„Students and educators can profit from American connections”

27 December 2023

A delegation of three has travelled to the USA and Canada in October to maintain pre-existing cooperations and start new connections. Dr. Miklós Nyitrai, professor and dean of the Pécs Medical School, dr. Péter Kanizsai docent, head of the UP Clinical Centre Department of Emergency Medicine and dr. Gábor Horváth adjunct, newly elected president of the UP MS International Relations Committee as of the beginning of July, 2023, have travelled to Houston, Boston, Sarasota and Toronto, and participated in discussions and programs that could benefit students and teachers in the near future.


written by Rita Schweier


“Building connections with the USA started decades before. The negotiations in 2019 were an important step in this process: this is when we – dr. Dóra Reglődi vice-dean, Péter Maróti and József Farkas – had discussions with the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School, the Methodist Hospital and Biomedical Engineering Center in Houston. As a result, dr. Krisztina Fischer, professor of the Harvard Medical School held education development courses here in Pécs and our relationship with dr. Akay Metin, one of the most important figures of healthcare engineering at the University of Houston, got deeper – he was made honorary professor of the University of Pécs this year. Dr. Éva Morava, professor of the Mayo Clinic became a teacher here, and two of our excellent students were able to go to the Mayo Clinic for research practice in the summer” – said dr. Miklós Nyitrai about previous events.

Dr. Gábor Horváth explained that American connections have a long history when it comes to exchange practices too; the Pécs Medical School has participated in the exchange programs of the Hungarian Medical Association of America for over two decades. At first students could go to Buffalo, then in the last five or six years to Houston, and since six or seven years to New York and Los Angeles; and now they can have research practice at the previously mentioned Mayo Clinic. The latter is important because they also train researchers, not just clinicians.

“During our most recent Autumn trip, we paid attention to research cooperations as well, aside from student and teacher exchange programs. Students of biomedical engineering or even general medicine students who conduct research in a similar area could go to Houston in the future. We have been and are still working on strengthening and expanding our cooperation with every university we had an exchange program with previously. If we have worked together in clinical work, we will now focus on research. This is usually easier, since the administration is less strict” – added the director of the International Relations Committee.

During their trip to the US, the delegation from Pécs discussed the expansion of cooperation with Professor Dr. Metin Akay at the Biomedical Engineering Center in Houston, where they also listened to the reports of the renowned expert's researchers. At the Houston Methodist Hospital, Dr. Zsolt Garami, president of the Hungarian Medical Association of America and his staff were their hosts, and a series of discussions with them, including Hungarian students working and living in the field, took place in a good atmosphere and provided valuable information. They also managed to conclude an agreement with them to promote the development of robotic surgery in the faculty over the next year or two. At the beginning of next year, the people of Pécs will also have the opportunity to gain an insight into the workings of the innovation centre in Austin, which is beginning to take over the role of Silicon Valley. As the future plans of the Pécs Medical Faculty include exciting research directions, they also visited NASA. In Boston, they visited the emergency department of the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, where they discussed the opportunities for cooperation in undergraduate and postgraduate training, professional training, research and student exchange programmes. They offered to host two students from Pécs in 2024 as part of an exchange programme, so sixth-year students can apply for the programme. At the Harvard Medical School, the students were hosted by Professor Krisztina Fischer, with whom they discussed the educational system and methodology of the two universities, their similarities and differences. In Sarasota, they participated in the annual conference of the Hungarian American Medical Association, where all three of them gave presentations.

“We have arrived in Boston at the Emergency Department of the University of Massachusetts on the invitation of professor Greg Volturo, the head of the department. We have known each other for some years now. As a result of our meeting guest lecturer and exchange student programs might start between the Pécs and Boston emergency departments, and even the presence of clinicians and clinical workers as observers could be realised. As the first step, a professor will arrive in Pécs to deliver a lecture and oversee a workshop” – said dr. Péter Kanizsai about the visit.

He added, that even though modern emergency medicine has older tradition in America than in Hungary, their viewpoints are present here as well. Their funding and provision are much larger than ours, about four times the size, and the number of patients is about double. The system is different, but it can be learnt from. While they use the American triage system, we use an adapted, Hungarian version of the Canadian system.

“The yearly, 54th conference of the Hungarian Medical Association of America happened with 120 participants, and there were 79 lectures. Most of the participants work in the US, or were born there, but keep in contact with Hungarian doctors. Discussions are multidisciplinary, therefore multiple fields are represented, and students can also attend during their practices – they can talk about their undergraduate research results. Those living in the US find being informed about where Hungarian research and healthcare is important, and for us it is useful to see which fields our US colleagues chose and what they can achieve. There are researchers, who have an undergraduate research student in Hungary, so the connection is maintained by shared work, and is even strengthened through the conference each year” – said dr. Gábor Horváth, who delivered a lecture about a new, never before used method in child oncology. Dr. Péter Kanizsai – president of the the Hungarian contingent of the Hungarian Medical Association of America since July 24, 2023 – has talked about the future of emergency care with the spread of artificial intelligence. Our dean has spoken about the system of services related to students and workers, the Well-Being Concert, part of the POTEPillars strategic plan.

They have emphasized that participation in the conference is important, because it is an opportunity to have conversations and exchanges of views for multiple days with other experts from the field, and also the leadership of Hungarian healthcare, who also find their participation important.

“We have contacted Hungarian doctors working in Canada a year ago in order to build cooperation. This was put on paper now. The Hungarian Canadian Business Association has multiple Hungarian doctors in their ranks, who would like to form their own association. Our goal is to allow graduate students, residents and young doctors to travel there and gain more experience. We are working on building a support system for this with shared funding”dr. Gábor Horváth said in summary about the results of his visit to the Canadian Hungarian Business Association.


Dávid VERÉBI, Miklós NYITRAI and Gábor HORVÁTH