Tamas L. Horvath, D.V.M., Ph.D., associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, and associate professor of neurobiology, has been named chair of the Section of Comparative Medicine. Horvath takes over from Robert O. Jacoby, D.V.M., Ph.D., who has led the section since 1978.

Comparative Medicine, founded in 1965 and made a free-standing section in 1973, conducts infectious disease research and provides veterinary services for animals used in research. However, during his long tenure, Jacoby oversaw the creation of the Yale Animal Resources Center as an independent administrative entity within the section devoted to animal care, and the section has since been refashioning itself to become a predominantly academic enterprise.

Horvath followed his father and grandfather into veterinary medicine in his native Hungary, but his training sparked a passion for basic research. He is an expert on the hypothalamus, the brain region that regulates such basic functions as reproductive behavior, eating, biological rhythms and the body’s hormonal responses to stress.

Horvath says his intellectual history mirrors that of the section he will head. “I came here as a veterinarian into the medical school, so personally I had to go through the same transition to become a full-blown academic researcher,” he says. “That’s the sort of philosophy that I would like to translate now to Comparative Medicine, to make this section in the next couple of years an even more integral component of the academic life of the medical school.”

At a reception to mark his new appointment, Horvath said, “It really is an honor and a privilege to follow in the footsteps of Bob [Jacoby]. It’s going to be a major challenge for me to fill his shoes.”

Jacoby says that Horvath’s background is well suited to the section’s 21st-century mission. “Ten or 15 years ago it was tilted toward diseases of laboratory animals. You’re going to see much more attention paid to mechanisms of human diseases expressed in animal models,” Jacoby says, adding that he expects Horvath to strike “the right balance between the section’s regulatory and health care mandates with the need to keep Yale’s research at the forefront.”