Brief Chronology

  • 1893 --Born in Budapest, Hungary, September 16
  • 1911 --Entered Budapest Medical School
  • 1914-16 --Military service, World War I
  • 1917 --MD from Budapest Medical School
  • 1917 --Married Cornelia ("Nelly") Demeny; served as military physician in northern Italy
  • 1919 --Research assistant at Pharmacological Institute in Pozsony (now Bratislava)
  • 1920-22 --Research assistant in Berlin, Hamburg, and Leiden (pharmacology and biochemistry)
  • 1922-26 --Research assistant at University of Groningen; began focusing on biological oxidation and intracellular respiration
  • Late 1926-30 --Rockefeller Foundation fellow at Cambridge University
  • 1927 --PhD in biochemistry from Cambridge, for isolation of "hexuronic acid" from adrenal gland tissue
  • 1929-30 --Fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; isolated larger quantity of hexuronic acid (1 oz.)
  • 1931 --Became chair of medical chemistry department at University of Szeged, Hungary
  • Late 1931 --New research fellow Joseph Svirbely (from University of Pittsburgh) tested Szent-Györgyi's small remaining supply of pure "hexuronic acid" in guinea pig study and found that it was vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • 1932 --C. G. King of University of Pittsburgh (Svirbely's mentor) claimed he had isolated and identified vitamin C, without mentioning Svirbely or Szent-Györgyi though they had informed him of their discoveries. Controversy ensued
  • 1933-36 --Traveled widely, "preaching vitamin C," and trying it out on various diseases; also continued to work on metabolic processes of muscle cells
  • 1933-41 --Increased anti-fascist activity, especially in his role as university professor and rector; included helping Jewish friends to flee as conditions became more repressive
  • 1937 --Received Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for "discoveries in connection with the biological combustion processes, with especial reference to vitamin C and the catalysis of fumaric acid"
  • 1938-43 --Began work on the biochemistry of muscle movement; articulated ideas about applying quantum physics to biochemical studies (1941)
  • 1941 --Divorced Nelly; married Marta Miskolczy
  • 1941-45 --Became more involved in politics, and eventually in Hungary's anti-fascist underground; met with Allied representatives in 1943 regarding Hungary's possible defection from Axis alliance, leading Hitler to demand his arrest. Under house arrest in summer of 1944, escaped just ahead of Gestapo, and spent rest of war as a fugitive
  • 1945-47 --Helped to rebuild Budapest, especially the University and Academy of Sciences; hoped that occupying Russian forces would tolerate social demoncracy, but was disappointed
  • 1947 --Emigrated to United States; settled at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and established the Szent-Györgyi Foundation for muscle research
  • 1948-50 --Received a research stipend from National Institutes of Health (NIH); also funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and Princeton University. Szent-Györgyi Foundation renamed Institute for Muscle Research
  • 1950-54 --Received research funding from Armour Meat Company to continue research on muscle tissue and biochemistry. Additional funding from American Heart Association
  • 1954 --Received a Lasker Award in 1954 for his contribution to understanding cardiovascular diseases through basic research
  • 1955 --Became U.S. citizen
  • 1955-70s --Took up work on bioflavinoids, focusing on their possible value in understanding and treating cancer; much of the funding from NIH grants
  • 1956 --Elected to National Academy of Sciences
  • 1960s --Began writing and speaking about nuclear threat and peace movement, later on the Vietnam war
  • 1963 --Marta Szent-Györgyi died of cancer
  • 1972 --Franklin and Tamara Salisbury began raising funds for a foundation to support Szent-Györgyi's research on cancer, the National Foundation for Cancer Research
  • 1973-83 --Szent-Györgyi's work supported by NFCR; theories developed about the connections between chemical free radicals and cancer
  • 1975 --Married Marcia Houston
  • 1986 --Died at Woods Hole (October 22)