Leaders and workers of the university and the faculty celebrated the 70th birthday of Dr. István Gera, the former dean of the Faculty of Dentistry (FOK), who pioneered periodontology education in Hungary and under whose leadership the first and only independent Department of Periodontology was set up in 1997. In response to the greetings, the professor said that he considers himself a happy man as he was always able to do what he loved and he was always surrounded by great people.
First to greet Dr. István Gera was Dr. Gábor Gerber, the current dean of the faculty and the event’s host, who listed some awards that Dr. Gera received during his career, including the Árkövy Commemorative Medal, the Memorial Plaque for Hungarian Higher Education, the Pro Universitate Award, the Hungarian Order of Merit Knight’s Cross (civilian), and the Jolán Bánóczy memorial medal and award. Dr. István Gera is a member of several Hungarian and international associations: he was president of the Hungarian Dental Association, a secretary of the Hungarian Society of Periodontology, a member of the Hungarian Higher Education Accreditation Committee, and an accredited lecturer of the World Dental Federation’s (FDI) Continuing Education Programme, listed Dr. Gábor Gerber. He is well-known on an international level and is the first representative of Hungarian periodontology, said the dean, noting that Dr. István Gera has been an active citizen of Semmelweis University for more then 50 years.
Returning from the United States, Dr. István Gera was the first in Hungary to perform corrective and aesthetic pre-prosthetic surgeries as well as certain after-care procedures, said rector Dr. Béla Merkely in his greeting remarks. He continued that Dr. Gera’s name is linked to the introduction of modern periodontics to Hungary, and that it was with his leadership that Semmelweis University’s Department of Periodontology was established, which today has one of the most comprehensive resident programs in Europe in its field. Dr. István Gera was dean of the Faculty of Dentistry from 2004 to 2010, was also a member of the university’s Senate over several terms and is a dominant figure of not just the university, but the entire Hungarian dentistry profession, emphasized Dr. Béla Merkely. He noted that his reputation, knowledge and excellent skills as a lecturer were recently recognized with the awarding of the title of professor emeritus.
Dr. Ágoston Szél, rector emeritus, talked of some personal memories related to Dr. István Gera, including his role in the university’s public life, the times they spent together at senate meetings, and the sweeping speeches he made at FOK’s graduation ceremonies. He noted that they still work together at present in two university bodies: the presidency of the Election Committee and the Semmelweis Society of Professors.
Dr. Péter Hermann, vice-rector for education and the director of the Department of Prosthodontics, said that Dr. István Gera brought home from the United States a kind of knowledge and attitude that was considered truly unique at the time. He recalled that he was a mentee of Dr. Gera as a PhD student, later worked under him as vice-dean, and also took part together in various international scientific events. He also showed some old photos of Dr. Gera’s family, including his father István Gera, who was a tenor at the Hungarian Opera House.
Several other peers and co-workers, as well as some students of Dr. István Gera spoke at the event, recalling personal memories and praising his career and life. These included Dr. József Mandl, professor emeritus of the Department of Medical Chemistry, Molecular Biology and Pathobiochemistry, Dr. Péter Windisch, director of the Department of Periodontics, and Dr. Dániel Palkovics, a resident who greeted Dr. Gera in the name of the students.
“I am a happy man, because I always able to do what I loved and was always surrounded by fantastic people,” said Dr. István Gera in response to the greetings he received. He noted that his life was filled with lucky coincidences, including going to the same secondary school with Dr. János Gerle, who is now the director of the FOK Training Center. He attended university from 1967 to 1972, he loved studying, and only received one “4” mark (equivalent to a B), in pathology. He added that together with his wife, they won pathology competitions twice.
In his birthday lecture, he mentioned several people and peers who had an effect on him, among others Dr. Tibor Donáth, Dr. Géza Egervári, Dr. Jolán Bánóczy, Dr. Anna Kádár, Dr. Béla Berényi and Dr. Orsolya Rigó. The start of periodontics in Hungary was a symposium held in 1976 in Gödöllő, he recalled. He talked about the years he spent at the University of Connecticut (1983-85, 1986-88), where he completed his licensing exam and started researching periodontics. Dr. István Gera also spoke about the beginnings of the Department of Periodontology from 1997, praised the faculty’s past deans and thanked his colleagues as well as his mother, who raised him on her own for most of his childhood.
At the end of the celebration, in the name of the faculty Dr. Gábor Gerber presented Dr. István Gera with a gilded periodontal probe on the occasion of his 70th birthday.
Translation: Tamás Deme
Photo: Attila Kovács – Semmelweis University