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Fanfare and a Gavel Behind the Iron Curtain! A Window to the World Congress in 1963 From Ivan Rychlik

A window to the past

Nephrology has evolved immensely over the past six decades, and the World Congress of Nephrology (WCN) has adapted and grown in response.

What was the second edition of the WCN like? The ISN caught up with Professor Rychlik, Fellow of the ISN and vice president of the Czech Society of Nephrology, at WCN’23 to get a behind-the-scenes look at the history of the Second International Congress of Nephrology held in Prague in 1963.

Professor Jan Brod

Why Czechoslovakia for the 2nd WCN?

The recently founded ISN was eager to establish its truly international flavor.

Jan Brod, an eminent clinician, teacher and scientist and among the founders of academic nephrology, was keen to hold the congress in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where, at that time, no official nephrology subject was available to study at medical school.

Professor Jan Brod (standing) presenting a talk at the opening ceremony

How was the congress organized?

Professor Brod was well-connected, including within the Czechoslovakian government, which authorized the congress to take place. The Ministry of Health provided significant funds in support of the event. It was the first international congress to be held in the Eastern Bloc, behind the Iron Curtain.

1963 WCN in numbers

  • 899 delegates
  • 41 different nationalities
  • 1/5 were Americans visiting Europe for the first time!
  • 217 accepted abstracts from 520 entries

Congress program

Five main themes were covered:

  • Renal physiology
  • Chronic dialysis in transplantation
  • Renal diseases in pregnancy
  • Nephritis
  • Renal hypertension

Pre-congress courses were introduced at this congress – the theme was aldosterone.


A record produced for the congress and the gavel used to chair the sessions


Two songs were recorded – an official fanfare for the congress and a song with lyrics, “The March of the Nephrologists,” composed and played by musician nephrologists.

A special ISN gavel was used to start the congress sessions!

The ISN and the Czech Society today

Sixty years on, the driving force behind the congress – providing a platform for scientific exchange and education to advance equitable kidney care worldwide – is stronger than ever. The look and feel, however, are very different, bringing home how much the ISN has achieved over the last six decades alongside valuable partnerships with societies like the Czech Society.

Delegates at the Spotlight Stage at WCN’23 in Bangkok

The Czech Society celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and will hold its annual meeting in September. The ISN looks forward to continuing to work closely with them to improve accessible kidney care in Eastern Europe and globally.

Watch the full interview with Professor Ivan Rychlik:

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