Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Prominent Poles

Andrew W. Schally (aka. Andrzej Wiktor Schally), Polish-American physician- endocrinologist, Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine 1977

Photo of Andrew Schally, physician

Born:  November 30, 1926, Wilno, Poland (presently: Vilnius, Lithuania)

Summary. Excerpts from the press release from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences:
“The discoveries of Roger Guillemin and Andrew Schally deal with another sector of peptide hormone physiology and medicine… Guillemin's and Schally's discoveries laid the foundations to modern hypothalamic research. The experiences from animal research was rapidly transferred to humans and brought into clinical work. Several new peptides were isolated from the hypothalamus, the foremost one probably being the first inhibitor of pituitary function: somatostatin, which decreases the production of pituitary growth hormone… The important discoveries by the 1977 Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine has led to a formidable development of their own fields of research. Further, they have opened new vistas within biological and medical research far outside the borders of their own spheres of interest.”

Early days. Father, Kazimierz Piotr Schally, was a pre-WWII Polish General and head of the Military Cabinet for Ignacy Moscicki, then President of Poland. Mother, Maria Lacka a Polish Army officer’s daughter. The whole family, included Andrew Schally’s younger sister, Halina, lived in the famous Tin-roof Palace (Palac pod Blacha) in Warsaw.
Andrew W. Schally wrote in his “Autobiography” published in 1977 by the From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1977, Editor Wilhelm Odelberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1978 :
“I was born in Wilno, Poland on November 30, 1926, being of Polish, Austro-Hungarian, French and Swedish ancestry. My father, a professional soldier trained in the military academies of Vienna, Austria and St. Cyr, France, had to leave his family when the Second World War broke out to fight with the Allied Forces. My life and outlook were influenced by the harsh childhood which I spent in the Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, but I was fortunate to survive the holocaust while living among the Jewish-Polish Community in Roumania. I used to speak Polish, Roumanian, Yiddish, Italian and some German and Russian, but I have almost completely forgotten them, and my French in which I used to excel is also now far from fluent. ..’
In 1945, he moved Together with his mother and sister Halina via Italy and France to England and Scotland., he fled the country to sojourn in Romania, Italy, France and Scotland, respectively. In 1946, he graduated from the Bridge Allen School, a Scottish high school and then, studied chemistry at the University of London until 1950. In 1950, he joined the National Institute of Medical Research Mill Hill in London, England. In May 1952, he moved to Montreal, Canada. In 1955, using in vitro systems, he demonstrated together with Dr. M. Saffran the presence of corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) in hypothalamic and neurohypophysial tissue. He received his doctorate in endocrinology from McGill University in 1957.

Research career. In 1957 he left for a research career in the United States and worked at Baylor University College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, until 1962. At Baylor, Schally became Assistant Professor of Physiology and a Senior Research Fellow of the U.S. Public Health Service. In December 1962, he was appointed Chief of the Endocrine and Polypeptide Laboratories at the VA Hospital in New Orleans and Associate Professor of Medicine at Tulane University, and, in 1966, Professor. He developed a whole new realm of knowledge concerning the brain’s control over body chemistry. His works were also concentrated on birth control methods and growth hormones. His life work encompasses over 2000 publications.

Honors, awards. He got: Van Meter Prize of the American Thyroid Association; Ayerst-Squibb Award of the U.S. Endocrine Society; William S. Middleton Award, the highest award of the VA; Charles Mickle Award of the University of Toronto; Gairdner Foundation International Award, Canada; Edward T. Tyler Award; Borden Award of the Association of American Medical Colleges; Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, and the Laude Award, Spain. In 1973 I was made a Senior Medical Investigator by the Veterans Administration, an honor reserved for only a few. In 1977, Andrew Schally was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine, along with Rosalyn Yalow and Roger Guillemin, for their discoveries concerning "the peptide hormone production of the brain.”, Borden Award No 1 and 2 in USA, distinctions and honours including the degrees if Doctor Honoris Causa at nearby 20 universities. The Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland presented him with a 600th anniversary medal, the American-Polish Medical Association - with a Doctor's Golden Medal commemorating Poland's millennium. On Professor Rudolf Klimek's request, the title of doctor honoris causa in medicine was bestowed on him by the Medical Academy of Cracow. Presently, he holds honorary doctorates from the Sorbonne, the universities of Madrid and McGill Montreal, and others

Private life. Schally has a son and a daughter from his marriage to Margaret Rachel White. He met his second wife, Ana Maria de Medeiros-Comaru, a young doctor, during his lecture tours in Brazil. Two years later, they got married. Dr Comaru-Schally shares the commitment and passion of her husband; she is personally involved in supervising the clinical research of hypothalamic analogues. He speaks Portuguese with his wife, at work it is English and Spanish, in the earlier days it was French, and Polish in his youth. He no longer speak Polish, he says it has been a long time since he spoke it, that he forgot (his younger sister Halina Schally-Ternynck who lives in Montreal is fluent in Polish). He is inquisitive and full of energy. Interviewed in 1977 by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm Schally said: “Now you are asking me about Poland. I grew in Poland, yet I no longer speak Polish. I have not spoken Polish in many years. My father after the war was engaged in anti-Communist activities. I am not involved in politics. For a long time I did not want to go to Poland. I was afraid I will get implicated by the authorities in some illegal activity: money change on the black market or something else. After having received the Nobel Prize, I went with my wife, my sister and her husband. I saw Warsaw, Cracow, Zakopane, Morskie Oko, is difficult for me to speak about Poland... The West has never been able to understand her. Maybe there should be more people of the Brzezinski caliber abroad. I highly value the Polish Pope. He has been the best pope in five hundred years. It is my wish to meet him in person” His wife Ana Maria Comaru-Schally said: ”I remember how, in 1977, we were invited to Brazil. We went to New Orleans directly from Stockholm where my husband received the Nobel Prize. We changed clothes and went to Brazil. At that time everyone was repeating the name of my husband. A lot of people phoned us. Among them there were also Poles - they wanted to invite us to a special ceremony organized just for us. We turned down most of the invitations. I said to my husband: "let us go to see them, if only for half an hour...". We were greeted in a beautiful residence. They spoke French, English; were sophisticated, educated. What we found most moving though was the fact that in the group there were my husbands father's soldiers. They had recollections of General Casimir Peter Schally whom they greatly valued. They told us how proud they were to find out his son became a Nobel Prize winner. “

This article uses, among others, material from the Wikipedia article "Andrzej Schally" licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. :
Interview: Ziolkowska-Boehm
New York Times

Return to home page:
Prominent Poles