Marko Leko

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Marko T. Leko (Serbian Cyrillic: Марко Т. Леко) was a notable Serbian scientist, chemist, professor and president of the Serbian Red Cross.

Marko T. Leko was born in Belgrade, Serbia, on September the 17th, 1853 to a merchant family. He attended and graduated from Polytechnic school in Zurich and obtained his doctoral degree in 1875. For a short period he was employed in Hoffmman's laboratory. His teaching posts include:

  • 1880-1884 professor of chemistry in Belgrade's secondary schools
  • 1881-1894 professor of chemistry in Serbia's Military Academy
  • 1894-1905 professor of chemistry in then Belgrade Higher School
  • 1884 became a member of Serbian Academic Society
  • 1892 became a member of Serbian Royal Academy
  • 1902/3 and 1903/4 was the Dean of then Great School
  • 1904-1920 state chemist and superintendent of State's Chemical Laboratory in Belgrade
  • 1897-1907 was a confounder and president of the Serbian Chemical Society


He has 52 publications mostly in the areas of organic and analytical chemistry. Thanks to work he dedicated in writing his doctoral dissertation and number of works that followed, he was able to solve one of the most sought problems of the time: does ammonium chloride and its closely related compounds belong to compounds of five valence nitrogen, NH4Cl, or to compounds such as NH3·HCl.

At the time of the founding of Belgrade University in 1905 he was elected as an associate professor. He was deeply offended by this decision and on his own request retired early, on May 26 of 1905.

His work in analytical chemistry had two main interests: researching natural resources of Earth (mineral waters), and finding and improving new analytical methods. He was also interested in chemical properties of natural spas and streams, and a stream located in Palanački Kiseljak bears his name Marko Leko. In 1899 he was promoting spas in Obrenovac region.

Leko was an active member of Serbian Red Cross. At first he was a treasurer (1915–1920), vice president (1921) and president (1924).

Personal life[edit]

Leko had a large family. With his wife Danica (née Antula) he had eleven children. As parents they dedicated much of their time to their children education: five of his sons were noted jurist (Dušan M. Leko), chemist (Aleksandar M. Leko), architect (Dimitrije M. Leko), general (Jovan Leko), banker and financier (Dragoljub M. Leko). His brother Dimitrije T. Leko was a renowned architect.


He died on 4 November 1932 in Belgrade. Many important dignitaries of the time paid tribute to the scientist: the King Alexander I, members of the Royal government, members of the central committee of Red Cross and members of academia and Belgrade University.

One of Belgrade's street, close to National Theater, bears his name. Before being renamed after him, the street bore the name Golden angel after the little family store owned by his father.