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Vitamin C

The Full Story of Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi

Learn About the Vitamin-C Studying, Nobel-Prize Winning Co-Founder of NFCR


The Europe Years

Born in Budapest, Hungary on September 16, 1893, Albert Szent-Györgyi’s early life was filled with studying and interrupted by war. Szent-Györgyi was a medical student at the University of Budapest in 1911 and, during his studies, left to fight in World War I.  He was awarded the Silver Medal for Valour and was discharged after being wounded in action. He returned to medical school and graduated in 1917 as a doctor of medicine.

Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi Google Doodle

FUN FACT

On September 16, 2011, which would have been Albert Szent-Gyorgyi’s 118th Birthday, Google featured his accomplishments with a Google Doodle.

He studied, worked and taught in labs in Prague, Berlin, Leiden, Hamburg and Cambridge in the 1920s and 1930s. Dr. Szent-Györgyi’s early research was focused on the chemistry of cell respiration.

Dr. Szent-Györgyi was a pioneer and, like many explorers, he challenged the conventional thinking of the day to pursue his novel and promising ideas. He won the Nobel Prize for his study of vitamin C and cell respiration in 1937.

Coming to America

Dr. Szent-Györgyi was a Visiting Professor at Harvard University in 1936 and, earlier, conducted research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, but he spent the years during World War II in Europe. As World War II approached and fascists gained control of the Hungarian government, Dr. Szent-Györgyi helped Jewish friends flee the country. It is alleged Adolf Hitler personally ordered Dr. Szent-Györgyi’s arrest and, for part of the war, he was hiding from the Gestapo.

Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi in the labAfter the war ended, he returned to University of Budapest to establish a laboratory and was elected to the Hungarian parliament. However, his opposition to the communist influence in Budapest led to his emigration to the United States in 1947 where he founded the Institute for Muscle Research at Woods Hole Marine Laboratory in Massachusetts.

Cancer Research and Accolades

1971 Szent-Gyorgyi - Salisbury letter

Text of a letter from Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi to Frank Salisbury, after Salisbury made a donation to Dr. Szent-Györgyis research before they partnered on NFCR.

In the late 1950s, Dr. Szent-Györgyi developed a research interest in the biochemistry of cancer. And after meeting Franklin Salisbury, in 1973, they co-founded the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR). Since then, NFCR has provided more than $340 million in support of cancer research and prevention education programs.

Dr. Szent-Györgyi was a member of many scientific societies in different countries and received many honors, in addition to the Nobel Prize, including the Cameron Prize of Edinburgh University in 1946 and the Lasker Award in 1954.  He wrote ten books, including On Oxidation, Fermentation, Vitamins, Health and Disease (1939), Chemistry of Muscular Contraction (1947), Chemical Physiology of Contraction in Body and Heart Muscle (1953) and Bioenergetics (1957).

Dr. Szent-Györgyi passed away on October 22, 1986 of kidney failure at his home in Massachusetts. Through NFCR, his work continues to help individuals throughout the world.

Franklin Salisbury and Dr. Albert von Szent-Györgyi in 1982

Franklin Salisbury and Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi in 1982

The Albert Szent-Györgyi Prize

The Albert Szent-Györgyi PrizeNFCR is committed to upholding Dr. Szent-Györgyi’s vision of curing cancer through innovation and collaboration. As part of this commitment, NFCR has established this prize to honor scientists who have made extraordinary progress in cancer research and to focus attention on the essential role of basic research in finding the still elusive answers to the mysteries of cancer.

The Szent-Györgyi Prize serves to stimulate the quest for continued investment in the pioneering research that will produce scientific breakthroughs and lead to a deeper understanding of the scientific concepts behind the genetics and molecular makeup of cancer. By calling attention annually to achievements in this area, it is our desire to heighten awareness of the kind of research and discovery that must be accomplished
before we can hope to produce cancer cures.

Related Articles

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The Amazing Antioxidants in Artichokes

Often seen on menus in dips or on the top of salads, artichokes are a superfood in every sense of the word. They are a naturally rich source of vitamins A, K, C, B-6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc.

Research has shown that artichokes can help strengthen the immune system, lower cholesterol, detoxify the liver and may also protect against cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. Artichokes are high in fiber and can help ease digestive issues, reduce blood pressure and even eliminate hangovers.[i]

Cancer-Preventing Antioxidants

Artichokes contain the highest levels of antioxidants of any vegetable (polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins among others) and are loaded with an army of beneficial nutrients that can protect the body from cancer.
One artichoke supplies 25% of the recommended daily requirement of vitamin C. Studies have shown that people with high intakes of vitamin C from fruits and vegetables might have a lower risk of getting many types of cancer, including lung, breast and colon cancer.[ii]

Artichokes are also a great source of silymarin, a flavonoid antioxidant that may help prevent skin cancer.[iii]

Adding Artichokes to Your Diet

It’s easy to start eating more artichokes — you can grill them, bake them, add them to your favorite salads or pasta or team them up with spinach to make a delicious cancer-fighting dip.

Super Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Adapted from a recipe by the Mayo Clinic Staff

Ingredients

  • 2 cups artichoke hearts
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 4 cups chopped spinach
  • 1 teaspoon minced thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 cup white beans, prepared
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream

Directions

  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Put in glass or ceramic dish and bake at 350˚ F for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with whole-grain bread, crackers or vegetables for dipping.
artichoke-dip
Spinach-DYK-57407

[i] https://organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/health-benefits-of-artichokes.html

[ii] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/

[iii] http://foodfacts.mercola.com/artichoke.html

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Tasty Tomatoes: Anti-Cancer Attributes & A Healthy Recipe

While people debate the age-old question about whether tomatoes are a fruit or vegetable, here’s an undisputed fact: Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C and E, and the antioxidant lycopene.

Studies show that lycopene may help prevent prostate, lung, and stomach cancers. The powerful antioxidant can also help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Plus, there’s some evidence that cancers of the pancreas, colon and rectum, esophagus, oral cavity, breast and cervix can be reduced with increased lycopene intake.

 

What Types of Tomato Products Should I Eat?

Lycopene is a lipid-soluble compound, which means that consuming it with fat (oil) increases its bioavailability. So you will obtain more lycopene from the fresh tomatoes in your salad when they are paired with a full fat dressing ins
tead of reduced fat dressing.

Additionally, our bodies extract the most benefit of the lycopene from processed tomato products, such as tomato paste, sauce and ketchup. So keep the tomato-y condiments on hand for a healthy boost!

Need a tomato-heavy recipe suggestion? Try the delicious fish recipe below. Bon appétit!


Sear-Roasted Halibut with Tomato & Capers 

Adapted from Fine Cooking

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2  tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb thick skinless halibut fillet (or other mild white fish, like cod), cut into 4 even pieces
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the tomatoes, capers, oregano, vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
  3. Season the fish with 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and dredge it in the flour, shaking off the excess. Heat the oil in a 12-inch (preferably nonstick) ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the fish, evenly spaced, and cook without touching until it browns and releases easily from the pan (check by gently lifting one of the corners), about 3 minutes. Flip the fish, sprinkle the garlic around it, and cook until the garlic just starts to brown on some edges, about 30 seconds.
  4. Pour the tomato mixture around the fish and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until the fish is just firm to the touch and opaque when you pry open a thicker piece with a paring knife, 3 to 6 minutes.
  5. Let the fish rest for a couple of minutes and then serve with the tomato mixture spooned over it.

Related NFCR Research

NFCR-funded researcher Dr. Helmut Sies, a world-renowned scientist in the field of cancer prevention, discovered that lycopene has the highest antioxidant capacity of carotenoids (colorful pigments in fruits and vegetables).

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The First Successful Clinical Trial

Clinical Trial and translational medicine. Our CEO and son of the Founder of NFCR likes to talk history. Franklin C. Salisbury, Jr. notes the coincidence, perhaps, that the Salisbury name has long been associated with unheralded basic research that leads to major breakthroughs. Clinical trial and translational medicine –  bring work from lab to patient bedside and is not really a new trend.

HMS Salisbury site of first clinical trialThe HMS Salisbury was a 50 gun British Warship, built at East Cowes, Isle of Wight and launched  on January 29, 1746.  James Lind was the Royal Navy surgeon who studied treatments for scurvy “on board the Salisbury at sea” in 1747.1747 year of the first ever clinical trial

We all remember the story that lemons and oranges cured scurvy and was discovered aboard a navy vessel  but who besides our Franklin would think to connect HMS Salisbury with clinical trials done today. And yet, the comparison is an important one.

The Salisbury  was said to have some 30-40 members of the crew afflicted by scurvy.  “Yet the roll call shows at most one or two as sick during this entire voyage on which six men “departed this life”. This suggests a culture of official denial of sickness at sea, one of many possible reasons, perhaps, why Lind’s work was neglected says Graham Sutton in his essay James Lind aboard Salisbury (Sutton G (2004) James Lind aboard Salisbury)

Official Denial is an interesting phrase. One perhaps that has a place today in our world of blockbuster breakthroughs.There is an interesting bridge between Salisbury, Scurvy, Citrus, Vitamin C and the cancer research supported by NFCR. That connection is Albert Szent-Györgyi.

He was the co-founder of NFCR along with Franklin Salisbury’s dad. Szent-Györgyi was credited with discovering Vitamin C and received the Nobel Prize in 1937. He went on to state his belief that” Cancer is a disease that can be cured,” and the rest is history. For more than 43 years NFCR has been supporting basic lab research into the causes, prevention and treatment of cancer.  The Albert Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research is named in honor of Doctor Albert Szent-Györgyi and is a symbol of NFCR’s enduring commitment to uphold Dr. Szent-Györgyi’s vision of curing cancer through innovation and collaboration.

NFCR funded scientists can attest to the need for long term support of basic research. Today’s breakthroughs are often the result of decades of meticulous work built on the work of previous generations. Clinical trial make a difference.   The two men on board the Salisbury that were assigned to the citrus fruit treatment recovered. So too is our hope that those who participate in today’s clinical trials are the lucky ones.

 

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