In addition to the inauguration of the PhD students, a number of awards were also presented at the Dies Academicus ceremony, including certificates of appreciation and silver medals awarded on the occasion of the School of PhD Studies’ 30th anniversary. At the festive senate meeting held in the Banquet Hall of the Theoretical Block in Nagyvárad square, the excellent instructors of the doctoral program were awarded, the Pro Universitate Awards, the Semmelweis University Association of Friends’ Outstanding Doctoral Student Awards, and the Genersich Foundation Awards were also presented. In addition, the titles of honorary university associate professor, honorary university professor and master educator were awarded, and management appointments were handed over.

“By completing your PhD studies, you not only fulfilled your own dream – but also contributed to the strengthening of the discipline of medicine and health sciences and to the enhancement of our university’s reputation and the fulfillment of our vision. You are the keys to making our institution glorious not only for the past 250 years, but also for the next quarter of a millennium,” said Dr. Béla Merkely, Rector of Semmelweis University, at the Dies Academicus festive senate meeting. He then continued to say that as glorious as our past is, our present is just as successful, and our future is hopeful. In addition to recalling the traditions, he emphasized that Semmelweis University is currently the best higher education institution in Hungary and Central and Eastern Europe, which is considered unique in the world in the field of medicine and health sciences, and, according to the Rector, the position achieved in the Times Higher Education university ranking means that the institution belongs to the best one percent globally.

He mentioned that this many new students have never started their studies as in this academic year, and more than ever before, 5,100 international students from 115 countries are attending the university. In addition to the infrastructural investments and renovations to support the development of the university, he mentioned the expanding and strengthening international teaching and research collaborations with 200 universities around the world – including collaborations with the University of Singapore, the University of Heidelberg and Harvard Medical School – and that our scientific relationship with both newly awarded Hungarian Nobel Prize-winning scientists is active and ongoing. Dr. Katalin Karikó was recently honored with the Semmelweis Budapest Award, the most prestigious university award, and Dr. Ferenc Krausz will implement a research plan he started 4 years ago together with Semmelweis University. He also mentioned the emergence of the traumatological profile as of historical importance. In his greeting, he pointed out that on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of doctoral education, the university will recognize with a new award the decades of activity of colleagues who have completed outstandingly successful academic careers for the sake of doctoral education. Speaking to the doctors who obtained the PhD degree, he said:

The title you have received today is not just a professional recognition – it is also a testament to human excellence. Continue the research you have begun and continue to explore the unknown by looking for new areas!

After the ceremonial oath, the fresh PhD-level doctorate holders were conferred by Dr. Béla Merkely and Dr. Zoltán Benyó, President of the Doctoral Council with a handshake. In 2023, a total of 182 candidates completed their doctoral work: 162 received their diplomas with summa cum laude, 18 with cum laude and two with rite. Click here to read the list of newly awarded doctorates.

Today is a special graduation ceremony: on the one hand, it is the first time in the history of our university that so many people, 182, can receive their PhD diplomas at the same time, and on the other hand, we are also celebrating the 30th anniversary of the doctoral program, with the professors who founded the School of PhD Studies and worked for its growth, said in his greeting Dr. Zoltán Benyó, President of the Doctoral Council. He recalled how significant a moment it was for the fulfillment of university autonomy when, in 1993, the university took over the right to award academic degrees from the Scientific Qualification Committee, as this created the basis for the fulfillment of freedom of scientific thought.

“Expanding the range of our PhDs is a key issue in terms of our supply of researchers and educators, our scientific performance and excellence,” stated Dr. Zoltán Benyó.

In recent years, the number of PhD students has been steadily increasing, in the 2023/24 academic year it already exceeded a thousand in 50 doctoral programs.

He went on to say that the doctoral training is the highest level of higher education, doctoral students are among the best graduate students, and as an instructor it is a special pleasure to watch how a beginner TDK student becomes a researcher with a PhD degree, an equal partner in thinking, the next researcher from a student becomes the professor of generations, and many continue their work as citizens of the university. “By awarding the PhD degree, the Doctoral Council certifies that you are suitable for independent scientific work. Take advantage of this opportunity, so consider today as a beginning, use the knowledge you have acquired and the authorization that comes with your diploma to unravel the mysteries of nature and humanity, and use your abilities for the benefit of your fellow humans!”, added Dr. Zoltán Benyó.

The event continued with the presentation of awards and prizes. For the 20th time now, the university has recognized lecturers who do outstanding work in the doctoral training. This year, seven received the “Excellent PhD Instructor” award, five of whom received it from the rector and the president of the Doctoral Council:

  • Dr. András Arató, university professor, Regular Member of the Semmelweis University Károly Rácz Doctoral School of Clinical Medicine, Head of the Prevention of Chronic Diseases in Childhood program,
  • Dr. Anna Blázovics, university professor, lecturer at the Károly Rácz Doctoral School of Clinical Medicine at Semmelweis University, director of the Department of Pharmacognosy at Semmelweis University between 2009-2014 and supervisor of the doctoral program on the study of diabetes mellitus and its complications, as that of the etiological and genetic factors of liver diseases since 1993,
  • Dr. Miklós Csala, university professor, Regular Member of the Semmelweis University Doctoral School of Molecular Medicine, Supervisor of the Pathobiochemistry program,
  • Dr. Henriette Farkas, university professor, Regular Member of the Semmelweis University Doctoral School of Theoretical and Translational Medicine, lecturer of the Vascular Pathophysiology/Atherosclerosis program. (She will receive her award later.)
  • Dr. Tibor Krenács, research professor, Regular Member of the Semmelweis University Doctoral School of Pathological Sciences, Supervisor of the Molecular and Experimental Oncology program,
  • Dr. Péter Lakatos, university professor, Regular Member of Semmelweis University’s Doctoral School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, head of the Molecular Genetics, Pathomechanism and Clinical Aspects of Metabolic Disorders program at the Károly Rácz Doctoral School of Clinical Medicine. (He will be handed his award later), and
  • Dr. Szabolcs Várbíró, university professor, Regular Member of the Semmelweis University Doctoral School of Theoretical and Translational Medicine, instructor of the Mechanisms of the Normal and Pathologic Functions of the Circulatory System program, supervisor of the Károly Rácz Doctoral School of Clinical Medicine.

The School of Phd Studies commemorated the 30-year anniversary of its operation and honored the activities of those who contributed to its development in the past decades with a certificate of recognition and a silver medal.

On the occasion of the anniversary, Rector Emeritus Dr. Péter Sótonyi, first President of the Doctoral Council said:

At our university, scientific work and performance are of decisive importance, and the School of PhD Studies was also built on this

Recalling the beginnings, he mentioned that due to the lack of previous experience in Hungary, it was a challenge to figure out how the doctoral school should function. After several rounds of consultation with the temporary accreditation committee, the regulations of the doctoral school of Semmelweis University were the first among Hungarian universities to be adopted. According to him, it gives him great pleasure that many doctoral students from that time are still working at the university as lecturers and researchers. At the same time, he thanked all those who have worked and continue to work for the successful operation of the doctoral school since then – especially Dr. László Kopper, who as his successor gave new impetus to the institution.

Dr. Ágoston Szél, Rector Emeritus, President of the Doctoral Council from 2004-2009, looking back at the beginnings, pointed out that while Professor Péter Sótonyi and as presidential advisor Dr. Gábor Makara were involved in the development of the theoretical foundations of training organization, Dr. László Kopper proved to be extremely successful in practical implementation as vice president. He mentioned as a defining moment of his career when he received an invitation to participate in the work of the doctoral school in 1994: he had to refer the submitted evaluations before the Doctoral Council issued them for official evaluation. But it quickly became clear to him that for one person it was impossible to screen the ever-increasing number of applications submitted, and this led to the establishment of the Quality Improvement and Assessment Committee, which still operates today. He also recalled that, at the request of Professor Kopper, he later undertook the management of the doctoral school. Among his fond memories, he mentioned that during his leadership, it happened 3-4 times that the Republic Award Ring presented to distinguished students from all levels of university education was personally handed over by then Resident of Hungary, László Sólyom at the Dies Academicus events. He also thanked Emőke Márton, who was the head of the doctoral secretariat for several presidential terms, playing a serious mediating role between the school’s leaders, supervisors and doctoral students.

The diploma and the commemorative medal were handed over to the recipients by Rector Dr. Béla Merkely and Dr. Zoltán Benyó. You can find the list of awardees here.

The ceremony continued with the presentation of the awards. This year, eight people received the Pro Universitate Award from Rector Dr. Béla Merkely.

  • Dr. László Kopper, Former President of the Doctoral Council (EDT), Former Head of the Doctoral School of Pathological Sciences, Former Head of the Oncology Program, Regular Member Emeritus
  • Dr. Gábor Makara, Former Supervisor of the János Szentágothai Doctoral School of Neurosciences, Former Chairman of the Education Committee, Regular Member Emeritus
  • Dr. Péter Sótonyi, Rector Emeritus, First President of EDT, Former Head of the Doctoral Program in Population and Public Health, Regular Member Emeritus
  • Dr. László Rosivall, Rector Emeritus, Former President of the Doctoral School of Theoretical and Translational Medicine, Former President of the International Committee, Former Head of the Translational Kidney Research and Organ Transplantation Doctoral Program, Regular Member Emeritus
  • Dr. Ágoston Szél, Former President of the EDT, Former Chairman of the Quality Improvement and Assessment Committee, Former Program Manager of the Embryology, Stem Cell and Developmental Biology Doctoral Program, Regular Member Emeritus
  • Dr. József Tímár, Former President of the EDT, Supervisor of the Oncology Program, Regular Member Emeritus.

Since 2022, the Doctoral Council of Semmelweis University has recognized the several-decade-long work of the program leaders participating in the doctoral training with the honorary certificate of regular member emeritus/emerita after they have reached the age of 70. All of the outgoing program leaders participated in the organization of doctoral training from the very beginning, most of them were founders of the program they led, and their decades of work contributed significantly to the effective teaching and research activities in Semmelweis University’s doctoral schools. The diplomas were handed over by Dr. Zoltán Benyó to Dr. Pál Czobor and Dr. Gyula Poor.

This year, the Semmelweis University Association of Friends also awarded the presentation of the scientific results of the doctoral school, the scientific activities of the best PhD students or predoctoral fellows under the age of 35. This year, 21 applications were received for the Doctoral Student Excellence Award, four of which were recognized with the award, which the President of the School of PhD Studies and Dr. László Rosivall, Pesident of the Semmelweis University Association of Friends handed over to

  • Gábor Bedics (Department of Pathology and Experimental Cancer Research, Semmelweis University),
  • Viktória Halasy (Department of Anatomy, Histology, and Embriology, Semmelweis University),
  • Dr. Péter Pál Lakatos (Department of Pharmacodynamics, Semmelweis University) and
  • János Rokai (Institute of Natural Sciences Research Center, Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology).
László Entz Jr. accepts the posthumous prize awarded to his late father László Entz by the Antal Genersich Foundation.

The Dr. Antal Genersich Foundation, founded by the descendants of Former Rector Dr. Antal Genersich, awarded two students this year. Fanni Cziza, 4th-year general medicine student and Martin Orbán, 3rd-year general medicine student received their recognition from Rector Dr. Béla Merkely and Rector Emeritus Péter Sótonyi. Dr. Lóránt Magyar, also the Deputy Director of the Institute of Justice and Insurance Medicine, received the Medico-Legal Doctor Award from the foundation. The oncologist award of the Genersich Foundation was presented this year to Dr. Gábor Rubovszky, who could receive it from the Rector and Dr. Miklós Kásler, and the Academic Award was presented to Dr. Gyula Poór. The foundation gave a posthumous award to Dr. László Entz. The recognition was accepted by his son, László Entz Jr., who received it from Dr. Béla Merkely and Dr. Miklós Kásler.

At the ceremony, Rector Dr. Béla Merkely handed over the diplomas attesting the titles of honorary associate professor, honorary university professor, and master educator awarded by the Senate based on the proposal of the university faculties. Dr. Katalin Ganzler Barányi was appointed as honorary university associate professor. Dr. Krisztina Bogos’ educational work was recognized with the title of university professor. The master educator title was given to Dr. Tibor László Hetzman, Adrienn Pongrácz and Gábor Sebestyén.

Minister of Culture and Innovation, János Csák, awarded the Educational Service Memorial Medal on the occasion of Hungarian Higher Education Day to Professor Emeritus Dr. Elek Illés Dinya. The commemorative medal, at the request of the minister, was handed over by Dr. Béla Merkely.

At the ceremony, Dr.  József Sándor was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus from the Department of Surgical Research and Techniques, the rector handed over the certificate to him. Dr. György Reusz and Dr. Lajos András Szabó from the Pediatric Center received their Professor Emeritus title that was awarded to him previously on the occasion of the Semmelweis Day.

On the occasion of the National Holiday of March 15, 2023, the rector handed over the Semmelweis University Outstanding Employee award to Dr. Gergely Barna Balaton, from the Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics. Furthermore, Andrea Keresztély Barta (Department of Languages for Specific Purposes) and Dr. Zoltán Varga (Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy) were also handed their award that was previously announced on Semmelweis Day 2023.

The Outstanding Healthcare Professional of Semmelweis University was awarded earlier on Semmelweis Day, but his award was just handed over now by Dr. Béla Merkely and Dr. Attila Szabó, President of the Clinical Center, to Réka Kovács, from the Department of Surgery, Transplantation and Gastroenterology.

Before the closing of the ceremony, Robert Schumann/Liszt’s Widmung was performed by Hanna Máté, a student member of the Medic Orchestra at the Faculty of Medicine.

Melinda Katalin Kiss
Photo: Attila Kovács – Semmelweis University
Translation: Mária Sánta