Offical news of the Medical School - Thursday, 26 November, 2015

In memoriam Professor Dr. Geza J. Jako

Professor Dr. Geza J. Jako was a world famous surgeon, physician scientist, professor, inventor, educator.  He was the inventor of soft tissue microsurgery, laser surgery, modern techniques of minimally invasive surgery, and a White House Advisor for Cancer to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.  He passed away on November 1st. He was 85.

Dr. Jako was born in Budapest,  in 1930 and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Semmelweis Medical University in 1954.  He became interested in the field of Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Surgery, as his maternal grandfather, Professor Geza Krepuska, the first chairman of Otology at the Semmelweis Medical University.  

As a "Freedom Fighter" during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution against the occupying Soviet Union, Dr. Jako organized the ambulance and medical emergency service, after which he was forced to escape the Communist backlash.  His former hospital in Budapest, Péterfy Sándor Street Hospital, is now recognized as the "Hospital of the 1956 Revolution". In 2000 he was recognized for his efforts with a Hungarian Knighthood.

Dr. Jako arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1957.  He completed his specialty training in ENT, Head and Neck Surgery at Harvard Medical School and later served on the faculty.  

In 1962, he developed the first microsurgical instruments for the surgical treatment of the vocal cords and throat cancer.  In the same year, he established a private practice in a northern suburb of Boston, Melrose, while continuing to operate in Boston hospitals.  

In the late-1960s, he moved to Boston University School of Medicine (BU). While at BU, he used the first surgical carbon dioxide laser that he and his physicist friend, Dr. Thomas Polanyi+, developed.  Within a short period of time, Dr. Jako had demonstrated that the laser is suited to the treatment of a wide range of head and neck lesions, and he promoted the wider use of lasers in "all" medical disciplines with special emphasis on cancer treatment.  

In 1973, he was appointed Professor and Director of Research at BU.  He received a Professorship at Northeastern University in Boston, and was Senior Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In the 1970s, he spent two four-year terms in top advisory positions at the National Institutes of Health.

In 1984, Dr. Jako published the new concept for computer-assisted, image-guided surgical planning and therapy.  

Dr. Jako was a Founding Member, of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. He was an honorary member of numerous international and domestic medical societies, and received several international and domestic awards. Dr. Jako is recognized as "the father of laser surgery".

He was an early supporter and member to the Hungarian Society of Massachusetts. Dr. Jako was elected to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2001.  

Over his career, Dr. Jako generated over 150 publications including textbook chapters and seven US patents relating to Minimally Invasive, Micro and Laser Surgery. There are over 120 surgical instruments bearing his name. Dr. Jako is especially known for his endoscopic instruments.

Dr. Jako was also an avid philanthropist where he donated medical instruments and assisted in renovating operating suites outside the US.  

He is survived by his loving wife of 50 years Maria M. (Gal) von Jako, and his three children; Dr. Ronald A. von Jako, Cynthia M. von Jako, Dr. Christopher R. von Jako.


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