History of the Department
The teaching of obstetrics as a separate subject in the theoretical and practical education of medical students began relatively late. More than 200 years ago the medical students in the regular studies had already benefited from obstetrical instrument and surgery studies during their education however a separate Department of Obstetrics at the Faculty of Medicine was only founded in 1817.
The advancement of veterinary obstetrics is related to the development of animal husbandry. The subject of animal breeding taught by Márton Galambos (1820-1872) from 1851 covered almost exclusively issues related to mating and calving. For training in animal husbandry a separate department was set up in 1873 under the leadership of Béla Tormay. In his lectures he already taught the body of knowledge of obstetrics and also its scope of function.
Professor Béla Nádaskay (1848-1933) was a teacher of anatomy (was not a practicing obstetrician), but in 1887 and in 1889 his books on the study of obstetrics were published.
Within the framework of the four year training program obstetrics at the veterinary academy was taught during the IV. year for a semester, three academic lectures a week, and the curriculum already required obstetric surgery training. Then obstetrics made up the III. subject of the comprehensive exam, and its lecturer since 1891 was Károly Monostori (1852-1917), became professor of animal husbandry. He was the first in Hungary who wrote about the artificial insemination of horses. His book on the Study of Surgery (1898) at that time was considered to be a textbook of the highest level.
When the veterinary academy was elevated to the rank of college, Béla Plósz took over the teaching of obstetrics (1899) – he was the professor of surgery. The theoretical lectures were held three hours per week for a semester, and the obstetrical practices were methodized three hours a week as well, but for two semesters. Plósz was the one who recognized the importance of obstetrical practice and it was during the period of his work that the renowned foreign veterinary obstetric De Bruin’s book was translated to Hungarian, and was published in Hungarian under the title “Szarvasmarha Szülészet” (bovine obstetrics) in 1911. The introduction of castration and ovariectomia in pig to veterinary science is attributed to Plósz.
Hetzel (1875-1949) first worked as an assistant professor at the surgical clinic of Plósz and later was asked to direct the practical courses at the veterinary colleges. Hetzel was chosen by Plósz to organize the domestic struggle in the battle against infertility in cattle. And so, Hetzel with the recommendation of Plósz was able to travel to Denmark in order to meet Albrechtsen, the expert of infertility education. In Hungary the organized defense against infertility began under the directions of Hetzel with the prevention methods of Albrechts: regular screening of healthy livestock.
Hetzel was first commissioned only to teach the theory of infertility disease and medicine (1912). That same year his book on infertility was published, which had several printings. In 1918 Hetzel was entrusted with the lecture on obstetrics, as an independent discipline, and in 1927 he was appointed professor. Until his retirement in 1946, he served as the head of department and director of the clinic. During his leadership veterinary obstetrics not only became an independent branch of science, but also flourished. Professor Hetzel was recognized by his peers both abroad and at home. His national recognition is well illustrated by his election as dean.
The establishment of the new obstetrical clinic, which began its operations in 1930, is connected to Hetzel. The new institute during its time met the highest demands and earned the recognition of foreign visitors.
Hetzel gave into the hands of his students in 1924 an excellent textbook on obstetrics: 302 pages with 63 pictures, at that time it was one of the best and finest textbooks (the second edition was published in 1944). He placed great emphasis on practical training besides the theoretical education. He held operation demonstrations for students and practicing veterinarians, constructed special instruments, and introduced the application of epidural and infiltration anesthesia in large animals. Between 1936 and 1945 he also held consultation hours at the policlinic.
His successor as head of department was colleague and student Andor Szepeshely (1903-1989), who received his veterinary degree in 1927, followed by a doctorate degree in 1929. He began his career beside Professor Marek, later he was assigned to the obstetric department in 1931, and obtained the qualification of private lecturer. He was the head of the obstetric department from 1946 to 1948. Thereafter he became involved in artificial insemination and worked until his retirement as Deputy Director of the National Artificial Insemination Centre, and director of the central laboratory until 1967. Based on his earlier academic literature, he received a PhD degree in veterinary science in 1952. His achievements were recognized with many honors.
After Szepeshely the new head of the obstetric department was Kálmán Bölcsházy (1901-1978), who stood at the head of the department for nearly 20 years. Bölcsházy receive his degree in 1927, and worked for the next 4 years at the obstetric department. He was the first pioneering veterinarian in Hungary in the introduction of endocrine examination (hormone determination). On November 1st in 1948 he received the mandate to direct the obstetric department. Bölcsházy was amongst the first to point out the relationship between the keeping and feeding conditions, and the cumulative reproductive problems; furthermore that the biological balance of the animal organism and its reproductive capacity depends on the harmonious unity of the individual and of the environment. He constructed several original instruments, and won several awards at national and international instrument exhibitions. During his time as a teacher his work was rich in publications. First, he published Hetzel’s book on obstetrics, then together with István Mészáros it was revised and updated (1952-1953 and 1960-1962). His work on infertility compiled with the help of Sándor Cseh had two editions (1959, 1963).
During the description of the history and the activities of obstetrical department we cannot leave out the name of István Mészáros (born 1910) an Honorary Professor, who played an important role in the field of reproductive biology and artificial insemination – and although was not head of the department, he still had strong ties with it for decades. In 1933 he received his veterinary degree and in 1934 his doctorate. For three years he was the assistant professor to Hetzel. With his research group he launched artificial insemination, and continued to direct this task for the next 30 years as Director General of the Central Artificial Insemination Station. As recognition of his domestic and international lectures, publications and books written together with Bölcsházy, and for his professional and social functions, he was awarded the Kossuth Prize.
After Bölcsházy’s retirement Sándor Cseh (1914-1972) became his successor, who in 1939 received his veterinary degree. In 1940 he worked at the side Professor Hetzel, and he served as an asstant professor until August 1943. During this time he attended to the task of policlinic at the small animal clinic. In 1942 he received veterinary doctor degree. In 1943 he was appointed as district veterinarian, while he also received a separate commission from the stud farm at Kisbér for conducting the final practical training of veterinary students. Due to his military service and three years of captivity in Russia as prisoner of war he was only able to continue his professional career after his return in 1948. At that time the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture assigned him the task of organizing the first domestic main cattle insemination station at Magyarkeresztúr, the development of artificial insemination technology, and he trained the directors of the then founded ten artificial insemination stations. In 1951 he was stationed at Budapest and was entrusted with the leadership of laboratory at the National Artificial Insemination Center; later that year he was assigned to the obstetrics clinic where he worked without interruption until his death. After the retirement of Professor Bölcsházy in 1966 he was entrusted with the leadership of the department. He carried out his teaching duties and research with great dedication and perseverance. At the university he founded the teaching of reproductive biology, worked out the syllabus for the theoretical and practical training in andrology and artificial insemination. His scholarly work is can be followed in numerous papers written on obstetrics, infertility, reproductive biology, and udder disease, the successful defense of his PhD of science in 1966 on the topic of service period in cows, as well as his many national and international lectures. He was the one who wrote the university textbook on surgery that was published in two editions. His work was carried out with great diligence, but was cut short by his untimely death. He did not live to see the publication of his over 900 pages long textbook that elaborated on the topics of obstetrics, reproductive biology, and surgery; however, his work posthumous served the education of veterinary students for almost over a decade. As the last Hetzel-student he did a lot for the expansion of practical training.
After the sudden death of Sándor Cseh in 1972 György Horváth, associate professor, was temporarily entrusted with the leadership of the department. György Horváth (born 1928) received his veterinary degree in 1951. In 1962 he received his PhD degree of science. He was appointed university professor in 1978. His scientific work primarily focused on the field of causes of udder diseases (mastitis), its therapy and prevention.
János Haraszti became the head of department in 1973. János Haraszti (born in 1924) received his veterinary degree in 1951; in 1952 he was invited by Professor Csukás as a teaching assistant to the department of animal husbandry. About two years thereafter he became a teaching assistant at the department of obstetrics. He was awarded his PhD degree of science in 1961. In 1978, he was appointed as a university professor. He was the Secretary of the Committee of Veterinary Medicine of the Hungarian Academy of Science and President of the Biology, Association of Hungarian Veterinarians. Under his guidance the scientific activity of the obstetrics department greatly expanded, and turned towards the so-called post-partum metabolic disorders that caused severe losses in the large-scale cattle industry. Haraszti initiated the endocrine research that reflects the sexual activity of cattle. It was the theme of Haraszti’s academic doctoral thesis (1984).
László Zöldág (born in 1948) took over as the head of department from 1991; received his veterinary degree in 1971 and came to work at the department in 1973. As a Humboldt scholar at the Veterinary College of Hannover he carried out research in the field of infertility in cattle, and defended his PhD thesis in this topic. Under his direction, the department took the name “Department and Clinic of Obstetrics and Reproduction” to better reflect the field it was teaching. During his time at the department he actively took part in writing, apart from nearly 80 publications, six textbooks and course books as an author or co-author to aid the education. In 1997, he transferred to the animal husbandry, nutritional and laboratory animal science institute, where as the head of the animal husbandry and genetic department he is responsible for organizing the teaching of a subject with the same name in Hungarian, English and German.
He was followed by László Solti (born in 1946) who joined the department in 1972 during the tenure of Sándor Cseh. His professional activities were defined by the scientific collaboration with the university’s Department of Physiology, with the result of introducing the developed new immunological-analytical methods (CPBA, RIA and ELISA) into practice. His scholarship to Denmark was of great significance, during that time he became acquainted with the rapidly developing methods of reproduction-biotechnology. On his return he took part in the introduction of embryo transfer in Hungary and in the launching of the Embryo Transfer Station at Üllo, which in its time was widely recognized in Europe. In 1989, at the newly established Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center at Gödöllo, he was appointed Director of the Institute, where he launched the animal biotechnology research. After his return to the university he took over the department’s management in 1994. Barely three years later he was elected rector of the university, and after its integration directed the institute as dean. After the end his cycle as dean for two years he held the position of rector at the University of Veterinary Science in Vienna from where he returned to the head of department in 2005. He was selected as an external member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry in 1997; in 2004 the Hungarian Academy of Science elected him as correspondence member and in 2010 as a full member. He is the President of the Hungarian National Veterinary Association since 2001, President of the European Society of Domestic Animal Reproduction, and Board Member of the European College of Animal Reproduction.
László Solti directed the department’s work for 17 years, from 1994 to 2011. Sándor Cseh Jr., who followed László Solti, joined the department in 1999. Sándor Cseh completed his studies at the University of Veterinary Science in 1979. He began his professional career at the already mentioned internationally recognized Embryo Transfer Station at Üllo, where he worked until 1995. As a result of his work the first calves and lambs were born from frozen in vivo and in vitro produced embryos in Hungary. The development and introduction of the sheep embryo transfer technology applied successfully at working conditions is linked to his name. He went to work in the United States in 1995 and as visiting scientist spent four years in California, at the Loma Linda University Medical Faculty. The main area of his research was assisted reproduction of primates. Through this he came into contact with the human in vitro fertilization program. After having accepted László Solti’s invitation in 1999, he returned to Hungary and continued his career at the Department and Clinic of Obstetrics and Reproduction. With the utilization of external aid he has established a new andrology and assisted reproduction laboratory. Since 2000 he is the scientific advisor at St. John’s Hospital Infertility Center. He is a member of the team that made it possible for Hungary to become the eight in the World, the third in Europe, and the fist country in Central and Eastern Europe where babies were born from frozen oocytes. He is founding member of the European College of Animal Reproduction (ECAR) and a member of numerous national and international scientific organizations; he is a regularly invited reviewer of several national and international scientific journals. Since 1999 he is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Science’s Biotechnology Committee, between 2002-2007 he was the secretary, since 2008 he exercises the function of president. Since 200 he has been taking part in the work of the ECAR Education and Residency Committee.
Here we have to mention professor Gyula Huszenicza, a teacher and researcher of the department with an outstanding career. Gyula Huszenicza graduated summa cum laude at the University of Veterinary Science in 1974 and he has worked for more than 31 years at the department since 1979, when he started to teach and research as an assistant lecturer. In 1988, he successfully defended his PhD thesis, then a few years later, in 1994 he was appointed university professor and in the same year he was elected doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Science. He was a founding member of the European College of Animal Reproduction (ECAR) and a leading member in numerous hungarian and international organizations, as well as, he was elected member of the editor’s committee of many important scientific journals. In 1989, he has established the Isotope Laboratory for Clinical Endocrinology, and later he organized the Budapest Workshop of Young Endocrinologsts eight times, in which several PhD students participated from many countries. For many years, he was responsible for organizing the subject of veterinary obstetrics, reproduction and udder health, as well as, teaching several chapters of the topic, furthermore he lectured two other elective subjects. He was appointed deputy rector for research and postgraduate education in 1994, later he became deputy dean, and he has been the leader of the doctorate course since 2006, until his early death in 2010.
In recent years, veterinary medicine and veterinary training has undergone significant changes after having faced new challenges. After the change of regime in the political system, state farms were privatized and most of them abandoned agriculture, a significant part of the agricultural co-operatives went broke and the number of livestock drastically decreased. The long-term crisis in animal husbandry fundamentally affected veterinary activities; it previously focused on livestock, but since then it has expanded to include pet medicine. Although the propagation of food-producing animals is still not a negligible basic task, small animal obstetrics and reproductive biology began to rapidly develop and has been given a greater role in education. It was a significant step forward, that in 2001 the Large Animal Clinic at Üllo was handed over and its first director came from the Obstetrics Department (Prof. Dr. Ottó Szenci). All the livestock and horse-related activities, including the teaching of obstetrics and reproductive biology and clinical care are the responsibilities of the Large Animal Clinic. A similarly large-scale change is signified by the Small Animal Clinic that was opened a few years ago, it is intended to carry out the task of small animal care and practical training. The veterinary staffs of both clinics continue to coordinate with the department, taking part in teaching the appropriate discipline and research.
In the decade and a half since the borders were opened, the number of foreign students participating in the university’s veterinary training in foreign languages has steadily grown and now far exceeds the number of Hungarian students. The internationalization of the education was inevitable, which also meant that each instructor and researcher has to be able to teach their subjects in English and/or in German. This task was successfully fulfilled by the staff of the department; all of them regularly give lectures in a foreign language. During the end of the XX. century, in the nineties, two major international organizations were formed in the field of animal reproduction (European Society for Domestic Animal Reproduction, ESDAR and European Veterinary Society for Small Animal Reproduction, EVSSAR) in which we are not only members, but are also represented on its board. The international recognition of our institute is reflected by the fact that the ESDAR (1998) and the EVSSAR (2006) awarded Hungary the right to hold its annual conference; furthermore, in 2008 we also won the right to hold the world conference on animal breeding which is held every four years (International Congress on Animal Reproduction, ICAR).
In order to provide day-one-competences for our graduate students, a new neutering program was initiated in 2013. Since then 4-5 dogs/cats are spayed on a daily basis each week from Monday to Thursday and the operations are performed with the contribution of 4th and 5th year students. By June 2015 almost 1000 pets has been neutered, so it can be concluded that this program really improved the pracitcal education at the Faculty.
The Department and Clinic of Obstetrics and Animal Reproduction is the first among the departments of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Budapest, Hungary which joined in the international educational program of resident veterinarians, led by the European College of Animal Reproduction (ECAR). The department has been taking part in the practical education of resident veterinarian and senior and gradual veterinarian students of the University of Veterinary Science, Vienna, Austria since 2012. This program is based on a contract between the two universities and includes practical training of the residents and gradual students in the field of ruminant reproduction.
Per the decision of the Senate of the University, in September 2019 five instructors were transfered from the Food animal clinic. (Prof. Dr. Szenci Ottó egyetemi tanár, MTA Doktor, Dr. Horváth András PhD, Dr. Szelényi Zoltán, Dr. Lénárt Lea és Dr. Csepreghy Anna).