Szombathely, 11 September 1956
Director of the Institute of Biochemistry of the BRC of the HAS („MTA”): 2004 -
György Pósfai graduated from secondary school at Nagy Lajos Grammar School in Szombathely (1971-1975). He obtained a summa cum laude Master’s degree at József Attila University, Szeged, in biology in the year 1981 (university years: 1976-1981). In 1983, he obtained a summa cum laude University Doctor and, in 1989, a PhD Degree with his work on the identification and description of the genes of restricting-modifying enzyme systems. His dissertation published in 2004 under the title „Genome Manipulation in the Escherichia coli Bacterium” earned him the doctoral degree of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences („MTA”).
Since 1981, Dr. Pósfai has been working for the Szeged Biological Research Centre of the HAS („MTA”). He was first appointed a group leader (in 1996), later Deputy Director (in 1998). Since 2004, he has been the Director of the Institute of Biochemistry of the BRC. Between 1986 and 1989, he spent two and a half years at Wisconsin University, USA, in the laboratory of Waclaw Szybalski, in a post-doctoral position. In the year 1991, he worked in the laboratory of Wilhelm Guschlbauer in Saclay, France. Between 1992 and 1994, he spent another two years in the USA, in the laboratory of Waclaw Szybalski, as a visiting researcher. In the year 1997, he spent another 3 months at Wisconsin University, this time working in the laboratory of Frederick Blattner. Between 1997 and 2003, he regularly lectured at Szeged University.
Research areas, scientific results:
Dr. Pósfai’s special fields are molecular biology, microbial genomics and synthetic biology. In the course of the first decade of his career, he dealt with the description of the molecular biology characteristics of restricting-modifying enzymes. His attention then shifted primarily to microbial genomics; he was a member of a team that identified the genome sequence of two bacteria – one being a pathogenic bacterium – and their comparative genomics analysis. Applying novel genome engineering procedures, he created bacteria with a simplified gene portfolio: the minimal coli cell, which can be used for both research and biotechnology purposes, is patent protected and is distributed by biotechnology organisations. At present, Dr. Pósfai’s research focus is on the minimisation of microbial cells through the application of synthetic biology methods and their optimisation for biotechnology purposes and the examination of the evolution of simplified cells.
Dr. Pósfai has participated in the work of several Hungarian scientific juries and committees (Hungarian Scientific Research Fund /„OTKA”/ juries; the Council of Academy Research Sites (“AKT”) Life Science Board of Trustees of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences („MTA”); the Council of Doctors of the TIK of Szeged University, which operates as a unit of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences („MTA”), etc.). He evaluates the articles of a number of international journals (Gene, Nucleic Acids Research, PNAS, Biotechniques) and has taken part in the elaboration of the synthetic biology programme recommendation of the European Science Foundation. He is a member of the American Microbiological Society and the Hungarian Biochemistry Association.
Scholarships, grants, prizes:
between 1981 and 1983, he had a scholarship granted by the Committee of Scientific Qualifications. In the year 1991, he won a scholarship from the French Ministry of Science and Technology as a visiting researcher. Between 1996 and 2000, he worked with the five-year International Research Scholar scholarship of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was granted a Széchenyi Professor Grant for the years 2000-2003. In 2006, he was awarded the Straub Plaque of the Szeged Biological Research Centre of the HAS („MTA”).
Dr. Pósfai is a co-owner of two international patents and the author of a book chapter. As of the end of 2008, he had 31 international scientific publications, their total impact factor being 186, and the number of independent references to these amounted to 2,035.
Besides his professional activities, he regularly publishes short stories in literary journals. Two books of his short stories have been published: “Friss Cipó-történetek (“Fresh Bread Stories”; in Kortárs, 1999), “Vadakrul (“About Game”; in Kortárs, 2002). In the year 2005, his book entitled “Magyarország legnagyobb fái – Dendrománia” (“Hungary’s Largest Trees – Dendromania”) was published by Alexandra Publishers, which is a collection of Hungary’s several hundred oldest trees, with textual descriptions and photographs.