About BRC - Directors - Imre Vass

Imre Vass

Szentes, 5 May 1952
M.Sc. in Physics, a Doctor of Biological Sciences

Director of the Institute of Plant Biology of the BRC of the HAS („MTA”): 2000 -


Imre Vass graduated in physics from József Attila University, Szeged, in 1975. After graduation, he worked in the Theoretical Physics Department of József Attila University and became an employee of the Institute of Plant Biology of the Szeged Biological Research Centre of the HAS („MTA”) in 1987. Since the year 2000, he has been the Director of the Institute. Imre Vass obtained a PhD of Biological Sciences in 1984 and a doctorate in biological sciences in 1994. He has spent over five years in the world’s leading photosynthesis laboratories (RIKEN Institute Tokyo, 1984-86; Department of Biochemistry, Stockholm University, 1989-91; Demokritos Institute Athens, 6 months, 1995; Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, 12 months, 1997-2000). In the year 1998, he was appointed habilitated private university professor of Szeged University and was awarded a Széchenyi Professor Grant. He continuously lectures at Szeged University for undergraduate and PhD students. Under his supervision, 10 PhD students have obtained their degree and work in his special field and another 3 researchers with a Bolyai Grant work under his supervision.

Imre Vass is an internationally reputed plant biology researcher, whose works are broadly cited. His special field within plant biology is the examination of the primary light energy transformation processes of oxygen generating photosynthesis, with special respect to the structure-function interrelations within the second photochemical system. In his research work, Imre Vass pays key attention to applying a multidisciplinary approach. He has elaborated a theoretical description of photosynthetic thermo-luminescence which enables the identification of the energetics parameters of the charge recombination processes taking place in the second photochemical system. In Hungary, he launched research into the light inhibition of photosynthesis. The most outstanding result of this research was proving that one fundamental mechanism of light inhibition by visible light is singlet oxygen formation mediated by triplet chlorophyll, which takes place as a result of the charge recombination processes taking place in the second photochemical system. As a result of his activities as group leader in the course of the past nearly twenty years, an active research group has been assembled in the Institute of Plant Biology, which examines photosynthetic light energy transformation and the mechanisms of the impacts of different abiotic and biotic stress factors deteriorating plants, through the combined application of modern biophysics and molecular biology methods. Within the Institute of Plant Biology, Imre Vass managed to establish efficient cooperation between the group dealing with the fundamental questions related to light perception, light energy transformation and molecular plant biology and that involved in the development of plant biotechnology applications.

The findings of his research have been published in 135 articles in international journals and in 8 book chapters. The total impact factor of his articles amounts to 415 and their H factor reaches 35. A total of 3880 references (2830 independent) are known to have been made to his publications. His successful organisation activities in scientific life are shown by the following projects: EU (1), NATO (1) and ICGEB (1), implemented under his coordination, and 3 EU, 3 NKTH, over 10 Hungarian Scientific Research Fund („OTKA”) and also more than 10 bilateral TÉT projects managed by him as supervisor. Imre Vass was the organiser or co-organiser of 5 international conferences.

Imre Vass has far-reaching international relations and is in active cooperation with the European research groups that play a key role in his special field of research. Between 2003 and 2007, he was a member of the Life Science Panel of the European Young Investigator Award, established by the European Science Foundation (ESF). In 2009, also to the invitation of the ESF, he undertook the leadership of the international body responsible for the evaluation of the life science institutes of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.