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Peter Tetenyi 1924–2009
Péter Tétényi 1924�2009 Péter Tétényi, a remarkable scientist who worked with medicinal and aromatic plants, passed away on February 26, 2009. He was born in 1924, in Budapest. His qualification in horticulture was taken at Budapest University in 1947. In 1957, he became the director of the Hungarian Research Institute for Medicinal Plants. Under his leadership, this small Institute located in Budapest developed quickly, becoming a modern research facility equipped with new buildings, phytotrons (chambers designed to provide controlled environments for the study of plants), greenhouses, research fields, and analytical laboratories, relocated to Budakalász in 1973. The new Institute, and the results achieved by the scientists of the Institute, became recognized throughout the world for medicinal plant research. In addition to developing and supervising the Institute, Prof. Tétényi contributed to the development of many fields of research in the science of medicinal plants, including chemotaxonomy. This area of research was the main subject of his thesis, for which he was granted the degree Doctor of Biology of Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1964. His book, written in English and titled Intraspecific Chemical Taxa of Medicinal Plants (published in 1970 by Academic Publishers, Budapest), was one of the first scientific works on this subject and brought him widespread international interest and acclaim. In Budakalász, he created a new type of botanical garden based on the Dahlgren plant classification system, using modern tools for chemotaxonomic systematization. This unique garden arrangement has maintained high botanical value over the years and became preserved in Hungary as a national nature protectorate in 2003. Over the 40 years of his professional career, he published more than 200 articles and participated in the development of more than 35 medicinal plant cultivars and 20 patents. To promote medicinal plant science, he established a special journal, Herba Hungarica, in 1962. Until 1991, this professional journal provided the opportunity for both Hungarian and international scientists to publish articles on a variety of topics in the medicinal plant sciences, including agriculture, botany, biotechnology, genetics, chemistry, and others. He retired in 1991, but continued his chemotaxonomic work on a theoretical level until the last days of his life. Prof. Tétényi was not only an outstanding scientist but also a good politician. During the socialist era in Hungary, especially in the 1960s and early 1970s, he had the difficult and dangerous task of maintaining an open door to the West. He recognized the importance and advantages of international relations and carefully initiated cooperation with Western scientists. As a result of his efforts, using his personal scientific merits as a first step, a new era in cooperative science became possible. In 1972, he was elected vice-president of the Medicinal Plant Section of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), and 4 years later he became the president of the Section. His scientific merits were appreciated by the International Society of Horticultural Sciences (ISHS), and in 1982, he became the chairman of the Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Section within the Society. In the mid-1980s, he was one of the scientists who initiated the establishment of the International Council of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ICMAP) to harmonize the activity of different international societies interested in medicinal plant research. As a member of the Council, he played an important role in the organization of 3 WOCMAP Congresses held in Maastricht, the Netherlands; Mendoza, Argentina; and Chang Mai, Thailand. Through his efforts, Prof. Tétényi was able to build a fruitful cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) for recognition of medicinal plants, and he contributed to many development projects sponsored by these organizations in both Asia and Africa. In 1984, he became the chief editor of Newsletter of Medicinal Aromatic Plants, published through financial support of FAO and ISHS. This publication, edited by him until his retirement, became a main information source for those interested in happenings in the medicinal plants sector. Prof. Tétényi received recognition for his wide-ranging and successful work in the form of several Hungarian and international tributes and awards. Among others, he was elected to the corresponding member of the Royal Spanish Pharmaceutical Academy in 1978 and the French National Pharmaceutical Academy in 1980. He was a great personality and an outstanding scientist who contributed greatly to the development of medicinal plant sciences. We, his former colleagues and friends, will keep his memory alive. Prof. Tétényi is survived by his wife Magdolna Erdosi, PhD, and sons Péter Tétényi, PhD, and Tamás Tétényi, PhD, all of whom live in Budapest. �Prof. Jenö Bernáth, DSc, former vice-director of the Hungarian Research Institute for Medicinal Plants