Albert Szent-Györgyi


Albert Szent-Györgyi

Infobox Scientist
name = Albert Szent-Györgyi
box_width =



image_width =150px
caption =Albert Szent-Györgyi at the time of his appointment to the National Institutes of Health
birth_date = September 16, 1893
birth_place = Budapest, Hungary
death_date = October 22, 1986
death_place = Woods Hole, Massachusetts
residence =
citizenship =
nationality = Hungarian
ethnicity =
field = physiology
work_institutions =
alma_mater =
doctoral_advisor =
doctoral_students =
known_for = vitamin C
author_abbrev_bot =
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influences =
influenced =
prizes = Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1937
religion =
footnotes =

Albert Szent-Györgyi de Nagyrápolt (September 16, 1893 – October 22, 1986) was a Hungarian physiologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1937. He is credited with discovering vitamin C. He was also active in the Hungarian Resistance during World War II and entered Hungarian politics after the war.

Life in Hungary

Szent-Györgyi was born in Budapest, Hungary. His father, Miklós Szent-Györgyi, was a landowner. His mother, Jozefin, was a daughter of József Lenhossék and a sister of Mihály Lenhossék; both of these men were Professors of Anatomy at the University of Budapest. Szent-Györgyi began his studies at the Budapest Medical School, but soon became bored with classes and began research in his uncle's anatomy lab. His studies were interrupted in 1914 to serve as an army medic in World War I. In 1916, disgusted with the war, Szent-Györgyi shot himself in the arm, claimed to be wounded from enemy fire, and was sent home on medical leave. He was then able to finish his medical education and receive his MD in 1917. He married Kornélia Demény, the daughter of the Hungarian Postmaster General that same year. She accompanied him to his next position at an army clinic in northern Italy.

After the war, Szent-Györgyi began his research career in Pressburg (Hungarian: Pozsony, today: Bratislava). When the city became part of Czechoslovakia in January 1919, he left the town as did a portion of the Hungarian population. He switched universities several times over the next few years, finally ending up at the University of Groningen, where his work focused on the chemistry of cellular respiration. This work landed him a position as a Rockefeller Foundation fellow at Cambridge University. He received his PhD from Cambridge in 1927 for his work on isolating what he then called "hexuronic acid" from adrenal gland tissue.

He accepted a position at the University of Szeged in 1931. There, Szent-Györgyi and his research fellow Joseph Svirbely found that "hexuronic acid" was actually vitamin C (the L-enantiomer of ascorbic acid) and noted its anti-scorbutic activity. In some experiments they used paprika as the source for their vitamin C. Also during this time, Szent-Györgyi continued his work on cellular respiration, identifying fumaric acid and other steps in what would become known as the Krebs cycle.

In 1937, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "For his discoveries in connection with the biological combustion process with special reference to vitamin C and the catalysis of fumaric acid". In 1938, he began work on the biophysics of muscle movement. He found that muscles contain actin, which when combined with the protein myosin and the energy source ATP, contract muscle fibers.

As fascists gained control of politics in Hungary, Szent-Györgyi helped his Jewish friends escape from the country. During World War II, he joined the Hungarian resistance movement. Although Hungary was allied with the Axis Powers, the Hungarian prime minister Miklós Kállay sent Szent-Györgyi to Istanbul in 1944 under the guise of a scientific lecture to begin secret negotiations with the Allies. The Germans learned of this plot, and Adolf Hitler himself issued a warrant for the arrest of Szent-Györgyi. He escaped house arrest and spent 1944 to 1945 as a fugitive from the Gestapo.

After the war, Szent-Györgyi was well-recognized as a public figure and there was some speculation that he might become President of Hungary, should the Soviets permit it. Szent-Györgyi established a lab at the University of Budapest and became head of the biochemistry department there. He was elected as a member of Parliament and helped re-establish the Academy of Sciences. Dissatisfied with the Communist rule of Hungary, he emigrated to the United States in 1947.

Move to the United States

In 1947, Szent-Györgyi established a lab at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts with financial support from Hungarian businessman Stephen Rath. However, Szent-Györgyi still faced funding difficulties for several years, due to his foreign status and former association with the government of a Communist nation. In 1948, he received a research position with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland and began dividing his time between there and Woods Hole. In 1950, grants from the Armour Meat Company and the American Heart Association allowed him to establish the Institute for Muscle Research.

During the 1950s, Szent-Györgyi began using electron microscopes to study muscles at the subunit level. He received the Lasker Award in 1954. In 1955, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1956.

In the late 1950s, Szent-Györgyi developed a research interest in cancer and developed ideas on applying the theories of quantum physics to the biochemistry of cancer. The death of Rath, who had acted as the financial administrator of the Institute for Muscle Research, left Szent-Györgyi in a financial mess. Szent-Györgyi refused to submit government grants which required him to provide minute details on exactly how he intended to spend the research dollars and what he expected to find. After commenting on his financial hardships in a 1971 newspaper interview, attorney Franklin Salisbury contacted Szent-Györgyi and later helped him establish a private non-profit organization, the National Foundation for Cancer Research. Late in life, Szent-Györgyi began to pursue free radicals as a potential cause of cancer. He came to see cancer as being ultimately an electronic problem at the molecular level. In 1974, reflecting his interests in quantum physics, he proposed the term "syntropy" replace the term "negentropy".Fact|date=February 2007 Ralph Moss, a protegé of his in the years he performed his cancer research, wrote a biography entitled: "Free Radical: Albert Szent-Gyorgyi and the Battle over Vitamin C", ISBN 0-913729-78-7, (1988), Paragon House Publishers, New York.

He died in Woods Hole, Massachusetts on October 22, 1986.

Works Online

* [http://fair-use.org/rampart-journal/1965/03/teaching-and-the-expanding-knowledge "Teaching and the Expanding Knowledge"] , in "Rampart Journal of Individualist Thought", Vol. 1, No. 1 (March 1965). 24-28. (Reprinted from "Science", Vol. 146, No. 3649 [December 4, 1965] . 1278-1279.)

Publications

* "On Oxidation, Fermentation, Vitamins, Health, and Disease" (1940)
* "Bioenergetics" (1957)
* "Introduction to a Submolecular Biology" (1960)
* "The Crazy Ape" (1970)
* "Electronic Biology and Cancer: A New Theory of Cancer" (1976)
* "The living state" (1972)
* "Bioelectronics: a study in cellular regulations, defense and cancer"

References

*US National Library of Medicine. The Albert Szent-Györgyi Papers. [http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/WG/ NIH Profiles in Science]
*
*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Szolcsányi
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month=Oct
title= [Memories of Albert Szent-Györgyi in 1943 about the beginning of his research and about his mentor, Géza Mansfeld]
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doi = 10.1556/OH.2007.H2142
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*cite journal
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last=Juhász-Nagy
first=Sándor
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year=2002
month=Mar
title= [Albert Szent-Györgyi--biography of a free genius]
journal=Orvosi hetilap
volume=143
issue=12
pages=611–4
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pmid = 11963399
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pages=2831–3
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year=2000
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title=Albert Szent-Györgyi--Nobel laureate
journal=Mayo Clin. Proc.
volume=75
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pages=722
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pmid = 10907388
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*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Manchester
first=K L
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year=1998
month=Jan
title=Albert Szent-Györgyi and the unravelling of biological oxidation
journal=Trends Biochem. Sci.
volume=23
issue=1
pages=37–40
publisher = | location =
pmid = 9478135
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doi=10.1016/S0968-0004(97)01167-5

*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Gábor
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authorlink=
year=1996
month=Jan
title= [Albert Szent-Györgyi and flavonoid research]
journal=Orvosi hetilap
volume=137
issue=2
pages=83–4
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pmid = 8721874
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*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Nagy
first=I Z
authorlink=
year=1995
month=
title=Semiconduction of proteins as an attribute of the living state: the ideas of Albert Szent-Györgyi revisited in light of the recent knowledge regarding oxygen free radicals
journal=Exp. Gerontol.
volume=30
issue=3-4
pages=327–35
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pmid = 7556511
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doi=10.1016/0531-5565(94)00043-3

*cite journal
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last=Zallár
first=A
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coauthors=Szabó T
year=1989
month=Apr
title=Habent sua fata libelli: the adventurous story of Albert Szent-Györgyi's book entitled Studies on Muscle (1945)
journal=Acta Physiol. Scand.
volume=135
issue=4
pages=423–4
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pmid = 2660487
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pages=949–50
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last=Szabó
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coauthors=Zallár A, Zallár I
year=1988
month=
title=Albert Szent-Györgyi in Szeged
journal=Geographia medica
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pages=153–6
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pmid = 3049243
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Banga
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year=1987
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title= [In memory of Albert Szent-Györgyi]
journal=Orvosi hetilap
volume=128
issue=2
pages=97–8
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pmid = 3547244
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Cohen
first=S S
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year=1987
month=
title=Thoughts on the later career of Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
journal=Acta Biochim. Biophys. Hung.
volume=22
issue=2-3
pages=141–8
publisher = | location = | issn =
pmid = 3118622
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Straub
first=F B
authorlink=
year=1987
month=
title=The charismatic teacher at Szeged: Albert Szent-Györgyi
journal=Acta Biochim. Biophys. Hung.
volume=22
issue=2-3
pages=135–9
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pmid = 3118621
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

*cite journal
quotes = yes
year=1983
month=Oct
title= [Salute to the 90-year old Albert Szent-Györgyi]
journal=Orvosi hetilap
volume=124
issue=40
pages=2435–6
publisher = | location = | issn =
pmid = 6369221
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*cite journal
quotes = yes
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first=E
authorlink=
year=1982
month=May
title=Albert Szent-Györgyi: the art in being wrong
journal=Hospital practice (Hospital ed.)
volume=17
issue=5
pages=179–84, 185–6, 192
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pmid = 7044943
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Szállási
first=A
authorlink=
year=1980
month=Feb
title= [Albert Szent-Györgyi in the journal Nyugat]
journal=Orvosi hetilap
volume=121
issue=8
pages=468
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pmid = 6992048
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Holden
first=C
authorlink=
year=1979
month=Feb
title=Albert-Szent-Györgyi, electrons, and cancer
journal=Science
volume=203
issue=4380
pages=522–4
publisher = | location =
pmid = 366748
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =
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*cite journal
quotes = yes
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first=T
authorlink=
year=1977
month=Dec
title= [Albert Szent-Györgyi in Hungarian numismatics]
journal=Orvosi hetilap
volume=118
issue=52
pages=3170–1
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authorlink=
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month=Nov
title= [Albert Szent-Györgyi was awarded the Nobel Prize 40 years ago]
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volume=118
issue=46
pages=2782–3
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pmid = 335333
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*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Kardos
first=I
authorlink=
year=1975
month=
title=A talk with Albert Szent-Györgyi
journal=The New Hungarian quarterly
volume=16
issue=57
pages=136–50
publisher = | location = | issn =
pmid = 11635455
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Szállási
first=A
authorlink=
year=1974
month=Dec
title= [2 interesting early articles by Albert Szent-Györgyi]
journal=Orvosi hetilap
volume=115
issue=52
pages=3118–9
publisher = | location = | issn =
pmid = 4612454
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Kenéz
first=J
authorlink=
year=1973
month=Dec
title= [Eventful life of a scientist. 80th birthday of Nobel prize winner Albert Szent-Györgyi]
journal=Münchener medizinische Wochenschrift (1950)
volume=115
issue=51
pages=2324–6
publisher = | location = | issn =
pmid = 4589872
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

*cite journal
quotes = yes
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first=Y
authorlink=
year=1969
month=Dec
title= [Doctor Albert von Szent-Gyoergyi]
journal=Nippon Ishikai zasshi. Journal of the Japan Medical Association
volume=62
issue=11
pages=1164–8
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bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Kenéz
first=J
authorlink=
year=1968
month=Dec
title= [Albert Szent-Györgyi is 75 years old]
journal=Orvosi hetilap
volume=109
issue=50
pages=2777–81
publisher = | location = | issn =
pmid = 4887815
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

*cite journal
quotes = yes
last=Sulek
first=K
authorlink=
year=1968
month=May
title= [Nobel prize for Albert Szant-Györgyi in 1937 for studies on the metabolic processes, particularly of vitamin C and catalysis of fumaric acid]
journal=Wiad. Lek.
volume=21
issue=10
pages=911
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pmid = 4875831
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

External links

* [http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/1937/szent-gyorgyi-bio.html Biography of Albert Szent-Györgyi] - from "Nobel Lectures", Physiology or Medicine 1922-1941
* [http://www.magyarorszag.hu/angol/orszaginfo/magyarok/hiresek/szent_gyorgyialbert/szentgyorgyi_a.html His biography at Hungary.hu]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/broadband/archive/gyorgyi/ BBC Interview, 1965]
* [http://osulibrary.oregonstate.edu/specialcollections/coll/pauling/peace/people/szent-gyorgyi.html A collection] of digitized materials related to Szent-Györgyi and Linus Pauling's peace activism.


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