About BRC - Directors - György Pósfai

György Pósfai

Szombathely, 11 September 1956
Biologist

Director of the Institute of Biochemistry of the BRC of the HAS („MTA”): 2004 -

Studies:
György Pósfai graduated from secondary school at Nagy Lajos Grammar School in Szombathely (1971-1975). He obtained a summa cum laude Master’s degree at József Attila University, Szeged, in biology in the year 1981. In 1983, he obtained a summa cum laude University Doctor and, in 1989, a PhD Degree with his work on the identification and description of the genes of restricting-modifying enzyme systems. His dissertation published in 2004 under the title „Genome Manipulation in the Escherichia coli Bacterium” earned him the doctoral degree of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS).

Career:
Since 1981, Dr. Pósfai has been working for the Szeged Biological Research Centre (BRC) of the HAS. He was first appointed a group leader (in 1996), later Deputy Director (in 1998). Since 2004, he has been the Director of the Institute of Biochemistry of the BRC. In 2006, he established the Synthetic and Systems Biology Unit within the Institute. Between 1986 and 1989, he spent two and a half years at the University of Wisconsin, USA, in the laboratory of Waclaw Szybalski, in a post-doctoral position. In 1991, he worked in the laboratory of Wilhelm Guschlbauer in Saclay, France. Between 1992 and 1994, he spent another two years in the USA, in the laboratory of Waclaw Szybalski, as a visiting researcher. In 1997, he spent another 3 months at the University of Wisconsin, this time working in the laboratory of Frederick R. Blattner. Between 1997 and 2003, he regularly lectured at Szeged University.

Research areas, scientific results:
Dr. Pósfai’s special fields are molecular biology, microbial genomics and synthetic biology. In the course of the first decade of his career, he dealt with the description of the molecular biology characteristics of restricting-modifying enzymes. In the early days of genome sequencing, his attention then shifted primarily to microbial genomics; he was a member of a team that identified the genome sequence of two bacteria – one being a pathogenic bacterium – and their comparative genomics analysis. Developing novel genome engineering procedures, he created bacteria with a simplified gene-set. The minimal E. coli cell, used both in research and biotechnology, is patented and is distributed by biotechnology organisations. At present, his research focus is on the minimisation of microbial cells and on the evolution of the simplified cells.

Offices, memberships:
Dr. Pósfai has participated in the work of several Hungarian and international scientific juries and committees. He is an elected member of the Presidential Board of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences for the 2014-2016 period. He is a member of the Hungarian Biochemistry Association, the European Academies Scientific Advisory Council (EASAC) Biosciences Steering Panel, and the European Academy of Microbiology. He regularly evaluates articles for a number of international journals. He has taken part in the elaboration of the synthetic biology programme of the European Science Foundation, and participated in the formulation of expert recommendations of EASAC on synthetic biology and on virus research.

Scholarships, grants, prizes:
Between 1981 and 1983, he had a scholarship granted by the Committee of Scientific Qualifications. In the year 1991, he won a a visiting researcher scholarship from the French Ministry of Science and Technology. Between 1996 and 2000, he worked with the five-year International Research Scholar scholarship of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was granted a Széchenyi Professor Grant for the years 2000-2003. In 2006, he was awarded the Straub Plaque of the Szeged Biological Research Centre of the HAS („MTA”).

Other information:
Dr. Pósfai is a co-owner of seven international patents and the author of two book chapters. As of January 2016, he had 41 international scientific publications, their total impact factor being 300, and the number of independent references to these amounted to 3400.