Andrew G. Szent-Györgyi

Szent-Gyorgyi-and-Phys-students-by-B-ShinnWith sadness, the MBL notes the passing of MBL Emeritus Society Member Andrew G. Szent-Györgyi who passed away on January 27, 2015 in Woods Hole at the age of 90. The MBL flag will be lowered in his memory.

Born in Hungary in 1924, Szent-Györgyi earned his M.D. at the University of Budapest in 1947. He left Hungary for Denmark in 1948, and soon after emigrated to the U.S. Upon arrival in the U.S., Szent-Györgyi along with his wife and collaborator, Eva M. Szentkiralyi, joined the MBL’s Institute for Muscle Research in the laboratory of his cousin, Albert Szent-Györgyi.

Szent-Györgyi worked at the MBL until 1962, when he accepted a position at Dartmouth Medical School. Four years later he moved to Brandeis University. From 1975 to 1979 he served as Chair of the Biology Department. He continued research as Professor Emeritus at Brandeis until he retired to Woods Hole in 2007.

Throughout his career, Szent-Györgyi worked to understand the structure, function, and regulation of myosin motors and served as an inspiration for all of his trainees and many collaborators.  He had a long association with the MBL Physiology course, serving as a faculty member most years from the early 1950s through the 1980s. Szent-Györgyi directed the course from 1967 through 1972 and, under his leadership, attracted a number of influential scientists to participate in the course, including Sidney Brenner, Hugh Huxley, Shinya Inoué, and Kenneth Van Holde. His interaction with the course continued as late as 2010, when he taught students how to purify myosin from marine organisms.

Szent-Györgyi published more than 150 research articles and received numerous awards, including the Public Health Service Research Career Award (1962-1966), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1966), election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1975), and a MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health (1987-1997).  He served as president of the Society of General Physiologists (1970-197l), president of the Biophysical Society (1974-1975), and was an honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Science.

In addition to his many scientific accomplishments, Szent-Györgyi is widely admired for his mentorship of young scientists.  He trained several generations of students and postdocs in his laboratory, many of whom went on to become successful independent scientists, and he infused a love and enthusiasm for science in the many students who were fortunate to work with him in the Physiology course.

He is preceded in death by his first wife Eva Szentkiralyi and is survived by his wife Ursula Rowan. He leaves children by his first marriage Christopher, Kathryn, and David, grandchildren John, Sarah, and Julianna, niece Lara, and Ursula’s children Christopher, Timothy, and Peter Rowan.

A memorial service will take place in the Meigs Room of the MBL Swope Center on Sunday, July 26, 2015.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the:
Andrew Szent-Györgyi Endowed Lecture in Physiology

Office of External Relations
Candle House, 3rd Floor
7 MBL Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543