History of the Department
After the start of veterinary education in Hungary (1787), Sándor Tolnay (1749-1818) presented 74 prescription formulae in his Latin-language textbook, which facilitated the adoption of knowledge related to pharmacognosy and drug prescription in veterinary medicine according to the specifications of the Taxa Pharmaceutica Posoniensis (1745) and the Pharmacopoea Austriaca Provincialis (1775), the validity of which latter was extended to Hungary in 1779. After having been complemented with pharmacodynamics, the science of pharmacognosy and drug prescription developed into an independent discipline, pharmacology. The teaching of this discipline was started and the first independent Hungarian-language veterinary pharmacology textbook was written at the time when specialization in veterinary science commenced. This was linked especially with the activity of Márton Galambos, whose first Hungarian pharmacology textbook of 407 pages was published in 1871. This book consisted of two main parts. The ‘general part’ dealt with the concept of drugs, the factors influencing their effect, the correct selection of doses, the different routes of application and the rules of writing prescriptions. The ‘special part’ presented first the organic and then the inorganic medicinal substances and, as far as this was possible, grouped them on the basis of their pharmacodynamic properties. The textbook contained 306 prescription formulae.
After the death of Márton Galambos at a young age, Ferenc Varga, Professor of Surgery, was put in charge of teaching pharmacology as a deputy over a period of two years, after which Kálmán Czakó, Professor of Pathology, took over that task.
The Hungarian version of the famous 610-page veterinary pharmacology textbook written by E. Fröhner, a professor of veterinary medicine in Berlin, and previously issued also in several other languages, was published in 1892 in the excellent translation of István Rátz, Professor of Pathology. That textbook met even the highest scientific standards, and it continued to serve the Hungarian veterinary education successfully also after, according to the reformed curriculum drawn up by Ferenc Hutÿra, an independent department had been set up for the teaching of pharmacology (1896), and Gyula Magyary-Kossa was appointed as its professor and head.
The professor of medicine newly appointed as head of the Department, who thus became the first independent department head of veterinary pharmacology and toxicology in Hungary, first had to organize his institute. By 1900-1901 he had already equipped the institute with the most advanced instruments of his age, including an X-ray apparatus, a refractometer, a spectroscope, a spectrophotometer, a kymograph, and other devices indispensable for pharmacological studies and analyses. The so-called von Kossa reaction, used for the detection of calcium salts in histological sections by silver impregnation, is still well known in the international special literature. The new Department, which had just been separated from the Department of Pathology and was still responsible for the teaching of botany at that time, occupied the ground-floor rooms of the pavilion erected in 1891 on the Rottenbiller street premises for the Hungarian Royal State Institute of Bacteriology. An expansion became possible when the Institute of Bacteriology moved to the new building erected in Hungária boulevard (1899). Since that time, the entire building was used by the Department (Institute) of Pharmacology alone. In 1901, Gyula Magyary-Kossa published an excellent and unique textbook entitled ‘Prescription of Medicines’. The 379-page book, which contained 115 figures and 357 prescription formulae, was published also in Germany and had an extremely favourable reception among both veterinary and medical students. Professor Magyary-Kossa’s lectures and demonstrations were always delightful experiences for his students, and his great erudition and knowledge brought him an all-European reputation. In 1904, he published his work entitled ‘The Hungarian Veterinary Bibliography’, the ‘veterinary Szinnyei’. The shorter essays resulting from his work on the history of medicine and his multiple-volume book entitled ‘Hungarian Medical Relics’ represent indispensable sources even today. In 1920, Gyula Magyary-Kossa became a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In 1936, he stopped teaching and entirely devoted his time to medical history research. In his honour, the 3700-volume old book collection established at the Veterinary Science Library, Archives and Museum in 1984 was named ‘The Magyary-Kossa Historic Book Collection’. However, the satisfaction brought by the numerous social honours and international reputation attained by his elderly age was overshadowed by the fact that the Veterinary College lost its independence in 1934. Namely, this had the consequence that the Veterinary Faculty was allowed to maintain only 9 departments. At that time, Gyula Magyary-Kossa was 69 years old, the doyen of the teaching staff. In the 1935/1936 academic year he already led his institute as an emeritus professor, in the capacity of a deputy, ensuring its survival. He left the university in 1936 so that he could devote his remaining time entirely to medical history research.
The University Council entrusted Sándor Hasskó, Assistant Professor, Doctor of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, Honorary Lecturer, with the task of teaching pharmacology in the capacity of deputy lecturer in 1936. In the same year, he published a 344-page textbook of veterinary pharmacology and toxicology, which created quite a sensation with its experimental attitude, originality and phonetic writing style, but also caused a minor stir with its few technical errors. While continuing his chemotherapeutic research studies, Hasskó embarked on pursuing veterinary toxicology. He studied the health afflictions caused to animals by warfare gases, with especial focus on the protection of military horses against these gases. He published the results of his studies in a 60-page book (1937). In the subsequent year (1938), he published a 108-page collection of prescription formulae (‘Prescription Book for Veterinary Students and Veterinarians’), which was translated by, and published in, Croatian language by Rudolf Ganslmayer, a university professor in Zagreb. Sándor Hasskó was the initiator of convening and establishing the International Society for Veterinary Pharmacology (Société Internationale Pharmacologie Vétérinaire) in Zurich, became an Editorial Board member of the journal Tierärztliche Rundschau and was elected as member of the German Society for Pharmacology (Deutsche Pharmakologische Gesellschaft); in his home country he was appointed as an extraordinary member of the National Animal Health Council; in addition, he acted as permanent reviewer of the journals Berichte über wissenschaftliche Biologie and Berichte über Physiologie und experimentelle Pathologie. In 1937, the Turkish government invited him to take up the post of Department Head and Professor at the Department of Physiology of Pharmacology of the University of Ankara. When the permitted duration of his stay in Ankara expired, the executive board of ‘József Nádor’ University of Technology and Economics declared Professor Hasskó’s employment at the Department of Pharmacology as expired, and considered the Department Head’s post as vacant. In the year 1944, the second, revised edition of his detailed textbook of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology was published. In the very same year, during the siege of Budapest, when he, as a medical officer, was taking part in transporting the equipment of a military hospital to the rock cellar of Buda Castle, the Soviet troops shelling Buda hit his commander’s car while it was crossing the Chain Bridge. Sándor Hasskó fell victim to the war in 1944 at the young age of 39 years.
In 1940, the University Council entrusted Jenő Kovács, Royal Hungarian Chief Veterinarian, with the task of heading the Department of Pharmacology in the capacity of substitute teacher. Professor Jenő Kovács’s lifework was characterised by excellent teaching and educational work, outstanding scientific performance and intensive participation in professional and public activities. His high-standard, spirited lectures held in elaborate style and abundantly illustrated by chemical demonstrations and animal experiments captivated his students’ attention. All these attributes made Professor Kovács an outstanding lecturer of our University already at a young age. His highly prolific scientific activity was well known both in Hungary and abroad. His talent as a researcher was noticed very soon, and as a recognition of his scientific results achieved until then he was awarded the title ‘Academic Doctor of Veterinary Science’ (D.Sc.) already in 1952. He published more than 90 scientific papers encompassing a broad range of topics in pharmacology and toxicology. Special mention should be made of his research dealing with the prevention of iron deficiency disease in suckling piglets, the treatment of E. coli diarrhoea in calves and piglets, and the development of new chemotherapeutic agents. His prolific literary activity is hallmarked by two books: his Pharmacology textbook ran to three (1953, 1957, 1970), while his ‘Formulae Normales Veterinariae’ to two (1969, 1973) editions.
Following the retirement of Professor Jenő Kovács (1979), Associate Professor Ferenc Simon was appointed as Department Head, who led the Department as Full Professor from the year 1982. Professor Simon raised the institute to a level compatible with Western European standards in terms of teaching staff, language skills, research profile, instrumentation, information technology, and appearance. He established pharmacokinetic, isotope, biochemistry, electrotoxicology and microbiology laboratories and founded several new disciplines, as a result of which the new name of the teaching unit became Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. The most important fields of research conducted under Professor Simon’s direction included the development of new chemotherapeutic preparations, hepatoprotective agents, growth promotants, anticoccidials, immunostimulants and medicines to be used in the therapy of swine dysentery and mycoplasmosis. Professor Simon intensively studied the microelement requirements of domestic animals and the possibilities of meeting those demands. He was the author or co-author of 11 books and book chapters, 20 university lecture notes, 5 conference proceedings, 7 essays, 80 scientific and 12 educational papers, and participated in the elaboration of a total of 35 patents. To facilitate the progress of the new disciplines founded by him, he wrote, jointly with his co-authors, the lecture notes entitled ‘Veterinary Toxicology’, ‘The Basics of Radiotoxicology’ and ‘Food Chemistry and Biochemistry’. Ferenc Simon regularly participated in the postgraduate training of candidates of veterinary science and veterinarians specialising in toxicology and also in broadening the veterinary medical knowledge of pharmacists, veterinarians and food chemists. He gave lectures at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Semmelweis University of Medicine, and his influence was instrumental in achieving that ‘veterinary pharmacognosy’ was introduced as a new subject at the faculties of pharmaceutical science. He was the initiator of the conference series named ‘Itinerary Congresses of Veterinary Toxicology’ and ‘National Conferences of Veterinary Pharmacists’, and he organised both events on four occasions each. He made about 40 presentations in 30 countries in German, Spanish, English and Russian language. In addition to directing the work of the Department, he conducted wide-ranging organising and scientific activity both in Hungary and on international level.
In 1991, the Senate of the University entrusted Gábor Semjén, Senior Research Fellow with the direction of the Department in the capacity of Acting Department Head. In 1992 he received his permanent appointment as Department Head, in 1993 he became a habilitated professor and 1994 he was appointed Full Professor. As a Department Head, Gábor Semjén considered it very important to supply the undergraduates, in addition to the oral lectures, also with written materials. Therefore, with his co-authors he wrote and, following the recent advances of science, revised and updated the practical lecture notes ‘Veterinary Pharmacology Volumes I and II’, ‘Prescription of Veterinary Medicines’ and ‘Veterinary Pharmacology Practices’. The ‘Veterinary Vademecum’ (1993), the 3rd edition of ‘Formulae Normales Veterinariae’ (1999) and ‘VetIndex 2005’ were published under his guidance and with his contributions. In order to expand the research projects pursued at the Department and to increase its scientific recognition, Gábor Semjén established the GLP Laboratory and Animal House Unit. His scientific activity was focused on pharmacological and toxicological research, and he paid particular attention to studying the effects and efficacy of different antibacterial active compounds and to surveying the antibiotic resistance situation in Hungary. His prolific literary activity is hallmarked by more than 110 scientific papers published in Hungarian and international journals. In the period between 1997 and 2007, he acted as Vice-Rector for Education and then as Deputy Dean.
After Gábor Semjén’s retirement in 2007, Professor Péter Gálfi took over the post of Department Head. Together with his co-workers, Péter Gálfi published and personally edited the textbooks Veterinary Pharmacology Volume I (2010), Volume II (2011) and Volume III (2012). At present, veterinary pharmacology and veterinary toxicology are taught at the Department as main compulsory subjects. Optional subjects include pharmacotherapy, adverse effects, and alternative veterinary medicine. The research activity of the Department is closely linked with the disciplines of applied pharmacology and toxicology, and encompasses the following fields: molecular aspects of pharmacology; alternatives to the use of antibiotics; study of prebiotics and probiotics; pharmacokinetic and drug metabolism studies in vivo (in animal experiments) and in vitro (in cell cultures); target animal safety and efficacy tests of new medicines; acute and subacute toxicology tests on laboratory animals; study of the development and spread of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. In vitro studies in cell cultures constitute an important field of research activity conducted at the Department, as these models are suitable for replacing some of the live animal experiments. We study the effect of medicines on the transcription of cytochrome P450 enzymes using primary hepatocyte cultures, and the possible protective effect of certain probiotic microbes and their metabolic products in inflammatory processes caused by oxidative stress using porcine intestinal epithelial cell cultures. The objective of further research is to establish a co-culture cell model consisting of differentiated porcine intestinal epithelial cells (IPEC-J2) and primary hepatocytes. We wish to use this model for studying the effect of microbial lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and reactive oxygen compounds on inflammatory mediators produced by epithelial cells and on the activity of cytochrome P450 enzymes that play a key role in the metabolism of xenobiotics and medicines by hepatocytes. In harmony with the teaching principles of the Department, the undergraduates closely co-operate with the Department’s staff in the research activities.