History of the Department of Organic Chemistry

After the repairs of damages caused by the air raids of World War II, education and scientific work started again at the University of Debrecen. Professor Béla Tankó (1905-1974) coordinated the reorganization of chemistry teaching, and in cooperation with others, had an outstanding role in the establishment of the Faculty of Science and in the frame of this, the Department of Organic Chemistry. Since the renovation of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry was not finished, in 1947 Professor Tankó offered a part of his mansion at Simonyi street 4 for housing the new department. He was the head of the Department until 1950, when Professor Rezső Bognár (1913-1990), a former student of Professor Géza Zemplén (1883-1956) was invited to lead the Department. Meanwhile the Department moved to the Central Building of the University and, after completion of the Chemistry Building in 1969, it was relocated to its present place. In 1961, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences founded the Research Group for Antibiotic Chemistry which was led by Professor Bognár until 1988. The Research Group worked in close cooperation with the Department.

In 1979, Professor Sándor Makleit, whose research activity was focused on alkaloid chemistry and who was Professor Bognár’s colleague, was appointed to become head of the Department. He was followed by Professor Sándor Antus in 1992 whose research on flavanoid chemistry ensured continuity of the scientific heritage of Professors Zemplén and Bognár. In 2008 Professor Tamás Patonay, with a main research focus on the synthesis of O-, and N-heterocycles and development and application of new organic synthetic methodology, was appointed as a head of the Department.

In 2015, after the sudden decease of Professor Patonay, Professor László Somsák became the head of the Department. His main research activity is concentrated on the synthesis of biologically active carbohydrate derivatives, glycoenzyme inhibitors and potential antidiabetics.

The staff of the Department of Organic Chemistry provides bachelor and master courses of organic chemistry for students with chemistry, chemical engineering and bioengineering as their majors, as well as related laboratory practices complemented by courses on spectroscopy and structural elucidation and other optional theoretical and practical subjects. The Department is also heavily involved in the education of pharmacy and ecology majors, teacher students and several other specializations with chemistry as a minor field.

The doctoral program ’Chemistry and Chemical Biology of Carbohydrates and Heterocycles’ of the Doctoral School of Chemistry of the University of Debrecen is mainly based on the research work of the Department of Organic Chemistry.