COMENIUS University (UK) in Bratislava has awarded microbiologist Ján Vilček with an honorary degree. He joins a roster of honourees including UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the 14th Dalai Lama and Nobel Prize laureate Tnezen Gyatso.

Vilček was born in Bratislava in 1933. In 1957, he graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of the local Comenius University, and in 1965 he emigrated to the US where he started working at the School of Medicine of New York University.

His work brought advances in the treatment of arthritis and chronic inflammatory diseases. His exceptional scientific contributions, as well as engagement in teaching and supporting young scientists, were appraised by US President Barack Obama, who awarded him the National Medal of Technology and Innovation on February 1, 2013.

“It is a big honour for me to receive the honorary doctor title from Comenius University. The UK is also my alma mater; as a medical faculty student, I graduated in this very same auditorium, almost 57 years ago,” Vilček said at the ceremony on January 28.

The UK bestows the doctoral degree honoris causa to Slovak and foreign personalities who greatly contributed to the development and progress in science, education, culture, democracy, human values and humanism.