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Semmelweis University Gallery


Ajtai Kovách, Sándor


(B. 23rd March, 1845, Kolozsvár – D. 4th June, 1917, Budapest)

Dean: 1896/97 - 1897/98.

Sándor Kovács Ajtai was of middle class origin and completed his secondary school studies in Kolozsvár. He pursued his medical studies at Pest University and it was also here where the doctor’s title was conferred on him on 17th October, 1868. He was then invited to work with Lajos Arányi, a professor of pathology. He stayed at Arányi’s department for three years, while simultaneously working as a pathologist at the Rókus Hospital, the hospital of commerce, the children’s hospital, and the Department of Forensic Medicine. With the aid of a state scholarship, he went abroad on an academic trip in 1871, spending six months in Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig’s Department of Physiology in Leipzig, and in Ernst Leberecht Wagner’s Institute of Pathology.

After another six months’ stay in Berlin and further visits to other universities, he returned home to Kolozsvár in 1872. Here, at the newly-established Ferenc József University, he was appointed professor extraordinarius of general pathology and pharmaceutics, and then professor ordinarius in 1873. During his next trip abroad over the summer of 1874, he monitored numerous institutes of forensic medicine. In the 1874/1875 academic year, he became professor of forensic medicine and medical law in Kolozsvár. He was the dean of the University of Kolozsvár for four years and rector for one year (1881/1882).

From 1874 on he was member of the National Board of Public Health, afterwards that of the Council of Forensic Medicine, too. In 1882, he was invited to Budapest and was appointed professor of forensic medicine, a position he kept until his retirement in 1915. The Üllői Road building of the institute standing even today was planned and built by Alajos Hauszmann but on Kovács Ajtai’s instructions. Along with directing the institute, he also worked as the prosector of the state police and as the medical expert of the Royal Court of Justice in Budapest. For two academic years (1896/97 and 1897/98) he was elected dean of the university, and in 1906/07 he was appointed rector. In 1907, he was also distinguished by the title of royal counsellor.

(Major works: Beitrag zur Kenntniss der Geschmacksorgane. Strassburg, 1872. /Reprint from «Archiv für Mikrosk. Anatomie».; History of the University 1881-82. With retrospection to the 1872–1882. first decennium. Kolozsvár, 1883. (Farewell-speech on leaving the Rector’s chair.)