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Laszlo Gyermek (1926-2017)
By Joseph Knoll

Laszlo Gyermek was born in Budapest, Hungary, on March 15, 1926. In 1944, he entered the Faculty of Medicine, Pazmany Peter University, where he earned his MD in 1950 and PhD in pharmacology in 1955.

            Laszlo Gyermek was a hard and efficiently working scientist. He published more than 280 papers in the fields of cholinergic, serotoninergic, anesthetic- and hormone related pharmacology, and in neuromuscular blocking agents-related anesthesiology research.

In 1948 as a student, Professor Bela Issekutz, Head of the Department of Pharmacology, invited him to join his research staff. He published with Bela Issekutz his first paper in the Archieves internationales de pharmacodynamie et the therapie in 1949 in German. From 1950, he published his papers in English. During the first full year in the laboratory in 1950, he published four papers (one in Nature); in 1951, eight papers; in 1952, eight papers; in 1953, six papers (one in Nature); in 1954, three papers; in 1955, 10 papers (one in Nature and one in The Lancet).

            In 1956, the year of the Hungarian Revolution, Laszlo Gyermek published only one paper and in 1957 he immigrated to the United States.

            Unfortunately, in the years (1950-1956) when Laszlo Gyermek had academic appointments in pharmacology in Hungary, the country was isolated from the Western world’s mainstream science. His published Hungarian papers remained largely unnoticed.

            In the United States, he became first affiliated with the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago, as Assistant Professor of Pharmacology (1957-1960). He published his first two papers in the United States on muscarone and muscarine derivatives in 1960 with Professor Klaus Unna.

            He served from 1960-1962 as Senior Pharmacologist with Geigy Research Laboratories in Ardsley, NY, and from 1962-1968 with the Syntex Corporation in Palo Alto, CA, as Associate Director of Biological Research. He published six papers in 1960; in 1961, three papers (one in Nature); in 1962, three papers; in 1963, three papers; in 1964, three papers; in 1965, one paper; in 1966, two papers; in 1967, two papers; and in 1968, for papers (one in The Lancet).

            Laszlo Gyermek, from 1966 until 1968, was Resident of Anesthesia at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. He served there as Fellow of Clinical Pharmacology, Lecturer in Pharmacology and Clinical Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology. He was engaged in the clinical practice of Anesthesiology in Northern California and became Associate Professor of Anesthesia in Residence at the University of California, Davis, CA (1975-1976).

            After continuing clinical practice and clinical research until 1982, he spent two years in Saudi Arabia as Staff Anesthesiologist at the Al Hada Hospital in Taif, managed by the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation.

            After his return to the US, he continued with Anesthesia patient care, teaching and research at the Veterans Administration Hospital and University of New Mexico in Albuquerque from 1984 until 1986. From 1986 through 2003 he served as Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA. He administered/supervised 15,000 anesthesia procedures.

            Laszlo Gyermek was not only a talented, productive scientist, but also an unusually cultured person. He traveled all over the world; wrote fascinating travelogues; inherited the painting talent characteristic to his family; and as a type of enviable relaxation, he created marvelous copies of Monet’s famous series of cathedrals. He was also an expert in wine tasting and wine making; was at home in art photography, as well as in classical music; and cultivated sports (tennis, skiing, sport-flying).

            Laszlo Gyermek was member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Worldwide Hungarian Medical Academy. He was member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists; the American Society of Anesthesiologist Committee on Art Exhibits; the Collegium Internationale Neuropychopharmacologicum (CINP); the European Society of Anesthesiologists; the International Anesthesia Research Society; the Serotonin Club and so on.

            The International Network for the History of Neuropsychopharmacology lost with Laszlo Gyermek one of the pioneers in the field of neuropharmacology.


November 23, 2017