Jiří Syllaba was born on May 8, 1902 in Prague. He studied medicine and right after graduation in 1926, he became an assistant at the Institute of Physiology of the Charles University in Prague. After 5 years, he stayed at the same university but switched to the 2nd Department of Internal Medicine, where he habilitated in 1934. He focused mainly on the physiology and pathology of respiratory and cardiovascular activities. He is considered the founder of Czechoslovak and Czech diabetology. During WWII, he became a member of an anti-Nazi group Národ that was led by a playwright Jaroslav Kvapil. In 1944, he was imprisoned with other members of this group, in Malá pevnost (Small Fortress) in Terezín, where he acted as doctor-prisoner. Without any currently accessible modern equipment, he managed to get an epidemic of typhus under control and saved lives of many of his fellow prisoners.
With the end of WWII, Syllaba entered a new phase of his life. In May 1945, he became head physician at the 2nd Department of Internal Medicine at the Hospital in Vinohrady, and later, he took the reins of the local 2nd Internal Clinic of the newly established Faculty of Hygiene at the Charles University. He served there as a professor until 1970. Today, a big lecture room is named after him there. In 1946, Jiří Syllaba was named associate professor, 10 years later he became a proper professor. In 1957 he was named Doctor of Medicine.
Jiří Syllaba had a wide range of cultural interests, he was a writer (memoirs Vzpomínky a úvahy lékaře (Memories and Contemplations of a Doctor), Mé vzpomínky na prezidenta T. G. Masaryka (My memories of president T. G. Masaryk), poet (a collection of verses Jarní oheň (Spring Fire), Poesie za mřížemi (Poetry Behind Bars), an art connoisseur and a visual artist (over a thousand watercolour paintings from various countries). Jiří Syllaba, knighted on October 19, 1996 as a knight of the Czech Medical Order, died on May 17, 1997 at the age of 95.
Jiří Syllaba was introduced to the Masonic Order by his father Ladislav Syllaba in 1926. Jiří Syllaba was Worshipful Master of the Národ Lodge in 1950-1951 just before the Czech Masonry went dormant, and then again in 1990-1991 after its restoration.