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Czech science loses two significant personalities

 
photo:  (sxc.hu)
 

Antonín Holý and Čestmír Šimáně, two significant personalities of Czech and world science, died soon after one another in July 2012. Professor Šimáně studied nuclear physics, while Professor Holý saved or at least prolonged the lives of thousands of people throughout the world thanks to his discoveries in the field of medicine and antiviral drugs.

 
 
Prof. Antonín Holý (1 September 1936 – 16 July 2012) was a Czech chemist and one of the most significant Czech natural scientists of the 20th century. He discovered a number of antiviral drugs used for curing HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, smallpox and mucosa of the eye. The drug Viread (tenofovir), which was developed on the basis of Holý’s research, is the most effective and accessible drug against AIDS today. Thanks to this medicine, AIDS has turned from a disease that practically invariably results in death into a serious disease, with which patients can live for tens of years. Holý also invented a drug against lymph node cancer.

A few days before his death, the American Food and Drug Administration authorised the use of Truvada, to which Holý contributed considerably. It could become the first officially approved medicine for preventing HIV in the United States. 

Holý is the author and co-author of more than a hundred publications and around sixty patents. The patents for pharmaceuticals from his laboratory are today an important part of the income of the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, where he worked practically all his life.

Prof. Čestmír Šimáně (9 May 1919 – 26 July 2012) is considered the founder of nuclear research in the Czech Republic. He studied in Paris under the Nobel Prize laureate for chemistry Frédéric Joliot-Curie. Until his death, he worked at the Nuclear Physics Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the CR in Řež. His scientific activities were focused on experimental nuclear physics and energetics, especially construction and utilisation of accelerators, construction of detectors of nuclear radiation, and nuclear reactors.

In 1948, he became the first employee of the Nuclear Physics Institute and established the Nuclear Physics Laboratory. He was the director of the Physics Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences and since 1955 the first director of the newly established Nuclear Physics Institute. He later directed the division of International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. At the time, he also worked as an interpreter during negotiations between Russian and American scientists. In 1973, he was elected the vice director of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubno near Moscow.
 
Author: Andrea Kábelová
 
Added: 04.10.2012
 
 
 

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