President of the Slovak Society of Neuroscience deceased

31 August 2007


31 August, 2007 in FENS News

President of the Slovak Society of Neuroscience deceased

Prof. Jozef Mar?ala M.D., D.Sc., founder and acting head of Slovak Society of Neuroscience, one of the pillars of neurosciences in Slovakia, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away on August 26, 2007.

Professor Mar?ala was born in 1929 in a small mountain village Bystrička in Slovakia. Since 1950 he studied at the Medical Faculty of Charles University in Prague. From the very beginning, he specialized in the field of comparative neuroanatomy under the leadership of Prof. Borovanský. He made a lasting contribution to the field of study when, in 1960, he prepared the first stereotaxic atlas of the small laboratory animals, which is still used in many laboratories in Slovakia and abroad.Prof. Mar?ala moved to Ko?ice, Slovakia in 1961 to become the head of the Department of Histology and Embryology of the Medical School. In 1969 he became director of the Institute of Experimental Biology of the Slovak Academy of Science (SAS). Under his leadership the Institute was oriented more towards research of the nervous system, in 1976 it was renamed to the Institute of Neurobiology. He was director of the Institute until 1999.Prof. Mar?ala always tried to link research with practical applications in the area of clinical medicine. A notable example is his contribution to introduction of surgical method called trigemine tractotomy, which enables the surgical treatment of neuralgy of the trigeminal nerve. An even more significant example is the application of epidural cooling of the spinal cord, based on the investigation of primary pathophysiological mechanisms. This method was first applied successfully in Mayo Clinic in Boston and later it was adopted by the hospitals in USA and Japan.Prof. Mar?ala published more than 230 scientific papers, and his results were cited more than 1300 times. He was also author of 7 books and monographies, and his stereotaxic atlas had been republished several times. He was also great educator. For many years he lectured at the medical schools in Slovakia, he also trained many postgradual students.Prof. Mar?ala, as a great authority in neurosciences in Slovakia, initiated, in 2005, creation of The Slovak Society for Neuroscience. He was elected as the first head of the society, and he led the society until now.The significant contribution of Prof. Mar?ala to the area of neuroscience has received wide national and international recognition. He was awarded by the several distinguished awards: in 1979 the Gold Plaquette of SAS, in 1988 the National Award of Slovak Republic, in 1999 the Gold Medal of SAS, and in 2004 the Award of Slovak Ministry of Education.Until his last days, Prof. Mar?ala remained physically and intellectually strong and full of new research project ideas. He had very precious quality to spread his dedication and enthusiasm for scientific work to his coworkers and people in his vicinity. He will be missed greatly by his coworkers, and by the whole scientific community in Slovakia, and abroad.