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Zsuzsanna Helyes

Scientific Director

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Personal information

Name: dr. Zsuzsanna Helyes
Date of birth: 25/04/1971
Nationality: Hungarian

Work Experience

1995-1999: PhD student, Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, Medical School, University of Pécs
2000-2006: assistant professor
2006-2009: senior lecturer
2010-2014: associate professor
2014- Full professor
2015- Part time researcher also at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Brain Research Programme B; group leader)
2012-2016: Scientific secretary of the János Szentágothai Research Center, University of Pécs
2017-: Scientific director of the János Szentágothai Research Center, University of Pécs

Education and Training

1995: “Summa cum laude” medical degree (MD; 69-68/1995)
1999: “Summa cum laude” Ph.D. degree in medical sciences at the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, University of Pécs. Title: Somatostatin, nociceptin and the anti-inflammatory effect of the stimulation of capsaicin-sensitive sensory nerve terminals (117-2/1999; date: 1st February, 1999)
2001: Specialization at Clinical Laboratory Works (813/2001)
2004: Specialization at Clinical Pharmacology (32/2004)
2007: University habilitation at Pharmacology
2010: D.Sc. degree in Medical Sciences. Title: Role of sensory neuropeptides in animal models of airway inflammation, arthritis and pain (4976)

Additional Information

Present research activity

Main fields of research:
We investigate the activation mechanisms of capsaicin-sensitive afferent nerves and neuro-immune interactions in inflammatory and nociceptive processes at the periphery and the central nervous system. We put special emphasis on characterizing the links between sensory nerves, neuropeptides, enzymes and immune cell-derived amine, lipid and glycoprotein mediators (eicosanoids, cytokines/chemokines). We have established sophisticated model systems and a broad range of high standard investigational techniques for translational research. Based on exploratory research results, we aim to identify novel targets for analgesic and anti-inflammatory therapy and develop new drugs.

Oral and poster presentations:
186 Hungarian language at national meetings; 259 English language at international meetings

Number of publications:
– 148 English and 4 Hungarian language original papers; 10 invited reviews, editorials, book chapters
– 158 conference presentation abstracts in cited international journals
– 2 Hungarian and 10 European/US/Finish/New-Zealand patents
– Cumulative impact factor: 484.81
– Total number of citations: 3838
– Hirsch-index: 35 (

Invited conference lectures26; invited visits and seminars: 10

International conference organizations: 4; organizing and chairing symposia: 18

Reviewer and evaluation committee activities:
– Regular reviewer contributions to international scientific journals (>50)
– Regular grant reviewer for OTKA (Hungarian Research Fund; 27) and NKFIH (National of Research and Innovation Office); regular PhD and habilitation reviewer and examiner, evaluation committee member at all medical faculties (29)
– 2008-2011, 2016-2019: member of the Neuroscience OTKA jury; 2012-2016: Experimental Medicine OTKA jury

R&D&I activity:
-Since 1995: involvement in several preclinical drug development projects
– 2008-: foundation of an R&D spin-off company, PharmInVivo Ltd. (; I am the executive manager, organize and coordinate preclinical drug development projects with industrial partners
– 2012-: member of the Innovation Committee of the Chamber of Commerce an Industry of Pécs-Baranya

Science-and research-organizing activities:
– Young Investigators’ Committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
– Member of the Neurobiology, Experimental Medicine and Pharmacy Work Teams of the local committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
– Member of the Editorial Board of Anti–Inflammatory and Anti-Allergic Agents in Medicinal Chemistry
– 2009-2013: Member of the Advisory Committee of the Vice Rector of Science and Innovation- Scientific Director of the Szentágothai Research Center of the University of Pécs, leader of the Molecular Pharmacology Research Group  ( Member of the Senate of the University of Pécs

Hungarian collaborations:
I established successful collaborations with several groups at our university, which resulted in many publications and grants: Departments of Anatomy, Pathophysiology and Gerontology, Immunology and Biotechnology, Pathology, Biochemistry and Medical Chemistry; Biology (Faculty of Sciences). I also started collaborations with clinicians for investigating human tissue samples. Studying the expression of mediators and target molecules in human biopsies in comparison with animal tissues obtained from disease models is important for translational research. I lead clinical-theoretical joined PhD programs with the Departments of Surgery, Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Orthopedics and Gastroenterology.

Collaborations with other university groups and industrial partners:
– Biostatin Ltd., Peptide-Biochemistry Research Group, Department of Organic Chemistry (Semmelweis University) on somatostatin and amine oxidase projects
– Richter-Gedeon Plc. (Budapest), Department of Neurology (Szeged) on migraine and pain models
– Departments of Pharmacology and Physiology (Debrecen): regulation of TRP channels and neuropeptides
– Biochemistry Research Institute of Szeged on interactions of the opioidergic and somatostatinergic systems

International academic collaborations:
– A. Gyenesei (Bioinformatics & Scientific Computing (BioComp) Facility at VBCF, Wien, Austria): network analysis of omics data in migraine and chronic neuropathic pain
– Z. Lackovic, I. Matak (Dept. Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapy, University of Zagreb, Croatia): migraine mechanisms, Botullinum toxin A mechanism of action
– P. Emson (The Babraham Institute, Cambridge, U.K.): sst4 receptor-deleted mice
– J. Quinn (School of Biomedical Sciences, Liverpool University, UK): tachykininergic mechanisms
– A. Berger (Ontario Cancer Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, Canada): tachykinin system
– H. Hashimoto, A. Baba (Dept. Physiology, Minamikawachi, Japan): PACAP
– Pierangelo Geppetti (University of Florence, Italy): donation of TRPA1 gene-deleted mice
– Jason J. McDougall-lal (Arthritis Research Group, University of Halifax, Canada): arthitis models
– Susan D. Brain (Centre for Cardiovascular Research, King’s College, London, UK): vasular regulation
– Barbara Koffler (University of Salzburg, Austria)- galanin and related sensory neuropeptides
– Andreas Goebel (Dept. of Anaesthesiology, University of Liverpool, UK)- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
– Daniel Keszthelyi (Dept. of Gastroenterology, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands)- visceral pain

Industrial partners: Pharmahungary, Szeged, Hungary; Nangenex, Budapest, Hungary; Richter.Gedeon Plc, Budapest, Hungary; Pharmnovo Ltd, Goteborg, Sweden

SROP research grants (funded by the EU and co-funded by the European Social Fund) where I was the principal investigator:
– 2011-2013: SROP-4.2.1.B-10/2/KONV-2010-0002 „Developing Competitiveness of Universities in the South Transdanubian Region” (coordinator/ leader of the Neuropharmacology team; 78 MHUF)
– 2012-2014: SROP-4.2.2.A-11/1/KONV Integrative investigation of neuropeptide-mediated mechanisms in vascular, inflammatory and immune functions” (coordinator, project leader: 706 MHUF)

Recent and ongoing grants where I was the principal investigator:
-2015-2017: UK Pain Relief Foundation (with A. Goebel on CRPS mechanisms): “Development of the Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Passive-Transfer-Trauma Model for Drug Research” (29,000 GBP= 19.8 MHUF)
-2014-2017: Hungarian Brain Research Programme; head of the MTA-PTE NAP B Chronic Pain Research Team (NAP-B; Hungarian Academy of Science; 163.28 MHUF)
– 2010-2012: SIOP-1.3.1.-10/1 „Developing infrastucture and informatics for improving the standards of higher education” to establish a complex in vivo imaging core facility (224 MHUF). The project is performed in this new Perkinelmer reference laboratory, which is the only one in Hungary and outstanding in Europe (
– 2008-2011: leader of the „Neuropharmacology” group within SROP-4.2.2/08/1/2008-0011 „Science, Please! Research Teams on Innovation” project (2 posdoc and a technician empoyment, 107 MHUF investments and 21.8 MHUF conference and consumable costs).
– 5 other Hungarian research grants: ETT 03-543/2003 (2003-2006; 2.4 MHUF); ETT 06-284/2006 (2006-2009; 2.4 MHUF); ETT 09-308/2009 (2009-2011; 4.8 MHUF); OTKA F046635 ÉLT (2007-2009, 5.8 MHUF); OTKA T73044 (2009-2012, 12.3 MHUF)

Gradual teaching activities:
I teach Pharmacology, Clinical Pharmacology, Problem-based Pharmacology (elective) in Hungarian and English for students of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, give lectures and seminars, do oral and written exams. I teach “Laboratory techniques in pharmacological research” for clinical laboratory researcher MSc (theoretical and practical; subject leader) and regular y supervise thesises (31).

Student research supervision: My student research fellows won several awards at local, national and European conferences, competitions.

Postgradual teaching and supervision:
I am a core member of the “Pharmaceutical Sciences” and academic staff member of the “Theoretical Medicine” Doctorial Schools of the University of Pecs. Presently 3 postdoc fellows and 6 PhD students work in my team. Sixteen people obtained PhD degrees under my supervision (

Scientific society memberships: Chamber of Hungarian Physicians; Hungarian Association of Pediatrics; European Neuropeptide Club; Hungarian Neuroscience Association; European Neuroscience Assosiation; Hungarian Society of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology (head of the experimental pharmacology section); Hungarian Physiology Society (steering committee member); Hungarian Pain Society

International conference organization: 2010:
I was the scientific secretary of Neuropeptides 2010
The 7th Joint Meeting of the European Neuropeptide Club and the American Summer Neuropeptide Conference; 21 – 24. June, 2010 Pécs, Hungary (; 2017: FENS Regional Meeting, September, Pécs

Major scientific awards, prizes, fellowships:
– 2000, 2002 and 2007: Publication awards of Lajos Kisfaludy Foundation
– 2002-2005 and 2007-2010: János Bolyai Research Fellowship (Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
– 2002, 2003: Young Investigator’s Awards of Sigma-Aldrich Ltd., Hungarian Pharmacological Society
– 2005: L’Oreal-Unesco research award for “Women in Science”
– 2005: “Talentum Award” of the Central European Talent-Searching Association
– 2009: “Excellence” Award at teaching Pharmacology
– 2011: Bolyai Plaquette Award
– 2011: Silver Medallion of the Hungarian Scientific Student Research Committee
– 2012: Pannon Scientific Day (Hungarian Academy of Sciences) – Best Presentation Award
– 2013: “Master Supervisor” Golden Medallion of the Hungarian Scientific Student Research Committee
– 2013: University of Pecs Medical School “Pro Facultate” Silver Award
– 2013: Hungarian Academy of Sciences “For science organizational activities” Award
– 2015: Hungarian Government “For the Hungarian Higher Education” state award

Full publication list:

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