With a single regulation, the Ministry of Health created the new "spirit" of the "place" in 1952, when it expanded the Eötvös Loránd Radium and X-Ray Institute on the former territory of the Siesta sanatorium into the National Institute of Oncology, thus, from the cradle of the Hungarian oncology, creating the centre of Hungarian oncology, its model institute. Not only did the change alter the structure and operation of the institute, but it also significantly affected the whole of the Hungarian fight against cancer and cancer treatment.
The treatment previously mainly characterized by a radiological aspect turned into a general and comprehensive oncology care, while an oncology network encompassing the whole of the country developed under the leadership of the Institute.
In 1952, according to the functions set down in its charter, the National Institute of Oncology became the epidemiological, organizational, methodological, treatment, research, and training centre for the Hungarian oncology care, which is still valid today. In order to tackle the task, a suitable structure satisfying contemporary requirements and taking advantage of contemporary opportunities had to be developed, and the foundations of Hungarian oncology had to be laid.
THE INSTITUTE BETWEEN 1952 AND 1971
After the National Institute of Oncology moved to its new location, the 300 beds initially available at the Institute slowly increased to 348. Although this number has not changed significantly ever since, in response to the challenges of our time, the structure of the clinical departments underwent changes on several occasions.
At the beginning of 1952, the clinical department of the National Institute of Oncology consisted of seven clinical inpatient departments: surgery (61 beds), gynaecology (65 beds), urology (49 beds), 1st department of radiology (57 beds), 2nd department of radiology (68 beds), department of internal medicine, and temporary post-treatment care. Apart from these, the Institute also included X-ray diagnostics, a central medical laboratory, outpatient care, a pathological and histological laboratory, a radiation physics and isotope laboratory, a pharmacy, and, last but not least, the methodological-organizational-statistical department, managing the countrywide network of oncology care centres. It was in the same complex that the Onco-pathological Research Institute (OPI) has been working in since 1954, which has always maintained strong organizational connections with the National Institute of Oncology. The Onco-pathological Research Institute, apart from the experimental research work, continued to support the clinical departments in autopsies and histopathology.
The comprehensive Institute thus established, has been one of the best-structured institutes with the best approach in and beyond Europe.
The first director of the Onco-pathological Research Institute (OPI) was Prof Béla Kellner (1954-1974).
During this period, OPI carried out its diagnostic and experimental activities within five departments (pathology, experimental morphology, experimental pharmacology, cellular biology, and biochemistry).
At the end of 1955, a separate outpatient care department was formed with the appointment of seven outpatient care consultants. This step eased the pressure on the rather overburdened physicians at the clinical departments.
Between 1959 and 1970, Dr János Vikol was the director-general of the Institute. He played a vital role in involving the Institute in the cancer control programmes of the World Health Organization (WHO), thereby laying the foundations for the exceptional international performance of the Institute. In 1966, Dr János Vikol was put in charge of heading the Cancer Control Section of the World Health Organization, which involved frequent visits abroad; therefore, the Institute was managed by Dr Iván Rodé as a temporary director in 1968.
The Institute between 1971 and 1992
In 1971, Prof Dr Sándor Eckhardt was appointed superintendent, which led to a number of changes in the operation of the institute. From 1971 onwards, the department of surgery (62 beds); the department of radiology with the radiation protection laboratory attached (63 beds); the department of internal medicine diagnostics and therapy, with the endoscope, haematological, and cytogenetical laboratory (62 beds); the department of gynaecology (59 beds); the department of onco-dermatology (24 beds); the isotope department (18 beds); the department of otorhinolaryngology (10 beds); the department of x-ray diagnostic; the polyclinics; the central medical laboratory; the department of radiation physics; the laboratory of radiation chemistry; the organizational-methodological and statistical department; the pharmacy; and the photograph laboratory operated in the institute. The diagnostic activities were carried out by the following departments: x-ray diagnostics, central laboratory, radiation chemistry, tumour pathology, and cytopathology. Cytopathology became a separate department in 1984. The structure of the institute has mirrored the development which allowed for the approximation of the European standards with regard to tumour treatment and research. The international recognition and integration of the National Institute of Oncology was significantly improved by the election of Prof Eckhardt as the president of UICC. It was under his leadership that the Diagnostic Block in the Institute was constructed. In 1986, he organized the 14th UICC International Congress on Cancer in Budapest. He is the corresponding member of several Academies abroad, and he holds an honorary doctorate from numerous universities (Moscow, New York, Ankara, Bologna, Berlin, and Rome). Currently he works as a consultant to the Institute and as the professor emeritus for the Semmelweis University of Medical Sciences. In 1971, parallel to the appointment of Prof Eckhardt as the director-general, the General Directorate of the National Institute of Oncology (OOI) came into existence, which led to the reorganization of the departments involved in scientific research, while significant organizational changes took place at the OOI. This relative organizational, material, and intellectual freedom proved inspirational for research, as a consequence of which, considerable development was noted in the subsequent decade.
The Institute between 1992 and 2006
In 1992, applications were invited for the vacancy of the superintendent of the National Institute of Oncology, which was filled by Prof Dr Miklós Kásler, with the unanimous support from the chosen electors of the Institute (9). The new director-general restructured the Institute with three centres in line with the three distinct fields of activities in the Institute. The Centre for Clinical Oncology was managed by Prof Dr György Németh director and Dr Károly Pólus and Dr István Bodrogi deputy directors.
The following departments have operated under the aegis of the Centre for Oncology Research:
molecular biology, biochemistry, experimental pharmacology, clinical experimental laboratory, immunology, cellular biology, patho-genetics, and tumour progression.
In 2002, the director general established a management structure, which was more suited to the constantly changing financing conditions and to the European norms. As a result, the centres as well as the director's and deputy director's functions were all abolished. The managers were appointed to undertake particular professional and administrative tasks. The managers comprised the human resources manager, the financing manager, the controlling manager, the research and development manager, clinical manager and the diagnostic manager.
It is the spectacular result of the international activities of Prof Kásler that Hungary could participate in the development of the European Code against Cancer (2004) and the National Cancer Control Programme work meetings organized by the UICC and WHO. Prof Kásler was the head of the Educational Team of the Organization of European Cancer Institutes; presently, he is assisting the international integration of the National Institute of Oncology as a member of the steering committee of the "European Alliance against Cancer". Upon his recommendation, the workers of the Institute represent Hungary in dozens of European bodies. The development (1993) and expansion (1997, 2005) of the Hungarian National Cancer Control Programme are both linked with the name of Miklós Kásler. He was appointed president of the National Programme against Cancer Council in February 2005.
In line with this function, it was Miklós Kásler who started the European harmonization of the Hungarian oncology care system. In 1986 he became the Candidate (Ph.D.) of Medical Sciences; between 1988 and 1990, he was a Humboldt scholar at the University of Erlangen. In 1994, he was appointed a full professor. His research interests include the effects of surgical lasers on tissues, their introduction into head-neck tumour surgery in Hungary, the expansion of radicality of head-neck tumour operations, and the complex therapy of head-neck tumours. He has published extensively: publications not counting abstracts (125), books (10), and book chapters (46). Between 1974 and 1981, he worked at the Surgical Clinic of Semmelweis University of Medical Sciences and at the National Institute of Oncology from 1981 onwards. In 1992, he applied for and won the application for the position of the superintendent at the National Institute of Oncology. Since 1994, he has been a full time professor and a head of department at several institutions (Haynal Imre University of Medical Sciences, Semmelweis University of Medical Sciences, University of Marosvásárhely). In 2010 he was awarded D.Sc. of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Prof Kásler is the president and the member of the governing bodies of a number of international organizations, including:
UICC for Middle Europe (1995-),
UICC-CCA Programme Committee (1994-1998);
Organisation of European Cancer Institutes 1992- (president, Education Committee 2002-);
Association of National Institutes (president, 1996-1997);
WHO National Cancer Control Program Committee (1992-1996; 2003-);
IARC Scientific Committee (2004-);
European Alliance against Cancer Steering Committee (2005-).
In 1995, Miklós Kásler was awarded the Springer award, in 1999 the Réthy memorial medal and the Krompecher memorial prize, in 2001 the Master memorial medal, in 2004 the Markusovszky award, in 2005 the Batthyány-Strattman award, and the memorial plaque of the World Council of Hungarian Professors (2006), and he received an honorary diploma and an honorary doctorate from the University of Marosvásárhely (2006). In 2007, he was awarded the Order of Merit Commander's Cross, in 2008 the Prima award, and the Markusovszky award in 2008 and in 2010.