IBRO International Workshop 2012
January 19-21, 2012 - Szeged, Hungary
Director General Ormos!
Respected Members of the Szentágothai Family!
Distinguished Guests and Participants!
Dear Friends and Colleagues!
Welcome to the opening of the IBRO Workshop 2012 in the Congress Center of the University of Szeged. On behalf of the organizers, I would like to express my gratitude to the organizing institutions, the Biological Research Centre, the Hungarian IBRO Committee, the Central and East European Regional Committee of IBRO and the Hungarian Neuroscience Society for their support and encouragement, which made this meeting possible. Also, I would like to express my appreciation for the generous support of our sponsors and exhibitors. Professor Pálinkás is the 5th president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences since János Szentágothai retired from this position. We are honored that he accepted our request to be the chief patron of the Workshop. We are thankful to our patrons, Gábor Szabó, president of the University of Szeged, and Pál Ormos, general director of the Biological Research Centre. Finally, I am grateful to all of you who accepted our invitations, and appreciate your excellent contribution to this unique meeting.
I am honored to announce that this Workshop will be the opening event of a series of conferences throughout 2012 celebrating the Centenary of the birth of János Szentágothai, the highly esteemed Hungarian neuroanatomist, to whom not only this meeting, but – thanks to the Hungarian Ambassador to the UNESCO and the senior neuroscientists of Hungary – the whole year of 2012 is dedicated. The first day of the conference is devoted to commemorating Professor Szentágothai along the motto of ‘From Heritage to Future’, thus the first symposium will be reviewing his legacy, while the second one, in the afternoon, will give opportunity to talented next generation neurobiologists to provide us a glimpse into the hopefully bright future of the Hungarian Neuroscience. During the rest of the Workshop, the participants can attend introductory plenary lectures and thematically connected half-day-long symposia addressing hot topics in neuroscience, such as pain mechanisms, retinal degeneration, and stress regulation.
I honestly thank the symposium-organizers and speakers of this Workshop for coming to Szeged to help us launching the series of events commemorating János Szentágothai.
I wish you a scientifically fruitful meeting and a pleasant stay in Szeged!
On behalf of the organizers
László Siklós, Ph.D.
President of the Organizing Committee
Institute of Biophysics, Biological Research Centre
Commemoration of János Szentágothai
Professor János Szentágothai (1912-1994)
was a prominent neuroscientist, highly esteemed and well known all over the world. His scientific career had an early start as a pupil of the renowned neurohistologist, Mihály Lenhossék, chairman of the Anatomy Department of the University of Budapest. He joined this department as a medical student and worked there till 1946, when he was invited to take over the vacant chair of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Pécs. He served there until 1963, when he was called back to the University of Budapest as chairman of the Department of Anatomy, a position he held until 1977. From 1977 up to 1985 he was the highly respected president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
His scientific contributions are of enormous significance. He developed the first successful methods for tracing neuronal connections by the application of synapse degeneration. Szentágothai’s early pioneering studies in the late 1930s and 1940s on synapse and axonal degeneration laid the groundwork for the understanding of the structural basis of the nervous system that gave a secure principle for the emerging field of modern microelectrophysiology. He defined the anatomical basis of the monosynaptic nature of the stretch reflex of muscles, and of several spinal and brainstem pathways. One of his most important lines of study was the reflex pathways between labyrinth and extraocular muscles. He gave the first functional model of the cerebellar cortex neuron network on which the early studies of Sir John Eccles and his co-workers were based. His concept of the modular architectonic principle of neural centres also greatly increased understanding of the cerebral cortex neuron network. With students and other co-workers he ventured into computer simulation of anatomically realistic neuron networks. Although he left the field of neuroendocrinology largely to his students, he was the first to demonstrate the neuronal basis of a parvicellular hypothalamo-adenohypophysial neurosecretory system. Early studies of embryonic tissue recombinations enabled him to enter a new field: explaining neural functions as the result of self-organization rather than according to the old paradigm of the reflex principle. This approach made it possible to redefine the problem of brain – mind relationship in more realistic terms. He always remained a strict pragmatist and refrained from premature and philosophically unsound speculations. His extraordinary achievements have been recognised by many academies and scientific societies all over the world.
Besides his intense research work, Professor Szentágothai was also an outstanding teacher of the University. His lectures on human anatomy, histology and embryology were extremely colorful, highly appreciated and loved by the students.
His knowledge was not restricted to neuroscience and anatomy. He was a person of great erudition, deeply interested in almost everything, in history, literature, music, fine arts (he made excellent water-color paintings), biology, politics, etc.
He attracted a large number of talented young people, who joined him and had the great privilege to work with him. At least three generations of researchers in the field of neuroscience started their scientific career under his guidance. Many of his scholars working in Hungary and abroad in different laboratories all over the world, are internationally well known and recognized researchers.
His impaction neuromorphology can only be compared to that of Ramón y Cajal. Sir John Eccles said “Ramon y Cajal was a great pioneer and János Szentágothai is a worthy successor of Cajal”.
Prof. Béla Halász
Department of Human Morphology and Developmental Biology