Albert Szent-Györgyi (16 Sept. 1893, Budapest – 22 Oct. 1986, Woods Hall, Massachusetts): biochemist, member of the Hungarian Scientific Academy (regular member: 1935, honourable member: 1945), winner of the Nobel Prize (1937). Descendant of the famous scientist dynasty, the Lenhoss family. University studies: 1911-17, University of Budapest.
As a student of medicine he was interested in morphology, later on he did biopsies in the institute run by his uncle, Mihály Lenhoss. He participated in the First World War as a medical student, but soon got wounded and was demobilised. After graduating in medicine he both improved his knowledge and kept courses in Bratislava, Prague, Berlin, Leiden, Cgroineng, and Cambridge (here he acquired a PhD in Chemistry in 1927). 1931-1945: he was the professor of the Ferencz József University of Szeged, Medical Chemistry Institute. 1945-1947: he was a professor of Biochemistry at the Budapest Medical University. 1946-1948: he was the vice-president of the Hungarian Scientific Academy. In 1947 he immigrated to the USA. 1947-1962: he was the director of the USA Scientific Institute for the Research of the Muscular System, Marine Biology Laboratory. 1962-1971: he became university professor of the Dart-Mounth University, being also member of several scientific committees. At the beginning of his career he was interested in biological oxidation, he proved that metabolism is a result of the activation of hydrogen and oxygen.
He discovered the catalysis of dicarbon acid C4, a basis for the Krebs circulation process. His researches concerning the peroxide-system led to the discovery of the reducing agent necessary for oxidation – the ascorbic acid. He established the compounds of hexuron acid, identified it with the ascorbic acid – and this is vitamin C. This discovery brought him the Nobel Prize in 1937. He started to deal with the biophysical and biochemical mechanism of muscular contraction already during the years in Szeged. After doing some submolecular research his interest turned towards malignant tumours. He was trying to solve the problem of cellular regulation for two decades. During the Second World War he was opposing the politics of the Nazi Germany.
He had an important role in the diplomatic actions of the Kállay government that tried to escape war. Although he lived in the USA since 1947, he always kept in touch with his native country, and declared to be a Hungarian. He regularly visited Hungary after1960. The Medical University of Szeged, after offering him the title of “Doctor Honoris Causa”, adopted his name in 1987.