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Vol. 33 No. 1
January-February 2011
Programs and Institutions Bearing Maria Skłodowska-Curie’s Name

by Barbara Petelenz and Andrzej Kułakowski

One of the most visible ways in which the legacy of Maria Skłodowska-Curie (Maria Curie-Skłodowska, Marie Curie, or Madam/Madame Curie) has been preserved is through its use—in its various iterations—as part of the name of numerous institutions and programs around the world. To find all of them, even with modern tools, seems practically impossible, so, we apologize if—despite our best efforts—this list is incomplete.

Construction of the Reactor Maria at the Institute of Nuclear Energy in Swierk, Poland.

In Poland alone, the name Maria Skłodowska-Curie has been given to several hospitals originating from the Radium Institute, as well as to a state university,1 a government research institute,2 a private college,3 a nuclear reactor,4 several dozen primary and secondary schools, and to a few scientific societies. Many other Polish hospitals, research institutes, schools, or university faculties (colleges or schools) are located at Maria Skłodowska- Curie street or square; a similar pattern is evident in other countries around the world. Institutions or activities bearing the name of Marie Curie are usually related to her profession, but sometimes also to her Polish descent, her links with France, her gender, or to a combination of these factors. The international character of these institutions or activities is expressed either by the manner they are organized or by their scientific and social impact, or both.

Institut Curie, Paris, France
The first institute in the world to receive the name of Curie, was the Radium Institute (l’Institut du Radium) in Paris. It was established in 1909 as a central national laboratory, dedicated to fundamental studies on radioactivity and on its applications in physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine. It consisted of two divisions: the Curie Laboratory, headed by Marie Curie, which focused on physics and chemistry, and the Pasteur Laboratory, headed by Claudius Regaud, which was devoted to studies on the biological and medical effects of radiation. The laboratories were finished in 1914, just before the outbreak of World War I.

A hundred years later, the Curie Institute, along with its two hospitals located in Paris, is a top-notch scientific institution, oriented mainly toward cancer research, diagnosis, and treatment. It has retained its international character, both in the constitution of its Scientific Board and in the continuing pursuit of its educational mission, which emphasizes providing opportunities for foreign students. The Curie Institute offers “Ph.D. grants for foreign students who wish to do their thesis work in one of its laboratories” and participates in the “European Programme for doctoral studies in the sciences.”

The Curie Institute5 extends its educational mission to the wider public through the Curie Museum,6 located on the ground floor of the Curie Pavillion—one of the oldest buildings in the Institute. Its exhibitions commemorate the history of radioactivity and the contributions of the Curie family to the development of related disciplines.

Centre of Oncology—Maria Skłodowska-Curie Memorial Institute, Warsaw, Poland7
Although she was a French scientist, Marie Curie remained forever a Polish patriot. Her great wish, expressed in 1923 during the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the discovery or radium, was to create a Radium Institute in Poland. That same year, a group of Polish physicians formed the Polish Committee for Cancer Control and established the First Polish Program Against Cancer. The three main objectives of the program were the following: cancer research, health education, and creation of a national network of oncological institutes, starting with the six largest cities in Poland. A fund-raising campaign, the “Maria Skłodowska-Curie National Donation to Build the Radium Institute,” also was initiated in 1923. Gifts and donations were so generous that two years later Marie Curie placed the cornerstone of the new Institute and planted a memorial tree at the area donated by the University of Warsaw.

Curie and Regaud consulted on and supervised the construction of the Warsaw Institute. The clinical ward of the institute was officially opened in 1932. At the opening ceremony, Marie Curie, officially presented the 1 gram of radium, the purchase of which had been generously funded by Polish women’s groups from Canada and the USA.

The Maria Skłodowska-Curie Institute of Oncology in Warsaw, the leading and most specialized cancer research and treatment center in Poland, it wasfounded in 1932 as the Radium Institute (Photo: Hubert Śmietanka).

By 1937 the Radium Institute in Warsaw had its own laboratories of physics, metrology of radioactive bodies, and X-ray standardization. In 1939, following the outbreak of World War II, the first director of the institute, Franciszek Łukaszczyk, had to take drastic steps to prevent the radium from being confiscated by the Nazis and to keep the clinics running. In 1944, during the Warsaw Uprising,8 German troops killed the hospital’s patients and burned down the building. The reconstruction of the Institute started immediately after the liberation in 1945; it resumed activity in 1947. In 1951, the name “Centre of Oncology— Maria Skłodowska-Curie Memorial Institute” was officially given to the Radium Institute in Warsaw and to its branches in Kraków9 and Gliwice,10 both in Southern Poland.

Today, Poland has 16 oncology centers and a number of oncology wards in general hospitals. Each of these centers is involved in international scientific cooperation. The Center of Oncology in Warsaw has a new big hospital whose first clinics were opened in 1984, and which began full operation in 1995. The building of the former Radium Institute, which still serves patients, also houses a permanent exhibition commemorating the life and deeds of this great woman: “Tribute to Maria Skłodowska-Curie.”11

Marie Curie Hospitals in the World
Other examples of cancer hospitals in the world named after Marie Curie, include the Maria Curie Cancer Hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina12; the “Madame Curie” Provincial Oncological Hospital in Camagüey, Cuba13; and the chain of Cancer Centres in India: Curie Centre of Oncology, Bangalore; Gokula Curie Cancer Center, Bangalore; NMR Curie Centre of Oncology, Hubli; Curie Manavata Cancer Centre, Nashik, Maharastra; SMH-Curie Cancer Centre, Delhi; Curie-Abdur Razzaque Ansari Cancer Institute, Ranchi, Jharkhand; Panda Curie Cancer Centre, Cuttack, Orissa; Curie Centre of Oncology, Vijayawada, AP.14

Marie Curie Hospices
An important aspect of cancer treatment is the palliative care of terminally ill patients. Such is the mission of Marie Curie Cancer Care in the UK15 (formerly the Marie Curie Memorial Foundation), which is “a charity dedicated to alleviating suffering from cancer” that started in 1952. The organization inherits its name from the former Marie Curie hospital for women cancer patients, founded in 1929 in Hampstead (and staffed by women). Now, it runs nine specialist hospices throughout the UK, provides nursing for cancer patients at home, and educates the public about cancer.
The Marie Curie Research Institute, a branch of the organization that began in the early 1980s, is composed of eight research groups located at several sites in the UK. More recent initiatives are the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research and Development Unit, created in 1999 at the Royal Free Hospital, London, and the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute of Liverpool in 2004.16

Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, France
The most famous university to bear the Curie moniker is the Pierre and Marie Curie University (Université Pierre et Marie Curie, UPMC)17 in Paris. Its origins date to 1109, when it was a training center for clerics at the Saint Victor Abbey in the Latin Quarter of Paris. After numerous historical perturbations, the school adopted its modern form when the new Faculty of Sciences of the University of Paris was established in 1968. In 1971 it was named the University Paris 6, but in 1974 it was renamed in honor of Pierre and Marie Curie.

Today, UPMC has 31 campuses and locations, 162 laboratories, 3000 doctoral students, and 6000 international students. UPMC is a partner in about 20 international bachelor and master’s programs shared with other universities all over the world.

Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris (top) and a statue at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland.

Maria Skłodowska-Curie University, Lublin, Poland
The Maria Curie-Skłodowska University (UMCS) in Lublin, Poland, was established in October 1944 and officially opened on 14 January 1945. It is a state university, which initially consisted of five faculties: Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Natural Sciences, Agriculture, and Pharmacy. It now has 10 faculties, 25 institutes, and 5 independent research groups, including the radiochemistry group, which is one of the strongest in Poland.

Marie Curie Primary and High Schools
Our search has revealed a handful of schools named after Marie Curie outside of Poland. One is the Curie Metropolitan High School in Chicago, Illinois, USA,18 which offers an International Baccalaureate. Another example is the Collège Pierre et Marie Curie19 in St. Germain-en-Laye, France, originating from a school established in 1950 for the children of military personnel working for the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe.

Marie Curie High School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

A school which is particularly proud of its students’ achievements in English is the Marie Curie School in Dhaka, Bangladesh20 established in 1995. Two francophone Marie Curie schools were established in the former French colonies. One of them is the Marie Curie High School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,21 established in 1918 by the French colonial government as an “all-girls school” (nowadays, it is public, accepts both girls and boys, and remains one of a few schools in Vietnam that offers French as a foreign language). The other is the ISBI (Independent, Special, Boarding, International) school, École Marie Curie in Cité El Marhagène, Tunis-Mutuelleville, Tunisia,22 for young boys.

At least two schools named after Maria Skłodowska-Curie23,24 have been organized and are run by the Polish communities in the USA. Their aim is to conserve Polish cultural heritage among children of Polish immigrants.

When it comes to the Polish schools named after Maria Skłodowska-Curie, the files of the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Museum in Warsaw25 show 12 primary, 28 junior, and 42 high shools, as well as 47 clusters of educational units, many of which include the chemistry-oriented high schools and vocational schools.26

European Union Marie Curie Actions
The two young half-orphaned Skłodowska sistersrepresent an unusual example of strive for education and of the family solidarity expressed by mutual financial and technical help. Both ladies have achieved professional success, but they had to pay for it with a long period of bitter poverty and of extremely hard work in a friendly but foreign country.

A century after Marya (Curie) and Bronya (Dłuska) Skłodowska struggled to complete their education, the European Union demonstrated its belief that graduate and post-graduate education is one of the best investments in society by enacting a system of financial assistance for young people to develop their talents.

The most spectacular of such assistance programs are the EU Marie Curie (MC) Actions, started within the 6th Framework Program (FP6)27 in 2002 and continued (with a slightly modified organization) within the 7th Framework Program (FP7).28 A search in the CORDIS database, using “Marie Curie/PEOPLE” as the keywords, resulted in 2604 projects running within the FP7 so far.

Other International Programs and Grants Named after Marie Curie
Apart from the EU programs, there are also initiatives on a smaller scale (e.g., the Marie and Pierre Curie joint annual meetings of young Slovak and Czech chemists and biologists). The meetings are organized and sponsored by the Sigma-Aldrich company, which offers a Curie prize. In Japan, the program “Be the Next Marie Curie,” launched by Ochanomizu University in Tokyo,29 sponsors successful female applicants to study at research institutes in Europe.

Professional Societies and Awards Named after Marie Curie
In Poland, the name of Maria Skłodowska-Curie has been adopted by the Polish Chemical Society (PTChem),30 established in 1920, and by the Polish Radiation Research Society (PTBR),31 established in 1967. The PTChem awards its prestigious Maria Sklodowska-Curie Medal to outstanding chemists permanently working abroad, and PTBR grants the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Medal and Award to outstanding foreign scientists involved in radiation research.

On the other side of the ocean there are at least two organizations identified with Marie Curie. The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Professional Women’s Association,32 affiliated with the Polish National Alliance of Brooklyn, New York, USA, awards scholarships for female high school seniors. The American Association for Women Radiologists33 presents its annual Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of radiology. Another Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award was established in 2008 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers,34 and is granted annually for outstanding contributions to the field of nuclear and plasma sciences and engineering.

Last but not least, the former Eurekah Bioscience Database—a comprehensive resource in Bioscience and Medicine—is now known as the Madame Curie Bioscience Database.35

In her diverse capacities as a great scientist, dedicated humanitarian, a successful researcher, a teacher, a wise and tender mother, a loyal citizen of her adopted homeland and a faithful patriot of her mother country, Maria Skłodowska-Curie was perceptive to a variety of human needs and longings. In effect, as a personage of international standing and repute she is a perfect role model for various domains of human endeavour. It is only fitting that different organizations adopt her personality and name as their icon.

The authors thank the representatives of the IUPAC National Adhering Organizations in Austria (Ulrich Schubert), Bangladesh (M. Muhibur Rahman), Brazil (Fernando Galembeck), Cuba (Roberto Cao & Margarita Suarez), Cyprus (Epameinondas Leontidis), Denmark (Mikael Bols), Finland (Helena Visti), Hungary (George Horvai), Israel (Ehud Keinan), Ireland (Gilly Clarke), Japan (Kazuyuki Tatsumi), Norway (Harald Walderhaug), Slovakia (Dušan Berek), Sweden (Anders Lundgren), Switzerland (Barbara Winter-Werner and Lukas Weber), Tunisia (Mohamed Jemal), and USA (Lois Peterson Kent), who supplemented the information in this article.

Barbara Petelenz is from the Institute of Nuclear Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Cracow, Poland. Andrzej Kułakowski is from Maria Sklodowska-Curie Memorial Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, Poland. Among several important positions, from 1972 to 1992, he was Head of Dept. of Oncological Surger, and from 1991 to 1998 Director General. (revised online 1 Mar 2011)


  1. The Institute of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology in Warsaw, established in 1983, formerly operating since 1955 as the Chemistry Division of the former Institute of Nuclear Research. The publisher of the international journal Nukleonika.
  4. Reactor Maria at the Institute of Nuclear Energy in Swierk, was operating from 1975 to 1985. After a refurbishment, it has been operating since 1992.
  8. Rising ’44: The Battle for Warsaw by Norman Davies. Viking Press, 2004.
  19. The Lycée International St Germain-en-Laye & Partner Schools,
  23. Szkola Polska im. Marii Sklodowskiej-Curie, Park Ridge, IL, USA.
  24. Polska Szkoła Sobotnia im. Marii Skłodowskiej-Curie in Tarpon Springs, USA.


PostPrint Additions

  1. The Marie Curie Library of the The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy, is open to scientists and staff at the ICTP, the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), the International Centre for Science and High Technology (ICS), the University of Trieste's Department of Theoretical Physics (DFT) and the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA)
  2. Institut Curie de l’Indochine
    "At the beginning of the [20th] century, in the preparation for an extensive and long-term colonial exploitation, beside the investment on construction of infrastructure, French colonists opened a range of schools and training institutions including a medical school (founded 1902) to train local intellectuals for their future purposes. A range of indigenous protectorate hospitals were also established. The Institute of Radium of Indochina, a private organization and the only one in Indochina at the time, was founded on the 19th, October, 1923. In this period the institute had a different name: Institute du Radium de l’Indochine, Institute de Curie de l’Indochine, Fondation de Curie. The first director of Institute was Dr Pierre Moullin. In the initial period the institute in fact had a total of 4 directors, all of them French.” Nguyen Ba Duc et al., Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, Vol 2, 2001 89-92;

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