V. Šimánek: Popularizing the results of basic and applied research should be the responsibility of scientists

28. 01. 2014

Prof. MUDr. RNDr. Vilím Šimánek, DrScInterview with influential Czech scientist, biochemist and doctor prof. MUDr. RNDr. Vilím Šimánek DrSc., from the Department of Medical Chemistry and Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine of the Palacký University in Olomouc.

Vilím Šimánek was born in 1942 in Olomouc. He studied at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Palacký University, field of study analytical chemistry (1966). He completed his doctoral studies at Charles University in Prague (dissertation topic: Chemistry of Isoquinolinium Alkaloids, 1972). In 1982, he earned the title M.D. at the Faculty of Medicine of the Palacký University. The title DrSc. Was awarded to him at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Prague (dissertation topic: Chemistry and Biological Activities of Isoquinoline Alkaloids, 1986). He is the author or co-author of 242 scientific works, six Czech patents and twelve utility models (data from 2010). His scientific research concerns the biological activity of secondary metabolites of plants and their impact on the human body.

On January 30, 2014 at 5PM, Prof. MUDr. RNDr. Vilím Šimánek, DrSc., is going to be guest of the meeting of public with the science and technology figure at cup of coffee, which is organized by the National Centre for the Popularization of Science and Technology in Society within SCSTI, in the framework of the popularization of science and technology entitled Science in the CENTRE.

M. Bartošovičová: Mr. Professor, could you begin by saying in a popular form the contents of your lecture on Nutraceuticals: When can they help and when can they harm?

V. ŠIMÁNEK: The aim of the lecture is to explain how minor food ingredients (vitamins, biominerals, color pigments and other secondary plant metabolites) may contribute to the upkeep of good body-health at various stages of its biological age and what is the evidence-based medicine view on food supplements, which are usually concentrated form of nutraceuticals.

M. B.: What had influenced you when deciding for studies at university?

V. ŠIMÁNEK: Having university education in one of the natural sciences.

M. B.: What was your path to the science?

V. ŠIMÁNEK: In the final year of my studies, I started working at the Department of Medical Chemistry within the Faculty of Medicine of the Palacký University in the laboratory of prof. František Šantavý. He was and still is my model university professor and scientist. There, I had the opportunity to meet with a number of world figures from chemistry of natural materials. Let me at least mention prof. Jozef Tomek from Slovakia. I worked for some of them and they were my professors. I am still actively associated with the Institute.

M. B.: It’s known about you that you had been initially researching the effect of Canadian cranberry on urinary tract infection in women. Based on your own illness, you have targeted your research on men. In 2010, the results of this research were also published in the Journal of Nutrition. What are the main results emerging from this research?

V. ŠIMÁNEK: The impetus for our clinical research of large cranberry (Vaccinum macrocarpon) was the fact that there were no studies of the effects of this functional food on men. For a considerable part of the male population are lower urinary tracts and benign prostatic hyperplasia symptoms a problem already in the fourth decennium. We have also included the famous herbal hepatoprotective silymarin into such oriented studies.

M. B.: Which of your other professional accomplishments do you consider important?  

V. ŠIMÁNEK: Some results of in vivo studies of isoquinoline alkaloids and their applications as additives for livestock feed.

M. B.: You have six inventions to your name. Could you mention at least some of them?

V. ŠIMÁNEK: Preparations for oral hygiene or food supplements containing combination of silymarin with other nutraceuticals. Patent protection has always been based on the results of clinical trials.

M. B.: Working as a scientist and professor at the university, you have a wealth of experience as a popularizer of science. What is your opinion on the popularization of science and what do you think would do good to the popularization of science.

V. ŠIMÁNEK: Popularizing the results of basic and applied research should be the responsibility of scientists. In today’s flood of information, of which part is deliberately misinterpreted, the popularization of science is one of the ways to affect the public opinion. However, any simplification in itself hides certain danger of its utilization, often with undesirable consequences. Among many examples, I would like to mention information about a new antitumor drug based on testing the effects of substances on tumor cell lines, in the better case on experimental animals.

This interview prepared: PhDr. Marta Bartošovičová

Photo source: www-vitalita-cz


Basic Medical and Pharmaceutical sciences

Natural sciences, Medical Sciences

Veda v CENTRE: Nutraceutiká. Kedy pomáhajú a kedy môžu škodiť?