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“Always One to Help Support Others” – Interview with Neuroscientist Dr. Henry Sershen about Professor Ábel Lajtha

Barbara Bene 2022.09.22.

Dr. Ábel Lajtha, renowned scientist and researcher in the field of neurochemistry

Professor Ábel Lajtha, one of the founding member of the Friends of Hungary Foundation, celebrates his 100th birthday today, on September 22. On the occasion of this huge landmark, Hungary Today asked Dr. Henry Sershen, one of Prof. Lajtha’s decades-long colleagues, about his memories of the professor.

Henry Sershen Ph.D. is a research scientist in the field of neurochemistry, working at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research. He is the Managing Editor of the journal Neurochemical Research, and he is also Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. Dr. Sershen is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the American Society for Neurochemistry, and the International Society for Neurochemistry.

He worked on many research and scientific publications together with Professor Lajtha over the years. As Dr. Sershen wrote in his message to Hungary Today, he has worked with Professor Lajtha for over 50 years and has celebrated the professor’s last 50 birthdays.

I take this opportunity to also thank him on a personal level, thanking him for his guidance, almost as a father, over this past half-century,”

he stated.

The scientist recalled that Dr. Lajtha’s guidance in research has extended not only to him but to many other young researchers from around the world who came to work at his institute. “He took a special pride in a research program between our institute and KOKI (editor’s note: Kísérleti Orvostudományi Kutatóintézet, Institute of Experimental Medicine) under the directorship of Professor E. Sylvester Vizi (editor’s note: Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Friends of Hungary Foundation), having helped the career development of many Hungarian researchers, many of whom I continue to have contact with and try to visit on my trips to Hungary,” Dr. Sershen wrote.

Dr. Henry Sershen is a dear student and close colleague of Professor Lajtha; he is also an internationally renowned researcher.

As Dr. Sershen says, those who have worked with Professor Lajtha not only thank him for his scientific guidance, but more importantly for his personal friendship.

Abel is a remarkable person and scientist, beyond science, he was an avid skier and tennis player – still playing tennis well into his 90s!”

Dr. Sershen also added that Lajtha is well versed in the arts, history, and literature. “I can remember a return trip from a scientific conference, on the car drive back to the airport, he had a stop planned to visit a museum exhibit on his itinerary – always time to squeeze in a museum visit.”

According to Dr. Sershen, age has not slowed Professor Lajtha down, and as a founding member he still continues to support the Friends of Hungary Foundation. “Not too long ago, he mentioned he was reviewing applications for research fellowships and had to make a trip to the Hungarian consulate in New York City.” As Dr. Sershen adds to his memories, Professor Lajtha’s Hungarian connection has also rubbed off on him as he has also joined the Friends of Hungary Foundation and has a Hungarian wife.

Dr. Lajtha has always been someone who wanted to help support others, writes Dr. Sershen, adding that over his research career, the professor has been the founding member, or has been elected to leadership positions in many scientific organizations such as the American Society of Neurochemistry and the International Society of Neurochemistry.

As Dr. Sershen wrote to Hungary Today: “Let’s all wish Ábel Lajtha a Happy 100th Birthday – Boldog születésnapot!”

Featured photo via Semmelweis.hu

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