Dr. Kalman T. Kovacs is Emeritus Professor of Pathology, University of Toronto, Scientist Emeritus,
St. Michael's Hospital Research Institute, former Staff Pathologist and founding Director of the
Electron Microscopy Laboratory and Immunohistochemistry Laboratory, Department of Laboratory Medicine
and Pathobiology at St. Michael's Hospital, a major teaching hospital affiliated with the University
of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Born in Szeged, Hungary, he attended the University of Szeged where as a medical student, his interest
in research started with his internship with the Department of Pathology. At the University of Szeged
Dr. Kovacs met his wife, Dr. Eva Horvath, Ph.D., his lifelong partner, research collaborator and a
major driving force in his successful career as an endocrine pathologist and researcher. Upon
receiving his M.D. from the University of Szeged, he continued to work in the Department of Pathology
where he performed research, autopsy and surgical pathology. After a few years, he moved to the
Department of Medicine, where he was trained as a clinical endocrinologist. It soon became evident
that research, coupled with diagnostic endocrine pathology, was where his greatest interests lay.
Dr. Kovacs left Hungary when he received a fellowship from the University of Liverpool in England,
where he studied under Dr. Harold Sheehan, a world renowned scientist, pathologist and mentor and
subsequently earned his Ph.D. Due in a large part to Professor Sheehan's tutelage, his passion for
endocrine pathology grew. Whilein England, Dr. Kovacs received cross-appointments as a Crosby
Research Fellow and a Research Fellow of the Friends of the Radium Institute.
In 1968, Dr. Kovacs was invited to Canada as a visiting scientist to carry out research at the
Department of Experimental Medicine and Surgery, University of Montreal under Dr. Hans Selye, a
superb teacher and researcher. After a few years in Montreal, Dr. Kovacs was asked to come to St.
Michael's Hospital in Toronto as a staff pathologist and assistant professor under Dr. Roderick Ross,
then the Department Chief. Once at St. Michael's, he introduced immunohistochemistry to the
Department and undertook the building of the Electron Microscopy Laboratory and was its Director for
the next 16 years. In 1980, Dr. Kovacs was promoted to the rank of Professor of Pathology at the
University of Toronto. Once at St. Michael's, Dr. Kovacs' involvement in endocrine research
increased exponentially, and the endocrine pathology group he started has since gained worldwide
recognition as the standard of diagnostic pathology for pituitary tumors, his main interest and
passion. Over the years, Dr. Kovacs has amassed collection of in excess of 10,000 pituitary tumors
from prestigious hospitals all over the world, which have been forwarded for consultative diagnoses.
His intimate and detailed knowledge of endocrine pathology and the classification of pituitary tumors
has led to the creation of a worldwide classification system currently in use by the World Health
The recipient of numerous awards, medals and lectureships, Dr. Kovacs’ research efforts have produced
many peer-reviewed published papers, books and book chapters. His extensive knowledge of endocrine
structure-function correlation have led to invitations to lecture at Universities and hospitals
worldwide, legal opinions, work with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, as well as the participation
in the evaluation of many pharmaceutical clinical trials. Dr. Kovacs has served on the editorial
board of many major medical journals, and is the founding editor of the journal “Endocrine Pathology”.
He was invited to write the pituitary fascicle for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and has
published the book “Functional Endocrine Pathology”. Dr. Kovacs has been blessed with the continuing
support of not only his technical staff, but of two charitable organizations. The Jarislowsky
Foundation and the Lloyd-Carr Harris Foundation, whose longstanding support of research have enabled
the continuation of endocrine pathology research at St. Michael’s Hospital.
Teaching, lecturing and stimulating residents, researchers and post-doctoral fellows is a privilege
which has always held a special place in Dr. Kovacs’ heart. Young medical students, post-graduates
and doctoral students from all over the world have come to St. Michael’s to be trained under Dr.
Kovacs and to receive specialized technical training in electron microscopy and immunochemistry. His
relationship with his students and his style of teaching are characterized by openness, friendliness
and a complete lack of selfishness. He is always ready to share his vast knowledge and experience,
inspiring and encouraging his many associates to work hard in order for them to succeed. Many of Dr.
Kovacs’ former students have moved on to hold prestigious posts with internationally recognized
medical institutions. It is the success of his former students which further enhances his enjoyment
Although his primary professional focus is pituitary pathology, he also has a keen interest in history
and philosophy. Over the course of his career, Dr. Kovacs has visited art galleries all over the
globe and has collected a large number of photographs of paintings depicting various endocrine
diseases throughout the ages. Travel remains Dr. Kovacs’ undeclared passion. He loves to visit new
countries, meet new people and to immerse himself in their culture, music and customs. It has been
said that his vast collection of pituitary tumors is rivaled only by his air miles collection.
Keeping track of where in the world he is at any given time is a challenge.
Dr. Kovacs remains intensely loyal to St. Michael’s Hospital. Despite retirement from active duties
in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, he continues to provide consultative
services to the Department, as well as other Hospitals and Universities. His research activities
continue at a feverish pace, with more than one project on the go at any one time. His plan is to
continue research, to continue working and to continue learning.
“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.”
This biosketch was compiled and written by Dr. Kovacs’ long time friend and associate, Mark Moreland.
Robert Louis Stevenson