Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi: Biography, Vitamin C & Quotes

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

In this lesson, you're going to learn about a rarely heard about but very prominent scientist of the 20th century by the name of Dr. Albert Szent-Györgi. You'll learn about his bravery and his brain.

Dr. Albert Szent-Györgi

When you think of vitamin C, you might think of Linus Pauling. But you need to think of someone else instead.

In this lesson, you're going to meet a super-hero of sorts. He was super-smart. He was super-brave. He took on the Nazis. He took on the communists. He took on massive challenges in science, and he succeeded. Who was this man? He was Dr. Albert Szent-Györgi, a Hungarian biochemist who contributed vast amounts of important knowledge to science during the 20th century. Let's learn more about his life and contributions in this lesson.

Early Life & Education

Albert Szent-Györgi was born on September 16th, 1893, in Budapest, Hungary. He was the son of a proprietor, Nicolaus von Szent-Györgi. His mom, Josefine, had a father and brother who taught anatomy at the University of Budapest.

Szent-Györgyi would enroll at this same university in 1911 and, not surprisingly, work in his uncle's lab. Szent-Györgyi would go on to earn his medical degree from the same university in 1917. Not before, however, interrupting his studies to fight during World War I on the Italian and Russian fronts. For his service, he earned the Silver Medal for Valor and was discharged after being wounded while seeing action.


During the 1920s and 1930s, Szent-Györgyi would learn, work, and teach in labs throughout the world, such as in Prague, Leiden, Berlin, Hamburg, Cambridge, and the Mayo Foundation, in the U.S. During this time, he focused his research on cell respiration. In the course of research within this field, he managed to find and isolate something known as ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. For his study of vitamin C as well as cellular respiration, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1937.


Szent-Györgyi spent some time in the late 1930s researching how muscles work. In fact, he's the man who discovered the proteins actin and myosin as a well as the actin-myosin complex; the one that helps our muscles move!

As Hitler's oppressive grip on power in Europe began to take hold, Szent-Györgyi helped Jewish friends escape Nazi Germany's tyranny. It is believed that, partly as a result of this, Hitler personally wanted to see that Szent-Györgyi be arrested. And so, Szent-Györgyi spent a lot of time hiding from the Nazis during World War II.

After WWII ended, Szent-Györgyi would be elected to the Hungarian parliament, where he opposed the growing influence of the communists. He ended up leaving Hungary as a result of the communists and emigrated to the United States in 1947. Here, he would go on to establish the Institute for Muscle Research at Woods Hole Marine Laboratory in Massachusetts where he'd engage in cancer research. In the 1970s, Szent-Györgyi co-founded that National Foundation for Cancer Research.

Szent-Györgyi would pass away on October 22nd, 1986, as a result of kidney failure in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

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