THURSday December 14th, 2017

Annual Fundraising Gala and Dinner

by Bruce S McEwens, Rockefeller University

What is Stress and When Is Stress Good For You?

Bruce S. McEwen obtained his Ph.D. in Cell Biology in 1964 from The Rockefeller University.  He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  He served as President of the Society for Neuroscience in 1997-98.

Abstract Stress pervades our lives. We become anxious when we hear of violence, chaos or discord. And, in our relatively secure world, the pace of life and its demands often lead us to feel that there is too much to do in too little time. This disrupts our natural biological rhythms and encourages unhealthy behaviors, such as eating too much of the wrong things, neglecting exercise and missing out on sleep.  Hormones like cortisol and adrenalin and the metabolic and immune systems react to a changing world  and help us adapt (“allostasis”) but these same systems accelerate disease processes when overused or dysregulated amongst themselves, as also in the case as a result of health damaging behaviors (“allostatic load/overload”).  The brain is the central organ of stress and the ability to adapt to stress because it perceives and determines what is threatening as well as the behavioral and physiological responses to a changing world. Brain circuits change and adapt under stress and recovery but can also "get stuck" and then need external interventions, as in anxiety and depressive disorders.  There are important sex differences in how the brain responds to stressors that are in urgent need of further exploration.  Moreover, adverse early life experiences, interacting with varients  (alleles) of certain genes, produce lasting effects on brain and body via epigenetic mechanisms.   While prevention is most important, the plasticity of the brain gives hope for therapies that take into consideration brain-body interactions.


Tuesday November 28th, 2017

Media in the 21st (Digital) Century

by Miklos Sarvary, PhD, Columbia Business School

This talk will argue that the rapid disruption of the media industry by the Internet, which started in the 1990s is similar to another media revolution a 100 years ago, then, fueled by the invention of Radio. We examine the implications of this analogy to understand what media landscape is likely to emerge as the digital revolution is coming to an end. What institutions will dominate this new media landscape and how will they impact our societies?


Miklos Sarvary is the Carson Family Professor of Business and Faculty Director of the Media and Technology Program at Columbia Business School. Miklos has joined CBS in 2012. Before that he was a faculty member at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School and INSEAD. Miklos' broad research agenda focuses on media and information marketing. His most recent papers are studying agenda setting, user-generated content, social network competition and online/mobile advertising. Previously, he worked on media and telecommunications competition. He is member of the Editorial Boards of Marketing Science, Quantitative Marketing and Economics, International Journal of Research in Marketing and Journal of Interactive Marketing. He has taught executive courses and consulted in various parts of the world for large corporations, including IBM, INTEL, Nokia, Alcatel, Samsung, Pearson, McKinsey & Co., Dun & Bradstreet and PwC. Prior to becoming an academic, he worked for IBM. He studied physics in Hungary’s Eotvos Lorand University, earned an MS in Statistics from Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris and a Ph.D. in Management from INSEAD.


Wherein lies the public interest? — Comparing meanings of ‘public utility’ in the Communications Act (1934) and the Telecommunications Act (1996)

by Bernat Ivancsics, PhD candidate, Columbia Journalism School


This talk will address twentieth-century media regulation in United States. In particular, it identifies two historical junctures where new media technologies, such as the radio, digital TV, and the internet, prompted policymakers and stakeholders to rethink the ‘public’ nature and ‘utility’ design of these technologies. In 1927 the Radio Act was passed by Congress, which incorporated the “public interest, convenience, and necessity” criterion to broadcast licensing. As it will be pointed out, the ‘public interest,’ this rhetorical chameleon, forever chewed its way into the legal, economic, and political reasoning around communications policy and media regulation in the country. Spanning over half a century, the 1936 Communications Act (CA) and the 1996 Telecommunications Act (TCA) employed ostensibly similar, but altogether antithetical, reasoning for their regulatory policies. Both CA and TCA marked the satisfaction and convenience of the ‘public interest’ as their aim, and yet ended up in two different corners of the regulatory cage by first reining in broadcasters in the 1930s but undoing most regulatory constraints in the 1990s. This presentation will query how the two pieces of legislation responded to the political and economic competition of content providers and network infrastructure companies at the two bookends of the twentieth century.


Bernat Ivancsics is a PhD candidate in communications at the Columbia Journalism School. A data journalist by training, he worked both as reporter covering business and energy for the Hartford Business Journal, and as a content curator and product manager at Microsoft’s MSN News. At Columbia, Bernat’s research focuses on the computational and data-processing methods and tools used by journalists in newsrooms today. More specifically, his research asks how journalistic expertise and authority are shaped by the radical restructuring of journalists’ working environment and information-gathering habits. Prior to enrolling in the PhD program in communications, Bernat graduated from the Master of Science program at Columbia’s Journalism School, where he was a student of the school’s first data concentration program and a sponsored scholar of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation.


Thursday November 9th, 2017

New Discoveries in the Science of Astrophysics: Why Do They Matter for Science and for Everyone


a panel discussion by distinguished researchers


Peter Levai (director general of Wigner Research Centre for Physics, Hungary)

Szabolcs Marka (associate professor, Department of Astronomy, Columbia University)

Zsuzsanna Marka (associate research scientist, Columbia University


Moderator: Gabor Takacs-Carvalho (science and technology attaché of Hungary)

Thursday May 25th, 2017


by Dr. Péter Fónyad

Joseph PULITZER was born in Mako, Hungary, in 1847 and died in the US, in 1911. Many people know of the Pulitzer Prize but who is the man behind the prize? He was a Hungarian-American newspaper publisher at the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the New York World. In 1864, at the age of 17, Pulitzer arrived in America to fight in the Civil War, without a penny in his pocket or without knowing a word of English. 

After many years of begging, he fought his way up to become one of the richest and most influential men in America. He created modern journalism and fought for freedom of the press and democracy. Pulitzer crusaded against big business and corruption. The Columbia School of Journalism was founded from his donation. Pulitzer helped set the pattern of the modern newspaper and created a journalistic style that is still used today. He helped in keeping the Statue of Liberty in New York and founded the prestigious Pulitzer Prizes which were first awarded in 1917.


About the speaker: Dr. Péter FÓNYAD

Dr Fónyad was born in Hungary, in 1941. After high school and technical school, he worked a few years as an engineer until in 1967, he escaped from socialist Hungary to Vienna. In 1968 he moved to Stockholm, Sweden received his medical degree at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. He worked as a medical doctor in several hospitals in Stockholm and as a doctor for the Swedish government, until he retired at 70. Dr Fónyad remained active after retirement and he is extensively studying the role of Hungarians in the American Civil War.

FridayApril 7, 2017


Our inner world- enriched by arts-stimulates learning, memory, creativity

by Tamas Freund

Freund’s mentors in the early eighties were the eminent neuroanatomists, Pe- ter Somogyi and János Szentágothai. With such mentors it is not surprising that he devoted his a ention to the study of cortical and hippocampal in- terneurons, and started a series of stud- ies on the qualitative and quantitative characterization of these cells. He made a signi cant discovery regarding the mechanism how pacemaker neurons in the septal region induce hippocampal theta oscillation (Freund and Antal, Nature, 1988), he demonstrated that these pacemaker cells are GABAer- gic, inhibitory, and selectively inner- vate GABAergic interneurons in the hippocampus, thereby synchronizing principal cell activity rhythmically at theta frequency. He developed a comfined septal-hippocampal slice preparation in which they provided direct electrophysiological evidence – in col- laboration with Katalin Tóth and Richard Miles – that indeed, the mechanism of septal control of hippocampal theta oscillation is disinhibition. ey went on to investigate the interplay between identi ed septal pacemaker units and hippocampal activity pa erns under various levels of sleep and anaesthesia. eir data explained why and how the ring of di erent interneuron types are coupled to di erent phases of hip- pocampal theta oscillations. ey also revealed how serotonergic neurons in the raphe nuclei in uence hippocam- pal populations discharge pa erns via the innervation of local GABAergic interneurons. ese experiments re- sulted in a fundamental discovery pub- lished in Science. More recently, Dr. Freund set out to analyse the structure and function of novel synaptic and ex- trasynaptic communication channels between neurons at the molecular level, with particular a ention to endocannabinoid signaling, which led to several seminal papers in the eld. Together with Dr. Buzsaki, they published a re- view about interneurons (Freund and Buzsaki, Hippocampus, 1996), which has been considered the most in uen- tial monograph in the eld, providing a comprehensive description and clas- si cation of inhibitory neurons by synthesizing knowledge from physiologi- cal, anatomical, pharmacological and neurochemical studies. is review re- ceived more than 2000 citations in the literature, and although 21 years old, it is still quoted over 100 times per year. Both his past achievements and his on- going studies represent conceptually novel steps towards uncovering: i) new molecular pathways in the communication of nerve cells, ii) the identity and principles of connectivity of the nerve cells that build up the circuitry, and iii) the generation of network ac- tivity pa erns by these circuitries that underlie various stages of information processing and storage in the brain. ese ndings shed new light not only on the normal operations of brain ar- eas, namely the hippocampus, but also on several of its disorders at the mo- lecular, or cellular or network levels, including epilepsy, anxiety, Parkinsons disease and ischemic cell death.

He invested considerable time and e orts to work for the entire neuro- science community in Europe and worldwide, rst as a member of the Executive Commi ee of IBRO (Inter- national Brain Research Organization: the world federation of neuroscien- tists) from 1998, as well as the found- ing chairman of its Central and Eastern European Regional Commi ee, then from 2002 as member of the Executive Commi ee, and from 2004-2006 as President of FENS, the Federation of Europan Neuroscience Societies. He serves as member of President Barro- so’s Science and Technology Advisory Council in the EU (2013-2014). He is section editor of two major interna- tional journals (Science Advances and Hippocampus), as well as Editorial Board member of seven others.

The major prizes and awards he received include: the Demuth Award (Switzerland, 1991), the KRIEG Cor- tidal Discoverer Award and the Cajal Medal of the Cajal Club (1998, U.S.A.), the Kemali Foundation Award (1998, FENS Forum, Berlin), the Bolyai Prize (2000, Hungary), the Honoris Causa Pro Sciencia Gold Medal (2003), the Széchenyi Prize, (2005, Hungarian Re- public), the Semmelweis Award (2007), the Scientist of the Year Award of the Sci- ence Writers Club of Hungary (2007), the Kavli Distinguished International Scientist Lecture, (2007, Soc. for Neu- rosci. USA), Pro Doctorandis Award (2009, Federation of Doctoral Students of Hungary). Prima Primissima Award (2013). Most recently, together with Professors Buzsaki and Somogyi, he re- ceived the Brain-Prize 2011, established by the Grete Lundbeck Foundation in Denmark, which is a 1 million Euro per- sonal prize, considered by some as the Nobel Prize in the neurosciences.

Currently, Tamás Freund is the di- rector of the Institute of Experimen- tal Medicine, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and Chairman of the Neu- robiology Department of the Peter Pazmany Catholic University. He has been elected Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Academia Europaea (London), the German Academy of Sciences Leop- oldina, the Academia Scientiarum et Artium Europaea, and the Hungari- an Academy of Sciences. In 2014 he has been elected vice-president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. 


Friday April 7, 2017

2nd Conference of teh Association of Hungarian-American Academicians

1:-1:20 Acs Zoltan, George Mason University: The Digital Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Mathematical, Physical and Earth Sciences
1:20-1:40 Tardos Eva, Cornell University: Selfish Routing and the Price of Anarchy
1:40-2:00 Bartos Imre, Columbia University*: Black Holes and Gravitational Waves
2:00-2:20 Meszaros Peter, Pennsylvania State University: Black Holes, Cosmic Rays and Neutrinos: Messengers from the Deep Universe
2:20-2:40 Porkolab Miklos, MIT: Demonstrating the Scientific Feasibility of Fusion Energy: a Grand Challenge in Science and Technology
2:40-3:00 Sztipanovits Janos, Vanderbilt University: Cyber-Physical Systems
3:00-3:20 Hussar Rudolf, Washington University: Atmospheric Aerosols in the Earth System

Coffee Break

Medical Sciences
3:40-4:00 Mezey Eva, NIH: Therapeutic Use of Human Bone Marrow Cells to Modulate the Immune System
4:00-4:20 Szabo Sandor, UC, Irvine, New Molecular and Cellular Elements in Ulcer Pathogenesis and Healing
4:20-4:40 Tigyi  J. GaborUniversity of Tennessee: Prevention of Cancer Metastasis by Targeting the Stroma
4:40-5:00 Nagy-Szakal DorottyaColumbia University: The Mind-Blowing Microbiome: the Role of Gut Microbes in Colonic Inflammation and Gut-Brain Axis

Coffee Break

Biology, Neurobiology and Neurology
5:20-5:40 Maliga Pal, Rutgers University*: The Promise of Synthetic Biology in Plants
540-6:00 Bodis-Wollner Ivan, State University of NY*: Retineal clues to the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease
6:-6:20    Mody Istvan, UCLA: The Other Side of Optogenetics: Fast and Reliable Detection of Neuronal Membrane Potential Changes with Light
6:20-6:40 Zaborszky Laszlo, Rutgers University*: How and What Tells Anatomy about Brain Function?

7:30-9:30 Dinner
FREUND Tamas, Vice President HAS: Our inner world- enriched by arts-stimulates learning, memory, creativity

Friday April 7, 2017

Taste of Science

Hosted by the Hungarian Scientific Society New York and the German Academic International Network (GAIN)

A taste of science: Scientific Flash-Presentations Paired With a Glass of Wine

Short flash-talks on your scientific project (3 minutes), paired with a glass of wine introduced by a professional sommelier (3 minutes).


Lilla Horvath, MD

Mechanism of Autoimmunity in Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system (CNS). MS typically presents in early adulthood and it is more frequent in women. A hallmark of MS is aberrant immune responses resulting in the destruction of neuronal cell myelin sheathing, compromising conductivity. It also leads to axonal damage, loss of oligodendrocytes and astrocytic gliosis. Underlying this pathology are chronically activated immune cells, including T and B cells. What triggers this autoimmunity in MS is currently unknown.


Elena Lascu, AM, CCRP

Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia University

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS): Barriers to Diagnosis and Treatment

A multitude of ME/CFS outbreaks have been recorded over the last 200 years across the globe, and this illness has been known by many names. This devastating illness, which affects upward of 2.5 million Americans and 17 million individuals worldwide, has been widely dismissed as psychological or attention-seeking in nature by the medical profession until recent years. To date, no diagnostic tools or treatments exist. Here, the history, clinical presentation and persisting challenges of ME/CFS will be described.


Dr. Annette Hofmann

Assistant Professor, St. John’s University, The Peter J. Tobin College of Business School of Risk Management

Peer Effects in Risk Taking: Evidence from Germany

While it has been shown that individuals’ migration propensities, among other characteristics, significantly depend on their risk attitudes, empirical evidence on the behavioral consequences of interaction with peer groups on individual risk preferences (“peer effects”) is very limited so far. This study uses data from the German Socio-Economic Panel to analyze peer effects in risk taking by tracking the impact of the East-West migration on the willingness to take risks after the German reunification. We find strong empirical evidence for such peer effects. Interestingly, however, the hypothesis that these effects are stronger in more sociable communities is rejected.


Dr. Fabian Krämer

Visiting Scholar, Center for Science and Society, Columbia University in the City of New York

Before the "Two Cultures"

Few beliefs about the nature of academic knowledge appear to be less problematic and are more deeply ingrained than the assumption that a wide gulf divides the natural sciences and the humanities. The happy phrase “two cultures”, invented and devised by the British physical chemist and novelist C.P. Snow against the backdrop of the Cold War, has over the past decades assumed an a-historical ring. But like many other dichotomies that characterize modernity, this binary opposition is younger than we tend to think. While some of its roots go back to the early modern period, it was largely in the nineteenth century that academics began to develop a sense of belonging to either the sciences or the humanities. The emergence of the “great divide” constituted one of the most fundamental transformations in the history of knowledge. Its history remains to be written.


Dorottya Nagy-Szakal, MD, 

Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia University

Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

The human gut microbiome is the group of living microorganism living in our digestive tract. The microbiome is increasingly recognized for its ability to influence human metabolism, physiology and immune function. Besides the local effect on homeostasis and potential colonic inflammation in dysbiosis (altered microbiome), the microbiome plays a role modulating host behavior and mood. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is a procedure in which fecal matter is collected from a tested donor, and placed in a patient with dysbiosis by colonoscopy or enema. FMT is a low-risk and highly effective treatment for Clostridium difficile infection, and has also had promising results with gastrointestinal disorders, autoimmune and neuropsychiatric diseases.


Dr. Imre Bartos

Department of Physics, Columbia University

Black holes and what we can learn from them without falling in

I will discuss how we are observing the most voracious objects in the Universe, and how we recently caught two black colliding. I speculate that I will be paired with a dark red wine.

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Fundraising Gala and Dinner

Hosted by the Hungarian Medical Association of America

Zsolt Garami, MD, medical director of the Vascular Ultrasound Lab of Houston Methodist Hospital and board member of the HMAA will give a lecture on


(from HMAA Student Exchange Program to NASA)


Professor Laszlo Mechtler, MD, medical director of Dent Neurologic Institute at Roswell Park Cancer Institute will give a lecture on



A dinner with Hungarian regional wines and delicacies will be served to the generous donors supporting the HMAA.

All donations will benefit the HMAA and its Ivan M. Krisztinicz Memorial Student Exchange Program.


Dr. Garami has a clinical background in Radiology and is EU board certified in that specialty. He has also received further specialization in intracranial ultrasound in Europe and the United States. In recent years, Dr. Garami has become a nationally and internationally recognized leader in transcranial Doppler (TCD). Dr. Garami´s research focuses on understanding and treating intracranial flow disturbances that cause stroke. He has numerous publications on the monitoring of the cerebral vasculature during vascular procedures such as coronary artery bypass grafting, and carotid artery surgery. His current studies aim to reveal critical patterns of distal intracranial embolization in LVAD patients.


Dr. Laszlo Mechtler is board certified in Neurology, Neuro-Oncology, Headache Medicine, and Neuroimaging. He is a Professor of Neurology and Oncology at the State University of New York at Buffalo, the Director of the DENT Headache and Neuro-Oncology Center, the DENT Cannabis Clinic, and Chief of Neuro-Oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Dr. Mechtler’s training includes institutions such as Semmelweis University, MD Anderson and the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is currently the Medical Director of the DENT Neurologic Institute (DNI) which is the largest private neurological center in the United States. He is the past President of the American Society of Neuroimaging (ASN) and the Hungarian Medical Association of America (HMAA). He has authored 4 books and has written and presented over 80 chapters, articles, and abstracts. Dr. Mechtler is the current Associate Editor of Neuroimaging and Board Member of Continuum. He was appointed to sit on the State Athletic Medical Advisory Board by Governor Cuomo (2012-Current), he is the Neuroimaging Section Chair for the AAN, and he also sits on the Executive Committee for BrainPAC. Dr. Mechtler’s recent awards include the 2016 Medical Leader of the Year given by the MDA Association, 2016 Top Doc’s, as well as the 2016 Business First’s Lifetime Achievement in Neurological Research. He has lectured both nationally and internationally and is an expert in the fields of Headache Medicine, Neuroimaging, Neuro-Oncology, and Medical Cannabis.