The name of Albert Szent-Györgyi is known not only in Szeged, but also all over the world. However, Szeged is the city that can rightly be proud of the Hungarian biochemist, as he is the only one who was living and working in his motherland when received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
The onetime rector of the University of Szeged lived an active life, both his scientific career and private life had interesting turning points. The brief, non-exhaustive introduction of his meaningful and exciting life can hold stunning excitement for everybody.
Albert Szent-Györgyi was born on 16 September 1893 in Budapest. He inherited his intelligence and curiosity for medicine from his mother, he comes from a famous scientist family. His great-grandfather, Mihály Lenhossék, was a doctor, university professor and the Surgeon General of Hungary. His uncle, József Lenhossék, was also a doctor, professor of Anatomy, and anthropologist, who in 1873 became ordinary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Family legend has it that he was the first person in Budapest to own a microscope. The young Albert was a bad student for a long time, so when he decided to continue his studies at the University of Medicine, his uncle prohibited it, as he was afraid that his nephew would bring shame on their family of doctors. As a testing, he had to do his first works on the rectum, under the instructions of his uncle, later he could study the eyes, then continued to work in the Physiology Institute.
Albert Szent-Györgyi served as an army medic in the First World War, which were very hard times for him, and he shot himself in the arm to be sent to hospital from the battlefield. In 1917 he married his first wife, Kornélia Demény, and in 1918 their daughter Nelli was born. In the years after the war, difficulties and hunger characterized his life. He visited several countries and finally on 26 October 1930 he returned to Hungary and settled in Szeged. With the support of the Rockefeller Foundation he created a modern, scientific center and biochemistry school in Szeged. He introduced a new educational style, unlike the regular rigid, authoritarian professors, he expected his student to debate, he invited them to his home, he went to the cinema and on trips with them. The polymath professor became an excellent role model for his students, he played tennis, he learnt gliding, and lived an active life.
To be continued….
Information source: Wikipedia
University of Szeged Albert Szent-Györgyi memorial site