Bridging science and society: An interview with AE Budapest’s new Director, Péter Hegyi

Bridging science and society: An interview with AE Budapest’s new Director, Péter Hegyi

Academia Europaea’s Budapest Hub has welcomed its new Director, Péter Hegyi MAE.

About Péter Hegyi

Professor Péter Hegyi is Director for the Centre for Translational Medicine at University of Pécs, as well as the Centre for Translational Medicine Institute of Pancreatic Disorders at Semmelweis University in Budapest. His work in the field of pancreatology has established the critical role of duct cells in pancreatitis, as well as pioneering the exploration of the significance and causes of post-acute pancreatitis mortality.

In 2022 he became Chair of the Clinical and Veterinary Science Section at Academia Europea, after being elected to the Academy in 2018. He recently took up the role as Director of Academia Europaea’s Budapest Hub.

The interview

Congratulations on becoming the Budapest Hub’s new Director. Could you tell us a little about your background and career highlights so far?

“I am a gastroenterologist, internal medicine specialist and clinical pharmacologist.

I graduated as a doctor at the University of Szeged. In the early stages of my career, I was mainly involved in basic research, such as discoveries into the critical role of ductal cells in pancreatitis, and confirming that inhibition of CFTR by pancreatitis-inducing factors plays a critical role in the development of the disease. The University of Pécs provided an excellent opportunity to translate many of our basic findings into randomised clinical trials, promoting the utilisation of scientific results for patient benefits.

We established a 30-bed pancreas-only institute at Semmelweis University in 2021, with great honour and excitement. We were pioneers in clinical research, examining post-acute pancreatitis mortality and morbidity and revolutionising treatment protocols. I also have the privilege to be the leader and founder of the Hungarian Pancreatic Study Group, which is among the most productive study groups in the world.

I am also committed to the next generation’s scientific education. I established the National Academy of Scientist Education, a leading European scientific training centre that has involved over 2,700 high school, 120 university and more than 250 PhD students. This programme has attracted support from 15 Nobel laureates, underlining its global significance. For further details visit”

What inspired you to take on the role of Director of the Academia Europaea Budapest Hub?

“The opportunity to lead the Academia Europaea Budapest Hub is incredibly inspiring, because of its mission of integrating science into society and fostering global education and networking. My passion for interdisciplinary collaboration and my commitment to enhancing scientific impact align with the Hub’s vision. The chance to expand our influence through innovative projects in urban sustainability, science education, and translational medicine motivates me to drive our collective goals and make significant contributions to both the local and global academic communities.”

What do you see as the main priorities for the Budapest Hub?

“The main priorities for the Budapest Hub include advancing urban sustainability, revitalising science education, and enhancing regional collaboration within the Danube region. We aim to address key challenges such as resource-efficient growth and decarbonisation in urban areas, and we plan to implement cutting-edge educational methodologies that inspire future scientists. Moreover, widening European participation by fostering inclusivity in research and supporting early-career researchers is crucial. By focusing on these areas, we aim to create meaningful societal impact through interdisciplinary research and global partnerships.

Another critical priority is the development and expansion of the newly established Translational European Asian Network (TEA-NET). TEA-NET emphasises the importance of intercontinental collaboration, where the quality and quantity of scientific research have increased significantly recently. Given that almost every challenge in the life sciences is global, achieving results necessitates global cooperation. By leveraging TEA-NET, we aim to foster international research collaborations, driving advancements and innovations that can address these global challenges effectively. The network will facilitate knowledge exchange, resource sharing, and joint research projects, enabling us to harness the strengths of diverse scientific communities. Strengthening ties with Asian researchers will also help us stay at the forefront of scientific developments and ensure our initiatives have a broad and impactful reach. I would like to highlight the enthusiasm of Asian researchers too, in particular Professor Ling Qin, who is bringing together collaboration opportunities from the Asian side, including from prestigious institutions such as the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology.”

Can you tell us about some specific initiatives or projects you plan to implement in your role as Director?

“In my role as Director, I plan to implement several key initiatives. We will enhance our urban sustainability projects, by promoting transdisciplinary research and engaging with city policies to improve the quality of urban life. In science education, we will expand our digital learning tools and teacher training programmes bringing a focus on STEM disciplines in strong collaboration with the National Academy of Scientist Education. For the Danube Region, we will support initiatives that promote environmental sustainability and cultural understanding. Additionally, we will expand our scope to include health data science and bioinformatics, leveraging our established TEA-NET to foster global research collaborations.

For Hub operations, I would like to put together an interdisciplinary board and have a brainstorming meeting, so that everyone can come up with their creative ideas.”

What unique contributions do you think the Budapest Hub can make to the academic community within Hungary?

“The Budapest Hub can contribute uniquely to the European academic community by serving as a model of interdisciplinary collaboration and international partnership. By leveraging the collective strengths of European scientists and institutions, we can amplify our impact on science education, sustainability, and health sciences. Our initiatives will not only advance research, but also create practical solutions to societal challenges. Moreover, by fostering inclusivity and supporting early- career researchers, we can ensure a diverse and dynamic academic environment. The Hub’s role in connecting European academics with global networks will enhance knowledge exchange and innovation. Of course, success requires the dedication of many people, which has always been the strength of the Budapest Hub. Such work can only be done as a team and by working together.”

Find out more about the Academia Europaea Budapest Knowledge Hub.

4th June 2024. For further information please contact

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