Sándor Belák qualified as a veterinary surgeon from the University of Veterinary Sciences in Budapest (Hungary) in 1969. He worked at the headquarters of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Rome and at the Foot-and-Mouth-Disease Vaccine and Diagnostic Institute in Ankara (Turkey) before returning to the University of Veterinary Sciences in Budapest, where he obtained his PhD in 1978. In 1979, he worked for a year at the National Animal Disease Centre in Ames (Iowa, USA).
In 1985, he moved to Sweden where he was employed as Professor, research leader, and project coordinator. He was the founder of the Joint Research and Development Division of the Departments of Virology (National Veterinary Institute, SVA) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), acting also as academic lecturer and examiner in virology. He has been the supervisor of 24 PhD students and of a large number of MSc students.
In 1994 he defended his Doctor of Science (DSc) thesis at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and was elected as external member of this academy in 2007.
He has published over 310 papers in peer-reviewed journals, of which around 90 deal with feline infectious diseases. He has authored 12 books/book chapters and was Editorial Board member of four international journals. He acts as expert/reviewer in numerous research foundations.
He has earned the Centenary Award of the British Veterinary Association (1989), the George Fleming Literary Prize (2002), the Thuréus prize of the Royal Society of Sciences, Sweden (2004) and the Köves prize of the Hungarian Veterinary Association/Ceva (2011). In 2012 he was decorated with the Gold Medal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, KSLA “for outstanding research work in veterinary virology”. Carl XVI Gustaf, the King of Sweden delivered the award at the occasion of the 199th anniversary meeting of the Royal Academy in Stockholm on 28 January 2012 (see https://www.abcdcatsvets.org/prof-sandor-belak-was-awarded-the-gold-medal/).
Prof. Belák has coordinated three EU research consortia and has been partner group leader in additional 20 EU research projects as well as national projects on herpesviruses, coronaviruses, arteriviruses, influenza viruses, pestiviruses, molecular diagnostics, food safety and biosafety.
From 2006 to 2012 he was President of the European Society for Veterinary Virology (ESVV). He was member of the Board of the EC European Platform for Global Animal Health.
He headed the Animal World Health Organization’s (OIE) “Collaborating Centre for the Application of Biotechnology-based Diagnosis of Infectious Diseases in Veterinary Medicine “, with the tasks of international standardization, validation, and training. In 2015 he retired from SLU. Subsequently, he is active as expert of international organizations, like the EC and WOAH and as professor emeritus at SLU in Uppsala.
In September 2022 Prof. Sándor Belák was inaugurated as Doctor honoris causa at the Veterinary University in Budapest.
My list of 10 selected publications
- Egberink H, Frymus T, Hartmann K, Möstl K, Addie DD, Belák S, Boucraut-Baralon C, Hofmann-Lehmann R, Lloret A, Marsilio F, Pennisi MG, Tasker S, Thiry E, Truyen U, Hosie MJ.: Vaccination and Antibody Testing in Cats. 2022 Jul 22;14(8):1602. doi: 10.3390/v14081602
- Bali K, Bálint Á, Farsang A, Marton S, Nagy B, Kaszab E, Belák S, Palya V, Bányai K. Recombination Events Shape the Genomic Evolution of Infectious Bronchitis Virus in Europe. Viruses. 2021 Mar 24;13(4):535. doi: 10.3390/v13040535. PMID: 33804824.
- Mészáros I, Olasz F, Kádár-Hürkecz E, Bálint Á, Hornyák Á, Belák S, Zádori Z.: Cellular localisation of the proteins of region 3 of feline enteric coronavirus. Acta Vet Hung. 2018 Sep;66(3):493-508. doi: 10.1556/004.2018.044.
- Granberg F, Torresi C, Oggiano A, Malmberg M, Iscaro C, De Mia GM, Belák S.: Complete Genome Sequence of an African Swine Fever Virus Isolate from Sardinia, Italy. Genome Announc. 2016 Nov 17;4(6). pii: e01220-16. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.01220-16.
- Khaliq Z, Leijon M, Belák S, Komorowski J: Identification of combinational and singular genomic signatures of host adaptation in influenza H1N1 and H3N2 subtypes. BMC Genomics, 2016 Jul 29;17:529. doi: 10.1186/s12864-016-2919-4
- Liu L, Luo Y, Accensi F, Ganges L, Rodríguez F, Shan H, Ståhl K, Qiu HJ, Belák S.: Pre-Clinical Evaluation of a Real-Time PCR Assay on a Portable Instrument as a Possible Field Diagnostic Tool: Experiences from the Testing of Clinical Samples for African and Classical Swine Fever Viruses. Transboundary Emerging Diseases, 2016 Jun 16. doi: 10.1111/tbed.12538
- Bálint Á, Farsang A, Zádori Z, Belák S: Comparative in vivo analysis of recombinant type II feline coronaviruses with truncated and completed ORF3 region. PLoS One. 2014 Feb 20;9(2):e88758. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088758. eCollection 2014.
- Bálint Á, Farsang A, Szeredi L, Zádori Z, Belák S: Recombinant feline coronaviruses as vaccine candidates confer protection in SPF but not in conventional cats. Vet Microbiol. 2014 Mar 14;169(3-4):154-62. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2013.10.015. Epub 2013 Oct 29
- Belák S, Karlsson OE, Blomström AL, Berg M, Granberg F.: New viruses in veterinary medicine, detected by metagenomic approaches. Vet Microbiol. 2013. 165 (1-2):95-101. Review.
- Leijon M, Belák S: Review of a new molecular virus pathotyping method in the context of bioterrorism. Biosecur Bioterror. 2013 Sep; 11 Suppl 1:S241-6. doi: 10.1089/bsp.2012.0087. PMID: 23971812