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Head: Assoc. Prof. Tanya Topuzova-Christova, PhD

Phone: (+359 2) 8167-213
E-mail: topouzova@biofac.uni-sofia.bg


The Department of Cytology, Histology and Embryology was founded in 1974. It arose from the Histology and Embryology Section of the Department of Zoology of Vertebrates. Branching as an independent structure was made to meet the needs of advanced teaching and training of specialists in the subjects Cytology, Histology and Embryology. Even before the official establishment of the Department, the Histology and Embryology course was already conducted as part of the training of second year students at Faculty of Biology by Prof. George Paspalev, and later - by Prof. Stefan Stefanov. In 1972, a separate course in Cytology was introduced and conducted. During the following 11 years, the course was conducted by the leading Cell Biology specialist - Prof. DSc George Markov and the practical courses were organized by the Assistants Liliana Dimcheva, Veselin Penkov and Dobrinka Miteva.


Prof. Stefan Stefanov, Head of the Department from 1974 to 1989

Since 1992, the courses in Cell Biology and Cytology, as well as some specialized courses at the Department were developed and conducted by Prof. DSc Elena Stefanova, and after 1994, Prof. DSc Roumen Pankov has been also involved in this process. Prof. Stefanova and Prof. Pankov created Cell and Tissue Culture Laboratory, where practical courses for graduate students and experimental work of PhD students and assistants are conducted.

Since the establishment of the Department in 1974, its management was taken by Prof. Stefan Stefanov. He held office until his retirement in 1989. The following year, Prof. Dr Lalyu Dzhondzhurov was appointed as a temporary head (1990 to 1992). After him, Prof. Veselin Penkov was acting as head for two terms and from 2001 till 2009, the Department was led by Prof. DSc Elena Stefanova. Currently, Head of the Department is Prof. DSc Roumen Pankov, Corresponding member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

The other lecturers at the Department are Assist. Plamen Georgiev, PhD, Assoc. Prof. Tanya Topuzova-Christova, PhD, Assist. Ralitza Skrobanski, PhD, Assist. Nadezhda Stefanova, PhD, Assist. Vesselina Moskova-Dumanova, PhD, and Assist. Victoria Necheva. Their work is supported by the technician Denitza Melnishka.

Beyond the basic subjects for bachelor students, the Department organizes training in two Master’s programmes (MP) – Cell Biology and Pathology and Developmental Biology. The Department is accredited and regularly teaches PhD students in the scientific major of Cell Biology.

Currently, two PhD students are preparing their theses at the Department - Borislav Arabadziev and Alexander Evangelatov.

The Department has signed Erasmus Agreement and maintains active collaboration with the University of Grenoble, France.

Opening of the Academic year 1979, Assoc. Prof. V. Penkov, Prof. E. Stefanova and Assist. Liliana Dimcheva are sitting on the second row Staff of the Department in 1979 Staff of the Department in 1981

The research at the Department of Cytology, Histology and Embryology is focused on the following issues - organization, function and recovery of eukaryotic genome after damage, apoptotic changes in eukaryotic cells, adhesion mediated cell signaling in normal and variable gravity, xperimental embryology and mechanisms of development.

Recently, a new direction, related to the study of stem cells, has also being established and a team from the Department played a leading role in the creation of the first human embryonic stem cell lines in Bulgaria. Intense work on the development and study of new three-dimensional cell culture systems, imitating the complex conditions in the living organisms is also in progress. Another trend, developed jointly with the Department of Biochemistry, includes studies of the structure, function and significance of mutations in the Best 1 protein in the development of various pathological conditions of the eye.

The department maintains active research collaboration with scientists from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, University of Grenoble, France and others.

Over the past five years four PhD theses were defended and three new theses are currently being developed at the Department.

1. Cell Biology for programme Biology (Prof. E. Stefanova)
2. Cytology for programmes in Molecular Biology and Biotechnologies (Prof. R. Pankov)
3. Cytology for programme Biology and Chemistry, Ecology and Environmental Protection, Bio-management and Sustainable Development and Geography and Biology (Prof. E. Stefanova)
4. Cytology, Histology and Embryology for programme Biology and English (Assoc. Prof. T. Topuzova)
5. Histology and Embryology for programme Biology (Prof. R. Konakchieva and Assoc. Prof. P. Georgiev)
6. Animal Cell Culture for programme Biotechnologies (Prof. R. Pankov)
and 5 other subjects.

Practicals in Cytology, compulsory for every bachelor’s programme Before the lectures with MSc students of Cell Biology and Pathology programme

1. Master programme Cellular Biology and Pathology
2. Master programme Developmental Biology
3. Master programme Medical and pharmacological Biophysical Chemistry
4. Master programme Medical Physics
5. Master programme Human and Animal Physiology.