Honorary Members of the SBS
Professor Vesna Niketić (née Raičević) (Belgrade, 1947) graduated chemistry at The Faculty of Chemistry, University of Belgrade (1970). Soon after graduation she joined The Danish Institute of Protein Chemistry in Copenhagen (1971-1974) where she mastered the state-of-the-art techniques and methods of protein sequence determination (the forefront research at that time!). She joined Faculty of Chemistry in 1975 remaining there until her retirement (2012) passing through all positions, from teaching assistant to full professor.
Scientific activities of professor Niketić were centered mainly on three themes: (a) chemical and post-translational modifications of proteins, (b) prebiotic synthesis and chemical evolution, and (c) chemistry and biochemistry of nitrogen monoxide (NO).
It is worth noting that many of research was done and published in the most difficult recent period (1990-2000) for our country (experiencing inflation, civil war, UN sanctions, NATO bombardment, and associated shortages of many research supplies.)
Professor Niketic was actively engaged in teaching of a number of biochemical basic and advanced courses for undergraduate and graduate students of chemistry and biochemistry. She established Biochemistry of proteins and nucleic acids as one of the basic courses for biochemistry students, and Biochemistry and Biophysics of macromolecules for graduate students of biochemistry. She wrote the book Principles of structure and function of proteins (1995)1 which is still widely used as a textbook. In addition, she prepared a substantial amount of various teaching materials for the courses she held. She supervised diploma, magister and Ph.D theses of a number of excellent students and continued to follow closely their further progress into successful researches in academia or industry. She was engaged in many professional activities at the Faculty of Chemistry, particularly in establishing and organization of the Biochemistry study group.
Professor Niketić served to the Serbian Biochemical Society (SBS) from its beginning (1976) until her retirement. She was particularly engaged in consolidation of the Society after decomposition of former Yugoslavia and its registration into FEBS (1998). In years to come this brought to biochemistry researches in Serbia much benefit (just to mention substantial FEBS donation in instruments and literature and a number of stipends for conferences and visits of young scientists to research laboratories in Europe). Professor Niketić was elected a honorary member of SBS in 2013.
Dr Gordana Grubor-Lajšić (23. 9. 1949 – 29. 10. 2015), was Full Professor at the University of Novi Sad. She was born in Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina, SFR Yugoslavia) on the 23rd of September 1949. Prof. Grubor-Lajšić completed her primary school and Grammar school “Jovan Jovanović Zmaj” in Novi Sad. She obtained BSc. degree in chemistry in 1972 at the University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Sciences, she defended in 1976 her MSc. Thesis in biochemistry entitled “Hemoglobin of the common pheasant” at the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Sciences and her PhD thesis entitled “Biochemical survey the on system of cryoprotectants in insects – Ostrinia nubilalis” in 1984 at the University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Sciences. From 1977 until 1986 Professor Grubor-Lajšić worked at the Clinical Centre in Niš in the laboratory of nephrology as a biochemist and in 1986 she specialized in clinical biochemistry at the Medical Faculty, University of Niš.
At the Department of Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad, she was first appointed as a teaching assistant in biochemistry in 1973 and later as Assistant professor in 1986, Associate professor in 1991 and finally Full professor in 1996. Apart from teaching Biochemistry, as a fundamental course and she had introduced new courses such as Mechanisms of Ecological Adaptations, Clinical Biochemistry, Biochemistry of Diet and Nutrition, Biochemisty 2, Enzymes and metabolic regulation and many others at various levels of academic studies. She was one of the leading Professors who established new study programmes at the Faculty of Sciences – namely, Bachelor studies in Biochemistry in 2000 and Bachelor studies in Molecular Biology in 2003. Professor Grubor-Lajšić was an excellent educator, a strict Professor and mentor who was highly respected by her students. Overall, Professor Grubor-Lajšić mentored more than 50 BSc Theses, 10 Masters Theses and 9 PhD Theses.
The main focus of research for Professor Grubor-Lajšić was on insect cold hardiness, especially in a species of moth, the European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis. Her pioneer work on cryoprotective mechanisms in overwintering caterpillars of O. nubilalis resulted in her PhD thesis under the supervision of Professor Vera Planački. Later her research was focused on deciphering antioxidative mechanisms that govern insect diapause and cold hardiness. She conducted a significant number of mutual scientific experiments with her dear and respected colleagues – full professor Dr. Mihajlo Spasić and research professor Dr. Duško Blagojević, from the “Siniša Stanković” Institute for Biological Research in Belgrade. Moreover, in 1987, Gordana was a visiting Fulbright Scholar at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA working with Professor John H. Nordin on the biochemistry of insect diapause and overwintering. Later, in 1989, as a holder of a prestigious Research Fellowship of the Royal Society, Professor Grubor-Lajšić spent a year at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge,UK, undertaking collaborative research on insect cold hardiness with highly respected eco-physiologists, Dr. William Block, and Dr. Roger Worland. Gordana continued her productive research collaboration with BAS culminating in their participation on a joint European FP6 project on animal dormancies. This joint research on cold hardiness of arthropods was published in 11 original scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals as well as in a book chapter published by Springer-Verlag. Apart from insect eco-physiology, Gordana also participated in a range of bio-medical and veterinary research projects.
Overall, she published more than 40 research articles in international journals, 12 articles in domestic journals, 3 book chapters in international monographs and 2 academic textbooks in Serbian language. Professor Grubor-Lajšić participated in more than 10 research projects national and international and headed 4 projects. According to SCOPUS database, prof. Grubor-Lajšić has 990 citations and h-index 17 (as of 1st March 2022).
As a Professor, mentor and colleague, Gordana has left an unforgettable mark on the Faculty of Sciences (Novi Sad) and the Serbian Biochemical Society. She was an engaging, highly motivated and passionate scientist, a devoted educator and above all – a wonderful human. Her colleagues will remember her as an honest and reliable friend, always eager to listen and to help. She is greatly missed by all who had the good fortune to know her.
After finishing his Ph.D. (1986), professor Spasić worked in professor A. M. Michelson's group at the Institute for physicochemical biology (Institut de Biologie Phusico-Chimie) in Paris (1987-1988). He continued his scientific work at Institute for biological research “Siniša Stanković” in Belgrade that started in 1978. Besides scientific positions (from graduate researcher to scientific councilor) at the Institute, professor Spasić was a member of the Collegial management body (1986-1993), Steering Committee (1993-2005), Chairman of the department for Physiology, and chairman of a few projects of Ministry for science and technological development of Serbia. He worked as a professor at the University of Belgrade at the Faculty of Chemistry, Department of Biochemistry (from assistant professor to full professor), as well as on Ph.D. studies at Medical Faculty. during his teaching activities, he co-authored two books used as material for Biochemistry students.
Professor Spasić was the president of the Serbian Biochemical Society (2011-2017) and was honored with a Medal of Serbian Physiological Society 2018 for his contribution to society and science. Scientific papers of professor Spasić and his coworkers which counted over 190 and had more than 2400 citations contributed significantly to the concept of adaptive homeostasis.
Selected publications (10)