Jerzy Kościelak

Professor Jerzy Kościelak (1930 – 2022) was a long-time leader of Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine in Warsaw. Since 1983 he was a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Jerzy Kościelak was a world-renowned, highly accomplished glycobiologist. In 1993, he organized the 12th International Symposium on Glycoconjugates in Kraków, which turned out to be a very memorable event. From 1993 to 1995, he was the President of the International Glycoconjugate Organization.

Jerzy Kościelak made fundamental discoveries in the field of glycobiology. He characterized long-chain glycosphingolipids (polyglycosylceramides) from human red blood cells and showed that they carry antigens of the ABO blood group system. He also studied cold agglutinin disease, and discovered that i-active structures (the I and i antigens) are glycosphingolipids with linear (in neonates) or branched (in adults) chains of repeating N-acetyllactosamine units, called i and I, respectively. In most individuals, β1,6-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase (encoded by the GCTN2 gene) converts i to I, but mutations in GCNT2 result in the presence of the i antigen in adults. In addition, Prof. Kościelak described several cases of congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG) and characterized previously unknown fucosyltransferases from platelets.


Among his most important papers are:

  1. Kościelak J, Miller-Podraza H, Krauze R, Piasek A: solation and characterization of poly(glycosyl)ceramides (megaloglycolipids) with A, H and I blood-group activities. Eur. J. Biochem 1976, 71(1):9-18.
  2. Kościelak J, Zdebska E, Wilczyńska Z, Miller-Podraza H, Dzierżkowa-Borodej W: Immunochemistry of Ii‐Active Glycosphingolipids of Erythrocytes. Eur. J. Biochem 1979, 96(2):331-7.
  3. Kościelak J, Plasek A, Górniak H, Gardas A, Gregor A: Structures of Fucose‐Containing Glycolipids with H and B Blood‐Group Activity and of Sialic Acid and Glucosamine‐Containing Glycolipid of Human‐Erythrocyte Membrane. Eur. J Biochem 1973, 37(2):217-225.
  4. Gardas A, Kościelak J: Megaloglycolipids – unusually complex glycosphingolipids of human erythrocyte membrane with A, B, H and I blood group specificity. FEBS Lett 1974, 41(1): 101-104.
  5. Gardas A, Kościelak J: A, B and H Blood Group Specificities in Glycoprotein and Glycolipid Fractions of Human Erythrocyte Membrane. Absence of Blood Group Active Glycoproteins in the Membranes of Non‐Secretors. Vox Sang 1971, 20(2): 137-149.
  6. Kamińska J, Glick MC, Koscielak J: Purification and characterization of GDP-L-Fuc: N-acetyl β-D-glucosaminide a1→6fucosyltransferase from human blood platelets. Glycocnjugate J 1998, 15(8):783-788.
  7. Wilczyńska Z, Miller-Podraza H, Kościelak J: The contribution of different glycoconjugates to the total ABH blood group activity of human erthrocytes. FEBS Lett 1980, 112(2), 277-279.
  8. Zdebska E, Koscielak J: Studies on the Structure and I‐Blood‐Group Activity of Poly(glycosyl)ceramides. Eur. J. Biochem. 1978, 97(2): 517-525
  9. Zdebska E, Musielak M, Jaeken J, Kościelak J: Band 3 glycoprotein and glycophorin A from erythrocytes of children with congenital disorder of glycosylation type-la are underglycosylated. Proeomics 2001, 1(2):269-274,
  10. Zdebska E , Gołaszewska E, Fabijańska-Mitek J, Schachter H, Shalev H, Tamary H, Sandström H, Wahlin A, Kościelak J: Glycoconjugate abnormalities in patients with congenital dyserythropoietic anaemia type I, II and III. Br. J. Haematol. 2001, 114(4): 907-913.