Pauls Stradiņš was a surgeon, oncologist, medical historian and doctor of medicine (1923, 1927). He became a professor in 1933. Stradiņš was born on January 17, 1896, in Viesīte. His father was a craftsman, Jānis Stradiņš. Pauls had three younger sisters, two of whom also became doctors. After graduating from the Alexander Gymnasium in Rīga with a gold medal, Stradiņš entered the Petrograd Academy of War Medicine (now the St Petersburg Academy) in 1914. He completed his studies in 1919 and then did four years of post-graduate work under the leadership of Professor Sergey Fydorov.
In 1923, Stradiņš defended his doctoral dissertation. The same year, he married a fellow doctor, Nina Malisheva, and at the end of the year the couple returned to Latvia. In 1924, Stradiņš was appointed as a docent at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Latvia, and that remained his job until the end of his life. In 1925, he became Latvia’s first recipient of the Rockefeller Fund stipend , which allowed him to spend time in the United States.
In 1927, Stradiņš defended a second doctoral dissertation and received an award from the Latvian Cultural Fund for it. In addition to his work at the university, he served as medical director of the Rīga No. 2 Hospital (now the Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital) (1931-1941). From 1936 until 1940, he published a People’s Health Calendar.
After World War II, Pauls Stradiņš took over as director of the Institute of Biology and Experimental Medicine at the Latvian Academy of Sciences (1946-1951). In 1951, he became head of the Oncology Sector of the Latvian Experimental and Clinical Medicine Scholarly Research Institute. In 1957, he began to edit a journal called Iz istorii mediciny, which was renamed Acta Medico-Historica Rigensia in 1992.
Pauls Stradiņš died at the age of 62 on August 14, 1958 and was buried at the First Forest Cemetery in Rīga. The Republican Clinical Hospital, Rīga Stradiņš University, Museum of the History of Medicine, Rīga No. 2 Medical School and several streets were named in his honour.
Pauls Stradiņš had four children: Irēna Stradiņa (artist), Maija Sosāre (linguist), Jānis Stradiņš (chemist, science historian, professor, academician), and Asja Eglīte (physiotherapist). Several of his grandchildren are also doctors. Linda Sosāre is a gastroenterologist, while Andrejs Ērglis and Pēteris Stradiņš are heart surgeons.
Pauls Stradiņš established and directed the Latvian Anti-Cancer Association (1934-1937), the Health Promotion Association (1937-1940), the Medical Association (1945-1946), the Scientific Association of Surgeons (1946-1952), the Association of Medical Historians (1953), the first oncology hospital in Latvia, the Rīga No. 2 Medical School (1939), and a blood transfusion facility (1941).
He received an honorary badge from the Latvian Anti-Tuberculosis Association (1934), the Cross of Recognition, 3rd Grade (1939), the Soviet medal “For Self-Denial During the Great War of the Fatherland 1941-1945”, a certificate of honour from the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Latvian SSR, and the Order of the Red Flag of Labour of the USSR.