About BRC - History - Lajos Alföldi

Lajos Alföldi

Miskolc, 9 March 1927

Director General of the BRC of the HAS („MTA”): 1978 – 1988
Director of the Institute of Genetics of the BRC of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (“HAS”) („MTA”): 1971 – 1993

Lajos Alföldi graduated in general medicine from the Faculty of Medicine of Szeged University in 1951 (1945-1949: Pázmány Péter University, Faculty of Medicine; 1949-1951: Szeged University, Faculty of Medicine). PhD of Medicine: 1955. Institut Pasteur, Paris, France: 1 September 1956 – 31 August 1957. Laboratory Physician: 1960. Doctor of Biological Sciences: 1971.

Szeged Medical University (“SZOTE”), Institute of Microbiology: Teaching Assistant (1951), PhD student (1951-1954), Assistant Lecturer (1954), Senior Lecturer (1954-1958), Associate Professor (1958-1970); organised Department of Genetics of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at József Attila University („JATE”) and later worked there as Associate Professor (1967-1972). Institute of Genetics, BRC, HAS („MTA”): Director (1970-1994), Director General of the BRC of the HAS („MTA”) (1978-1988).

Academy offices:
Lajos Alföldi is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences („MTA”) (corresponding member from 1982; full member since 1990). He was the Chairman of the Genetics Committee (1970-75) and an elected member of the Presidium of the HAS („MTA”) (1990-1993).

Activities in politics and public life:
Secretary of the Szeged Committee of the HAS (1967-1969), Chairman of the Szeged Unit of the HNF (“Patriotic People’s Front”) (1987-1990).

Research areas, scientific results:
Lajos Alföldi started his research career with the examination of the nutrient requirements of bacteria. His attention then shifted to bacterial genetics and, in the course of his research in this area, he became an expert in molecular and classic genetics. With the knowledge obtained through his research activities, he started lecturing in modern genetics at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of József Attila University (at a time when a different school of genetics prevailed in this part of the divided world) and formulated the research programme of the Institute of Genetics of the BRC, which meets international standards.
Lajos Alföldi played a key role in laying the foundation for one of the success areas of Hungary’s pharmaceutical industry (B12 vitamin production) and was a co-worker in the discovery of megacinogeny, a phenomenon which is a subject of research even today. With his colleagues, he elaborated and introduced an information transmission process into bacterial genetics, called protoplast fusion, which had never been applied before.

Editorial activities:
Theoretical and Applied Genetics, Editorial Board, (1971-1992).

Offices, memberships:
International Cell Research Organization (ICRO), Paris, Council member (1975-1981); Gulbenkian Institut of Science, Oeiras, Portugal, Scientific Advisory Board member (1984-1989); a member of the Plenum of the National Committee for Technological Development (“OMFB”; today called National Office for Research and Technology) (1985-1989); Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Bay Zoltán Research Foundation (1999-2001).

Membership in further organisations:
the Hungarian Microbiology Society (1952- ), the Hungarian Biochemistry Association (1981- ) and the Hungarian Genetics Society (1983-).

Prizes, awards, honorary titles:
Lajos Alföldi was granted the title of Honorary Professor of Szeged Medical University (SZOTE) in 1971. He was awarded the Manninger Rezső Memorial Prize by the Hungarian Microbiology Society (1990), the Scientific Board of Trustees Prize of the Foundation for Szeged (“Szegedért Alapítvány”) (1992), the Honoris Causa Doctor title of József Attila University (“JATE”) (1994) and the Jancsó Miklós Memorial Prize of Szeged Medical University (“SZOTE”) (1999),
Order of Merit of Labour, Silver Medal (“Munkaérdemrend Ezüst Fokozat”) (1977), State Prize (1985), Socialist Hungary Order of Merit (1987).