Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, 93, Dies; Discoverer of Vitamin C, Peace Activist
Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, a biochemist and physician who won the Nobel Prize for discovering Vitamin C and who was a vocal peace advocate, has died of kidney failure at age 93.
Szent-Gyorgyi, a native of Hungary, won the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology in 1937, 10 years before he came to the United States. Vitamin C has been used to eliminate scurvy and to treat other diseases.
In 1954, Szent-Gyorgyi won the prestigious Lasker Award from the American Heart Assn. for his work on the physiology of muscle contraction. The author of 10 books and more than 200 scientific papers, he did pioneering work on proteins that are keys to muscle activity.
More recently, he espoused a controversial theory on the bioelectronic nature of cancer that was not well-received by most researchers. The National Foundation for Cancer Research, in Bethesda, Md., for which Szent-Gyorgyi served as scientific director until earlier this year, supported his laboratory studies when he no longer could get money from the government and other sources.
Szent-Gyorgyi was a vocal proponent of disarmament and peace and opposed U.S. involvement in Vietnam. He wrote numerous articles and lectured for anti-war causes, and wrote books including “The Crazy Ape” and “What’s Next?” about the need for peace.
The first resident Hungarian to win the Nobel Prize, Szent-Gyorgyi was born in Budapest in 1893 to a family of minor nobility. He remained in Hungary throughout World War II, but spent the last two years in hiding because of his anti-Nazi sentiments and for speaking out on behalf of persecuted Jews.
At the end of the war, he was rescued by the Soviets and relocated to Moscow.
He was offered the presidency of the new Hungarian republic, but declined. Disillusioned with Soviet dominance of his country, Szent-Gyorgyi immigrated to the United States and settled in Woods Hole on Cape Cod. He became a U.S. citizen in 1955.
Szent-Gyorgyi is survived by his widow, the former Marcia Houston.