Dear Colleagues,

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Department of Anatomy, Histology and Anthropology, Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to “The 8th Baltic Morphology Conference: Interdisciplinary Nature of Contemporary Morphology”. We kindly invite scientists from different research fields to take part at this international scientific event which will be held on the 12-14th of November, 2015, in Vilnius, Lithuania (at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University). This international Conference is devoted to the 240th anniversary of the Department of Anatomy at Vilnius University. Besides, the term “morphology” also celebrates 220 years (firstly named as such by the German poet, natural philosopher and diplomat Johann Wolfgang von Goethe around 1795-1796).

“The Baltic Morphology” conferences have been organized every two years since 2003. Traditionally, these scientific events bring together scientists from the fields of Biological Morphology (anatomists, histologists, anthropologists, veterinarians, pathologists, historians of medicine, anatomy education). Recently, physicists, biochemists and scientists from other fields are joining these meetings. However, what should we consider under the term “morphology” today?

In general, Morphology refers to the study of shape and form: in Biology – the form and structure of the organisms, in Geology – the configuration, formation and changes of the land forms, in Linguistics morphology deals with words and their internal structure. The term of biological morphology is generally attributed to Goethe (1749–1832) who focused on homology, and these ideas had influenced the 19th century naturalists. Interestingly enough, the Department of Anatomy at Vilnius University was established in 1775, exactly the same year when Goethe was invited to Weimar to the court of Carl August, Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, where he remained for the rest of his life, held a succession and became the Duke’s chief adviser. More than 200 years have passed since Goethe’s times, but nowadays step by step we are moving back to the initial idea of developing a full-scale point of view of some unsolved scientific problems: due to rapid technical advancement, morphological science is developing at an unprecedented stride, and is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary and collaborative in nature. Recently, we have been witnessing an expanding trend towards interdisciplinary research teams, in particular so as to solve complex health-related problems.

Biological morphology today means much more than only form and macroscopic structure of organisms – it covers structure in relation to function, also a tremendous range of sizes – from the macroscopic to the molecular, it deals with structural details of individual tissues and single cells, the structure of compound molecules (molecular morphology), such as polymers and RNA. Thus recently the role of Biotechnology, Biophysics and Bioengineering has been increasing in modern transdisciplinary morphological research. The changes in structure and function of organisms are related to the environmental and life style changes – therefore Biological morphology is devoting more and more attention to ecology, social and economical conditions under which living organisms exist.

Everyone will agree that lively participation and personal communication during the scientific meetings, conferences and congresses can facilitate the fastest exchange of the most topical information in a certain field. Why not reconsider “morphology” on a broadly based platform: Biology, Medicine, Physical, Social sciences and Humanities. Let’s do the same as Goethe – let’s have “brainstorming” in natural sciences, let’s consider all kinds of morphology, including literature, dancing, and maybe even drawing as well? Homologous structures have similar basic structural and developmental patterns, reflecting common derivation, genesis and evolutionary relationships. Let’s look for corresponding similarities in all fields of Morphology – perhaps, we will succeed and enhance our creativity as well!

On behalf of the all Organizers,

Yours truly and sincerely,
Prof. Janina Tutkuviene

Head of the Department of Anatomy,
Histology and Anthropology,
Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University