Karel Sláma, ESA Fellow (2001)

Dr. Karel Sláma, retired laboratory head and senior research scientist at the Institute of Entomology, Czech Academy of Sciences, was elected as Fellow in 2001. He is known for his work in insect physiology and endocrinology, particularly on juvenile hormone (JH) and its analogs.

Sláma was born on 17 December 1934 in Tichá, Frýdek-Místek, Czech Republic. He began his undergraduate studies in 1952 at Masaryk University in Brno, with an emphasis in biology and chemistry. He pursued his M.Sc. degree, defending a thesis on the Growth and total metabolism during development of sawflies, and graduated in 1957. He conducted his Ph.D. studies with Dr. V.J.A. Novák, a pioneer in the study of insect hormones, at the Institute of Entomology, Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Prague, defending his dissertation in 1961.

Sláma received a research fellowship to work from 1964–1965 with the late C.M. Williams of Harvard University and D.G. Shappirio of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, discovering plant-based JH activity in U.S. paper products, which started the development of hormonally-based pesticides. He returned in 1965 to the Institute of Entomology, CAS, to study the synthesis and biological activity of insect hormone analogues and mechanisms of insect hormone action. From 1985 to 1990, he worked at the Unit of Insect Chemical Ecology, Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, CAS. He became director of research and founder of the Laboratory of Ecological Pharmacology, INTERECO, in Prague in 1990. From September 1992 to February 1995, he served as head of the Institute of Entomology, CAS in ?eské Bud?jovice and managing director of the journal Acta entomologica bohemoslovaca, which became the European Journal of Entomology. After 1995, he conducted experimental work on the mode of action of insect hormones and synthetic hormonal analogues and their potential use in pharmacology.

During his scientific career, Sláma has given lectures at universities and research institutions all over the world, on topics including the mode of action of insect hormones and on innovative electronic methods for monitoring the action of drugs, hormones, and insecticides on insects. He has published 205 original research publications, several book chapters, and co-authored a monograph on the action of insect hormones and bioanalogues, published in 1974 by Springer-Verlag. He has written more than 120 patent applications, mainly in the field of chemical synthesis and practical use of insect hormones and their synthetic analogues in pharmacology and agriculture. He co-discovered phosphonate adenine derivatives with Dr. A. Holý, which have been largely used among the first pharmacological preparations against the HIV virus. He is fluent in Czech, Russian, English, German, French, and Polish.

Sláma is married to V?ra Slámová, emerita professor of mathematics. They have three daughters: Pavla Slámová-H?lová, an agricultural engineer in Prague; Martina Slámová-Phillips, an engineering economist in Portland, OR; and Tereza Slámová-Gueye, a medical doctor at the Charles University Clinic in Prague.

(updated March, 2015)