Ivan Horbachevsky was one of the most famous scientists of his time in the field of chemical organic synthesis. Born into the family of a Greek Catholic priest in the Ternopil region, Horbachevsky spent most of his adult life outside Ukraine. During his time at the gymnasium in Ternopil (1864-1872), he became a member of the organization “Hromada,” one of the organizations anchoring the Ukrainian community, taking on leadership positions as well. He went on to study medicine in Vienna, Austria, where he demonstrated a particular aptitude for chemistry, which he would go on to teach after graduation. It was during this time that he met Mykhailo Drahomanov, the playwright and uncle of Lesya Ukrainka, one of Ukraine’s foremost writers. Due to his ground breaking research, he was offered a professorial post in Prague, where he established an entirely new field – medical chemistry.
Though living abroad in Vienna and later Prague, Horbachevsky maintained ties to his native land, helping to found the Shevchenko Scientific Society in Lviv in 1873. Over the course of his career he held a variety of posts in academia and in government, including head of the Medical Chemistry department and later dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the Charles University in Prague, Rector of Charles University in Prague, Member of the Sanitation Council of the Czech Kingdom, and the first Minister of Health in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1917, a post that due to geopolitical circumstances he held only until 1918.In 1914, Horbachevsky helped found a committee to help Ukrainian refugees from Galicia fleeing the onset of World War I, aimed at community organizing, education, and aiding the Ukrainian Sich Rifleman. In 1921, Horbachevsky returned to Prague, where he helped found the Ukrainian Free University, which at that time was the only Ukrainian university in the world. He served as rector of the university in 1923-23 and 1931-35, also teaching organic and inorganic chemistry there. Horbachevsky played a crucial role in the founding the Museum of the Ukrainian Independence Movement (1925-1948), created by a group of professors from the Ukrainian Free University in Prague. The museum collected documents from Prague and other countries about the military, camp life, the archives of the Union for Liberating Ukraine, political and diplomatic materials, emigration, the arts, student life and the Sich Riflemen. In 1939, Horbachevsky also spearheaded efforts to organize a Committee for the Defense of Carpatho-Ukraine, a territory which is now Transcarpathia in Ukraine and declared independence from Czechoslovakia in 1939. He succumbed to a long-time illness in 1942, a process accelerated by wartime privation.
- Zbarazh, Ukraine
Date of death
Author(s) of this page
- Kulick, Orysia Maria