IN MEMORIAM Academician Prof. Dr. Ljubiša Rakić

 

IN MEMORIAM

Academician Prof. Dr. Ljubiša Rakić
Vice President
European Center for Peace and Development (ECPD)
of the University for Peace est. by United Nations
(1931-2022)

 

Academician Ljubiša Rakić, a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts and one of the most distinguished Serbian scientists in the field of medicine, died in Belgrade on 14 October 2022 after a short illness. His wife, Veselinka Šušić-Rakić (1934—2018), was also a doctor and professor at FM-Belgrade and a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Their son Miodrag, is a doctor and professor at FM-Belgrade.

Ljubiša Rakić was born in Sarajevo on 11 April 1931 to mother Vukosava Nikolić and father Miodrag Rakić. He finished primary school in Sarajevo and graduated from high school in Belgrade in 1949. He graduated from the Faculty of Medicine (FM) in Belgrade in 1956 as one of the best students of his year. During his studies he was a demonstrator in physiology for 4 years and participated in research work.

After graduation he got a job as an assistant in the Department of Physiology and Biochemistry at FM-Belgrade, where he became assistant professor of physiology and biochemistry in 1961, associate professor in 1969 and full professor in 1974. Since 1971 he was professor of neurobiology at the Centre for Multidisciplinary Postgraduate Studies in the Field of Neurobiology at the University of Belgrade. From 1964 to 1979 he was director of the Biochemical Institute of FM-Belgrade. In the period from 1980 to 1984 he was Dean of FM-Belgrade. He retired in 1996 at the age of 65.

Professor Lj. Rakić studied scientifically and expanded his expertise at the Institute of Normal Physiology of Academician Pyotr Kuzmich Anokhin in Moscow (1956) and in the laboratory of Professors Horace Winchell Magoun and John Douglas French at the Brain Research Institute of the University of California, Los Angeles (1961-62), as well as аt several other laboratories in Yugoslavia and abroad.

He was a corresponding member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SASA) since 21 March 1974 and a full member since 15 December 1983. From 2008 to 2015, he was elected Vice-President of SASA, responsible for natural sciences. He has also been a member of a number of foreign academies and scientific societies, and was a member of the nominating group of the Nobel Committee for Science for two terms.

In the early 1960s he founded the Laboratory of Neurophysiology and Neurochemistry (now the Department of Neurobiology) at the Institute of Biological Research "Sinisa Stankovic" of the University of Belgrade and the International Laboratory for Brain Research in Kotor under the auspices of UNESCO and the National Institute of Health of the American government. He was scientific director of both research laboratories and collaborated for over five decades with dozens of scientists from many countries, especially from the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union.

Prof. Lj. Rakic is a member of numerous academies and scientific societies from the former Yugoslavia: the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts (1973), the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1984), the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Kosovo (1978), the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Republika Srpska (2011). He was an external member of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the Academy of Sciences of USSR, the present Russian Academy of Sciences (1982), the New York Academy of Sciences, the Euro-Asian Academy of Sciences, the European Academy of Sciences and Arts based in Salzburg and the European Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters based in Paris.

Professor Lj. Rakić had an extensive membership in professional associations. He was a member of the Society of Physiologists, Biochemists, Biophysicists, Clinical Neurologists-Physiologists of Yugoslavia, the International Brain Research Organisation IBRO, the Royal Society of Medicine in London and many other international societies for physiologists, biochemists, neurological sciences, neurochemists, biological psychiatry and other scientific organisations and associations. He was an honorary member of the All-Union Society of Physiologists and Biochemists of USSR Pavlov and the British Society for the Study of Brain and Behaviour. He was a member of the Scientific Society of Serbia since its foundation,  European Society of Neurological Sciences, European Society of Neurochemistry, Serbian Medical Society, American Physiological Society, Brain Research Association (now British Neuroscience Association - BNA), honorary member of the Advisory Committee for Medical Research of the World Health Organisation in Geneva.

Professor Rakić's research encompasses the field of the central nervous system (CNS) and refers broadly to the study of the neurological basis of behaviour. He focused his research on the study of fundamental neuronal processes - excitation and inhibition – and viewed them from the perspective of the parameters of several scientific disciplines - neurophysiological, biochemical, immunological, evolutionary and biological-molecular. In general, his research activities and published results can be divided into seven groups: (1) regulatory mechanisms of CNS stimulation and inhibition, (2) biochemical organisation of the CNS, (3) biological rhythms in the brain, especially the study of the biological basis of paradoxical sleep stages, (4) research on neuroimmunology and brain plasticity, (5) evolutionary biochemistry and physiology of the brain, especially the regulatory role of nervous system mediators in the processes of early embryogenesis, (6) blood-brain barrier, (7) CNS and cancer and tumour gene therapy.

He participated with reports as an invited speaker in many international congresses of physiologists, biochemists, neurochemists, neurologists, etc. He also gave many invited lectures at universities and scientific institutes in the USSR, USA, UK, France, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, Germany, Egypt, Israel, Libya and Albania. Many young scientists from Yugoslavia and abroad were trained in the laboratories of Prof. Lj. Rakić.

Prof. Lj. Rakić published more than 500 scientific papers in integral form in prestigious Serbian and foreign peer-review journals (two thirds in foreign journals), mainly in the field of central nervous system physiology, 6 monographs abroad and 3 domestically, as well as 5 textbooks in collaboration, which experienced a total of 16 editions.

Within these laboratories, successful international scientific cooperation was established with numerous laboratories in the world (USA, France, England, Italy, Czechoslovakia, etc.), especially with laboratories and institutes in the field of central nervous system physiology in Russia (Institute of Developmental Biology of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry of the Academy of Sciences of USSR, Leningrad, Pavlov Institute of Physiology of the Academy of Sciences of USSR, Leningrad; Brain Institute of the AMN of Russia, Moscow, Institute of Neurocybernetics of the State University in Rostov-on-Don, The Moscow Institute of Physiology, named after Prof. Ivan Sechenov, etc.). Most of the collaborations with Russian scientists took place within the framework of research projects that are part of the Protocol on Cooperation between the USSR Academy of Sciences and the Council of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of the SFR Yugoslavia.

Prof. Lj. Rakić was a participant in the Yugoslav liberation movement, a recipient of several state awards in the SFRY and the highest scientific awards in Serbia (Serbian Prize of the Seventh of July in 1968 and AVNOJ Award in 1977), as well as the Order of Labour Day Third Degree, the Order of Labour Day with Golden Wreath, the Order of ‘Fraternity and Unity’, the Peace Contribution Medal (1994) etc.

The Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts expresses also in this way, with the publication of the article In Memoriam in the MASA journal "Prilozi/Contributions", high respect and gratitude for the overall cooperation and support of Academician Ljubiša Rakić and the care and preservation of the memories of this great scientist and doyen of medicine in Serbia, the former Yugoslavia and beyond.

May he rest in peace and may his glory be eternal!

Prof. Dr. Doncho Donev

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