. He was forced to seek a salaried position. He found one as a Specialist of Internal Medicine at Sinop State Hospital. But, he was alone in Sinop and managed to stay in this position from March 23, 1925 until May 1, 1925. He, then, resigned and returned to Istanbul.

From June 10, 1925 to December 9, 1925, Dr. Ahmet Nabi worked at Istanbul Municipal Dispensary and from December 10, 1925 to November 16, 1933, he practiced at Kadıköy Municipal Dispensary. This period of Dr. Ahmet Nabi's life is full of attempts for establishing a satisfying professional career and a happy family life.

The difficulties he encountered in adapting to his new life after returning from Switzerland, his failure to join Faculty of Medicine the first time, and changing his jobs frequently, left indelible marks in the mind of Dr. Ahmet Nabi. He found solace and peace of mind in his happy family life. His marriage to Mürvet was blessed with the birth of a daughter (Selmin) on August 1, 1925 and a son (Bülent) on May 10, 1932.

On April 9 1932 Dr. Ahmet Nabi received his certification as "Specialist First Class in Internal Medicine". While continuing his job at Kadıköy Dispensary, he met retired veteran officer of the War of Independence Tevfik (Bıyıklıoğlu). This event turned out to be a pivotal point in his career. His patient Tevfik was the private secretary of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first President and founder of the Republic of Turkey. During his conversations Tevfik bey learned how Dr. Ahmet Nabi's application to Istanbul Faculty of Medicine was rejected. Tevfik bey presented the information to Minister of Education of the time (most likely Dr. Raşit Galip). It is also likely that Prof. Dr. Malche, who was then invited from Switzerland by the Ministry of Education to assist in the organization of the new Istanbul University, was consulted. As a result of the investigation, Dr. Ahmet Nabi was appointed by the Ministry to Istanbul University, Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacodinamy and Therapy Clinic at Haseki Hospital as "Docent" with a base salary of 55 TL. He started to work in his new position on November 19, 1933. Throughout the remainder of his life, Dr. Ahmet Nabi has repeatedly expressed his gratitude and respect for Tevfik Bıyıklıoğlu for his assistance.

Following his appointment as a "Doçent" to Istanbul University, Dr. Ahmet Nabi was required to pass an examination according to provisional rules governing his appointment. The examination took place in the presence of a jury of his peers, including Prof. Dr. Akil Muhtar (Özden), Dr. Neşet Ömer İrdelp, Dr. Erich Frank, Dr. Liepschitz and Dr. Nurettin Kamil İrdelp and was concerned with practical and theoretical medical questions. We learn from an affidavit dated February 10, 1937, that Dr. Ahmet Nabi Kastarlakoğlu was found by the jury of his peers to be competent and eligible to perfom his duties as a "Doçent". In support of his examination, Dr. Ahmet Nabi Kastarlakoğlu prepared a 29 page research paper about "Digilanide".

During World War II, Doçent Dr. Ahmet Nabi Kastarlakoğlu was called twice to serve in the Medical Corps of Turkish Army with the rank of Captain. During his first call he served at Kükürtlü Military Hospital in Bursa. During his second call he served at Military Hospital in Kırklareli.

On November 30, 1940, Ord. Prof. Dr. Akil Muhtar Özden sent the following document to the Dean of Faculty of Medicine: "My Docent Dr. Nabi Kastarlak has completed his seventh year. Among his associates, his excellent education, serious professionalism, large knowledge, scientific and methodical work qualifies him to the title of Professor. Thank you for making me aware of this matter."

An evaluation report prepared by a jury composed of Dr. Akil Muhtar Özden, Dr. Neşet Ömer İrdelp, Dr. Erich Frank, Dr. Hayrullah Diker, Dr. Muzaffer Esad Güçhan recommended the elevation of Doçent Dr. Ahmet Nabi Kastarlak to the rank of Professor. The recommendation was approved by a large majority of the members of Council of Faculty of Medicine on its December 19, 1940 meeting and became effective on that date.
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Nabi's family was known in Bulgaria as Kastarlakoff (Kastarlakzade), a family name which he used while studying in Europe. With the passing of family name law in Turkey, he first adopted Kastarlakoğlu as his family name. In 1940 he applied to Kadıköy Registry of Population for a family name correction and finally adopted Kastarlak as his family name.

Prof. Dr. Ahmet Nabi Kastarlak has continued with his medical career as a teaching staff at Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine and as a Specialist of Internal Medicine at his private office in Cağaloğlu district of Istanbul opposite from the mosque. He occasionally received patients in his office at his home in Sokullu Sokak No. 2, Kadıköy. He continued to receive patients in his Cağaloğlu office until his death in 1958. His office consisted of one private room and a waiting room shared by his patients and the patients of a dentist across the hall. His corner office overlooking the Cağaloğlu Square was furnished, according to the medical customs of the day, by a mahogany desk and chair, two comfortable arm chairs for his patients, a bench for examination, a glass display case for his medical instruments, a scale, a light-box for X-Ray films. The rooms were heated by ceramic two wood stoves. He was assisted by a receptionist who welcomed walk-in patients as well as patients with an appointment. He declined to move his private office at a more prestigious and upscale district of Istanbul like Taksim and Şişli. Unlike some of his colleagues, he refused to buy a car and learn to drive or to be driven by a chauffeur. His modesty was extreme. According to private records, in 1948, he was charging 5 TL to his patients for an office visit .

In 1950, Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak suffered a serious case of pleurisy complicated with asthma and a suspected heart ailment. His colleague Prof. Dr. Suphi Artunkal, who was one of his early intern-assistants at the Haseki Hospital clinic and who used to live in nearby Moda, attended to him regularly at his Kadiköy home. He recuperated in June 1950 and assumed his duties. Despite all the good care given to him, he aged rapidly. When his only son departed for the USA in September 1956 for pursuing advanced studies abroad, he began to loose interest in his life. He felt that his life's work was done. That he had accomplished what he had set out to do fifty five years earlier when he left Pleven at the age of twelve.

On February 3, 1958, he was staying at home suffering from a mild cold. As before, he relied on his own judgment and injected himself with a dose of penicillin. Shortly after, he sat down to have his lunch with his wife and daughter. He suffered a sudden seizure and died on the spot. His cause of death was reported as "Coronary Thrombosis". His funeral was attended by hundreds of persons many of whom were his past and present students. After ceremonies at Kadik ö y mosque his funeral was taken to Istanbul. He rests on the Kastarlak family plot at Mecidiyek ö y , Zincirlikuyu Cemetery in Istanbul where he was later joined by his wife M ü rvet (1991) and his daughter Selmin (1998).

It is generally accepted that Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak ıs one of the early Turkish doctors who brought the modern science of pharmacology and therapy to Turkey and trained thousands of young Turkish doctors. Today, he is revered as one the foremost authorities of modern medicine who made his mark in the early years of the Republic of Turkey. His major contribution to Turkey's medical heritage has been to introduce the modern science of pharmacology and therapy to Turkey through the thousands of doctors he trained.

The best accolade for Prof. Dr. Ahmet Nabi Kastarlak comes, appropriately, from the letter of recommendation written by Ord. Prof. Dr. Akil Muhtar Özden in 1940. In that letter he is acknowledged as having had an excellent medical education, and being a serious, knowledgeable, methodical and scientific professional. We learn from his colleagues and students still living today that he was a hard working, serious, capable doctor and teacher, an honest, modest and kind individual and a good family man.

The historic place occupied by Pharmacodinamy and Therapy Clinic at Haseki Hospital, one of the teaching hospitals of Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine, in the history of modern Turkish medicine owes its preeminence to a large degree to Ord. Prof. Akil Muhtar Özden, Prof. Dr. Necmettin Rıfat Yarar, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Nabi Kastarlak and to the efforts of many years of his close associates at the clinic, Ord. Prof. Dr. Sedat Tavat, Prof. Dr. Reşat Garan, and Prof. Dr. Suphi Artunkal. We remember them all respectfully.

Today, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Nabi Kastarlak is remembered as an examplary individual and a teacher of teachers in the annals of Turkish medicine.

The research publications of Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak are shown on the attached list. His known research is comprised of 16 medical papers and books and cover the important subjects of the day (Please see the attached list, "Known Work and Publications")

The original of the thesis prepared and presented by Prof. Dr. Nabi Kastarlak in 1919, "Des Causes d'Erreur du Cyto-Diagnostic des Epanchements des Cereuses, is preserved in the archives of Geneva University, Faculty of Medicine. Several copies are preserved in Turkey by his family ( Please contact Bulent I Kastarlak for copies of the thesis) .


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