Cem Kozlu RA 65 Remembers His Grandfather, the Republic’s First Radiology Professor

The life of Salâhattin Mehmet Erk tells the story of one of the important new institutions of the Republic.

“My grandfather was born in 1895, the year Conrad Röentgen discovered X-rays. He attended Haydarpaşa Military Medical School and served in two bloody fronts: Gallipoli and Palestine. Near Aleppo he managed to save both his wounded commander and his portable X-ray machine after a 14-hour firefight, receiving a medal for his valor. Leaving occupied Istanbul behind, he went to Vienna to specialize in radiology under a pioneer in this young field, Prof. Holkznecht.

“After Vienna he studied at several German universities and visited roentgen equipment manufacturers. In 1923, Istanbul University established the Department of Radiology. He became its first instructor. Soon after he was appointed professor and department head. In 1927 he established the first department of radiology in the Faculty of Dentistry. At the time there were about 200 physicians in Turkey, battling diseases like tuberculosis and leprosy.

“He was among the founders of the Turkish Radiology Society. Starting with the first one in 1927, he was active in all the national medical congresses held biannually. Atatürk made available the Grand National Assembly for their use and attended many sessions.

“During long separations from my grandmother while at the battlefronts or abroad, he wrote her almost every day. These enabled me to put together the moving story of a patriot and a medical pioneer in the book Bir Tıp Şehidi.”

Published January 2024

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