Szent-Györgyi, Albert

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Szent-Györgyi, Albert (von Nagyrapolt)

(1898–1986) biochemist; born in Budapest, Hungary. Trained as an anatomist, he worked at several European institutions, publishing studies of bacteriology and quantum mechanics before concentrating on biochemistry. He won the 1937 Nobel Prize in physiology for his discovery of the oxidation-preventing action of vitamin C, which he termed ascorbic acid. He also discovered the controversial vitamin P, plant pigments that reduce capillary fragility and protect against radiation damage. Harassed because of his anti-Nazi activities, he was granted protective citizenship at the Swedish embassy in Hungary. He refused the presidency of Hungary, emigrating to the U.S.A. in 1947 because of his dislike of postwar Soviet dominance of his native country. He joined the Marine Biology Laboratories at Woods Hole, Mass. (1947–86), and founded its Institute for Muscle Research (1947). There he continued research on heart muscle based on his 1940 discovery of the contractile muscle protein, actomyosin. He concurrently served the National Foundation for Cancer Research (1980–86). He authored several books and over 200 scientific papers, and was actively opposed to the Vietnam war.

Szent-Györgyi, Albert


Born Sept. 16, 1893, in Budapest. Hungarian-American biochemist. Member of the US National Academy of Sciences (1956) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1957).

Szent-Györgyi graduated from the University of Budapest in 1917 with the degree of doctor of medicine. In the years 1922–1926 he worked in the Netherlands and then in Great Britain. He received the Ph.D. degree from Cambridge University in 1927, and from that year until 1930 he worked at the Mayo Clinic in the United States. In 1930 he returned to Hungary, where he was a professor at the University of Szeged from 1931 to 1945 and at the University of Budapest from 1945 to 1947. In 1944 he participated in the Resistance Movement. Beginning in 1947, Szent-Györgyi worked in the United States at the Marine Biological Laboratories and the Institute for Muscle Research.

Szent-Györgyi has studied processes of biological oxidation. He isolated ascorbic acid from animal and plant tissues and showed that the acid is identical to vitamin C. He established that riboflavine belongs to the vitamin B2 complex. He also discovered and experimentally verified the mechanism for the catalytic action of fumaric, malic, and succinic acids on tissue respiration. In addition, he studied the properties of actin and myosin and formulated a number of theories on muscular contraction. Szent-Györgyi received a Nobel Prize in 1937. He is a foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1947) and an honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1945).


Chemistry of Muscular Contraction, 2nd ed. New York, 1951.
Egy biológus gondolatai. Budapest, 1970.
In Russian translation:
O myshechnoi deiatel’nosti. Moscow, 1947.
Bioenergelika. Moscow, 1960.
Vvedenie v submolekuliarnuiu biologiiu. Moscow, 1964.


Wurmser, R. “Al’bert Stsent-D’erd’i i sovremennaia biokhimiia.” In Gorizonty biokhimii. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from English.)