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Semmelweis University Gallery


Issekutz, Béla


of Erzsébetváros

(B. Kőhalom, 31st January, 1886 – D. Budapest, 31st July, 1979)

Dean: 1943/44 –1944/45 1st semester

His family was of Armenian origin and was raised to noble rank by Maria Theresia in 1758, which was acknowledged by Franz Joseph, too, who then donated the title “erzsébetvárosi” to them as the family was based in Erzsébetváros, Transylvania. His father was a magistrate. Béla studied at the Piarist secondary school in Kolozsvár. He obtained his degree there on 12th December, 1908. He worked as an intern at the Institute of Pharmacology from 1906 where he later became first assistant lecturer.

It was in this institute where he began doing research on pharmacodynamics under the guidance of Zsigmond Jakabházy in 1907. Still a student, he won three scholarships (Kabdebó Simon, Cameller and Goldberg). He went to Heidelberg on a study trip in 1914 and became privatdozent of experimental pharmacology and recent drugs the same year. He was appointed professor extraordinarius in 1919. In 1921 he became professor ordinarius and director of the Institute of Pharmacology which had been moved to Szeged.

Béla Issekutz was dean of the Medical Faculty in Szeged between 1925 and 1927, then in 1936 and 1937, and rector of the university for the second term of the academic year of 1927/28. He played an important role in summoning Albert Szent-Györgyi home. He went on a study trip to Berlin and Hamburg in 1928. He was invited to the Medical Faculty in Budapest in 1937 as professor of pharmacognosy. He was professor of pharmacology and director of the Institute of Pharmacognosy between 1939 and 1962. Béla Isskeutz was founder of modern experimental pharmacology in Hungary. He did research mainly on the pharmacology of alcaloids, hormones, antispasmodics and stimulants, the assessment of drugs, narcosis, immunity and addiction to poisons, the mode of action of insulin and the chemotherapy of cancer.

He demonstrated that insulin increases glicogen production in poppy. The introduction of several new drugs is connected with his name. He was elected corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences on 12th May, 1939, then regular member on 30th May, 1945. His pharmacognosy textbook, which was co-authored by Zsigmond Jakabházy in 1913, and his textbook of pharmacology and toxicology written in 1951, were considered as basic textbooks in the training of pharmacists at the university for several decades. His textbook on prescribing drugs, which was first published in 1939, was revised by him and his daughter, Lívia Issekutz in 1969. The textbook which had three more editions in 1972, 1975 and 1979, is still considered as the number one textbook of medical and pharmacy students, practising doctors and pharmacists, it is known as “the Issekutz”.

Béla Issekutz was dean of the Medical Faculty in Budapest from September 1943 until March 1945 when the complete university board together with all office-holders resigned because of the new situation after the siege of Budapest. He was vice-rector of science at the Medical University in Budapest from 1955 until his retirement in 1962. Of his orders, mention must be made of the 5th grade of the Order of the Hungarian People’s Republic (1951), the second grade of Kossuth Prize (1952), the Order of Work (1956, 1962, golden grade in 1966) and the Red Banner Order of Work (1976). He was awarded the Semmelweis Medallion in 1962 and the Jancsó Miklós Medallion in 1963. He was member of the German Society of Pharmacology from 1921 and the Biology Society in Vienna between 1933 and 1944. He was president of Comittee of Pharmaceutical Research and Register and Health Care Scientific Council between 1940 and 1962. He was the first president of the Hungarian Pharmacology Society from 1962, then honorary member. He was elected honorary doctor of the Medical University in Szeged in 1971. He was the editor of the proceedings of the Medical Department, Hungarian Academy of Sciences between 1948 and 1962. He worked as editor-in-chief of Acta Physiologica from 1948 and Therapia Hungarica from 1958.

(Major works: A comparative study of the effect of several materials on breathing. Kolozsvár, 1911.; Textbook of pharmacognosy /co-author Zsigmond Jakabházy/. Kolozsvár, 1913.; Prescribing drugs. Bp., 1931., Oberflächenaktivität und spasmolitische Wirkung. In: Arch. exp. Path. Pharmacol., 1934.; Über die Synergismus der Bronchialkrampflösenden. In: Arch. exp. Path. Pharmacol., 1943.; Pharmacology of the nervous system controlling metabolism /co-author Béla Issekutz jun./. In: Hungarian Medical Journal/Orvosi Hetilap, 1949.; Examination methods of general pharmacology and pharmaceutical research. Bp., 1957., Pharmacology and cure I-III. Bp., 1959-1960., Introduction to experimental pharmacodynamics and examination methods. Bp., 1964., Miklós Jancsó, sen. and Miklós Jancsó, jun., two scientists of medicine. Bp., 1968., The chemotherapy of cancer. Bp., 1969.; Prescribing drugs /co-author Lívia Issekutz/. Bp., 1969.; Die Geschichte der Arzneimittelforschung. Bp., 1970.)