June, 2013 – First Conference on: "The Evaluation and Funding of Science" at the Bohemian National Hall in New York, NY.


June, 2014Second Annual Conference in collaboration with the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Pardubice, and with support of the Library of Václav Havel – Pardubice (Castle) June 13 – 15, 2014.

Pardubice June 13 - 15, 2014

Organized in collaboration with the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Pardubice along with the support of the Library of Václav Havel and others.


June 20153rd Annual Conference at the Bohemian National Hall, New York, NY.

The third annual conference of the Comenius Academic Club opened in New York City at Bohemian National Hall on June 19, 2015 to an exhibit sponsored by the National Pedagogical Museum of Jan Amos Komensky in Prague:"Education for all: The Legacy of J.A.Comenius to the world".

At the opening of the exhibit, Marketa Pankova, the Director of the museum awarded Comenius memorial medals to two CAC club members: Drs. Zdenek David and Vlado Simko, as well as the Hon. Rochelle Hendricks, Secretary of Higher Education of the State of New Jersey. A musical interlude in the program was filled by a concert of Karel Raska IV (horn) and Magdalena Raska (violin) accompanied by piano virtuoso Karen Delavan.

Saturday morning, members and guests gathered for a session on the Legacy of the Bohemian Reformation chaired by Ivo Riha. In the afternoon a session addressing Current Problems of Educational Systems was chaired by Marketa Pankova. A most provocative lecture was presented by Barron Boyd (Rhodes College, Memphis, TN) who addressed current problems of American liberal arts education and speculated on how it would be viewed by J.A. Comenius today. The Hon. Secretary Hendricks presented an analysis of public education system of the State of New Jersey, often described as being among the best in the United States.

A discussion of the current system of evaluation and funding of science in the Czech Republic was introduced by Jiri Malek in the next session. A very active and stimulating discussion followed with diverse and conflicting opinions of scientists from the Universities and the Academy of Sciences being readily evident. In summary, however,  the new system was viewed positively and as an improvement over past efforts.

Sunday morning's session was devoted to the Impacts of Chemistry on Society was chaired by Karel Raska. Jan Vilcek of New York University introduced the audience to a new class of drugs against autoimmune diseases and stressed the many contributions of immigrants to American science. Jan Konvalinka and Marcela Krecmerova of the Institute of Organic Chemistry  and Biochemistry of the Academy of Sciences described significant contributions of Czech chemists in the development of drugs against the HIV virus. Advances in parasitology was discussed by Libor Grubhoffer and interesting issues of chemical technology were addressed by Jiri Drahos and Jiri Malek.

Participants expressed enthusiasm for the eclectic nature of the meeting, the exhibit of "Education for All" under the auspices of the National Pedagogical Museum of Jan Amos Komensky and the outstanding musical interlude provided by Karel Raska IV (horn) and Magdalena Raska (violin) and piano virtuoso Karen Delavan.
Planning for next year's meeting (2016) in Ceske Budejovice, CR has already begun. We'll look forward to seeing you there!

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The 4th Conference of the Comenius Academic Club.

The 4th conference of the Comenius Academic Club is behind us. The Club is grateful to the University of Pardubice for their support of the conference and its infrastructural basis. Moderators of all panels should be commended for the job well done.

About 50 participants met in the beautifully reconstructed Dačický dům in Kutná Hora. The Mayor of the town who attended the conference commented that although the reconstruction included a complex air handling system, the airconditioning was ommitted..."we will have to do something about it..." Indeed during the first two days there was a truly tropical weather, but it did not affect the enthusiasm and attendance of all sessions. The lectures stimulated lively and often long discussion.

The atmosphere of the meeting site was further enhanced by the simultaneous "Silver festival" with crowds of people in medieval costumes filling the historic town.

Conference participants also had an opportunity to explore the cultural treasures of Kutná Hora in a guided tour.

The planning has already started for the 2017 conference in New York.



The 5th Conference of the Comenius Academic Club.

The Comenians met at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City between June 23 and 25, 2017.

As has been the tradition, the participants were addressed by the Consul General of the Czech Republic, Hon. Martin Dvořák. Karel Raška thanked the Consul for years of support of activities of the Czechoslovak community in the United States, in general, and academic activities of societies such as the Comenius Academic Club, in particular. He wished him much success in his new important diplomatic assignment.

The participants then met with the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, H.E. Marie Chatardová who introduced them to the recent activities of the Czech Republic at the Organization of the United Nations.

The first scholarly session AMERICA 2017 was devoted to the current scene at the healthcare system in the United States and to the recent event at the institutions of higher learning. Lectures by Leslie Hirsch and Barron Boyd stimulated a lively discussion of the developments on the American political scene under Trump's administration: attempts to reform the healthcare system, unrest at the American universities and immigration restrictions.

The scientific council of the National Pedagogical Museum and Library of J.A. Comenius from time to time awards their Comenius Medals to individuals contributing to Comenius legacy. The 2017 recipients included the President of the Moravian College, Bryon L. Grigsby, his deputy Carole Reese and the Editor of the journal Comenius, Francis D. Raška.

The first day of the meeting was concluded by the opening of the impressive exhibit of the University of Pardubice and the Museum of Pardubice "From the Czech Silver Thaler to the American Dollar" introduced by Petr Vorel explaining the centuries long history of the currency.  The exhibit remains open for the rest of the summer.

The exhibit reception was attended by many countrymen from the New York area who seized the opportunity to meet Jíří Drahoš, a charter member of the Club, in his new role as a candidate for the President of the Czech Republic.

The Natural Sciences section was devoted to new trends in biology, chemistry and smart materials. The speakers introduced the participants to new ideas, discoveries and technologies. Josef Paldus, one of the most prominent Czech physical chemists, presented a fascinating theoretical treatise on symmetry. Ivan Raška introduced modern approaches to solutions of contested issues in cell biology. Jan Macák convinced the audience about the importance, possibilities and relevance of nanotechnology.

The most interesting discussion followed the brilliant lecture by Thomas E. Shenk of Princeton University on the completely new possibilities in control of viral diseases by using internal cell mechanisms as "host targeted drugs". Shenk's comments on 48 years of friendship and periodic collaboration with the meeting organizer was appreciated by the participants.

The traditional discussion of the evaluation and funding of higher education and science in the Czech Republic was moderated by Jíří Málek and Jíří Drahoš. A lively discussion followed. The participants living out of the Czech Republic questioned why the methods of evaluation are changing so frequently in the Czech Republic and asked how productive such changes are. The discussion then focused on the question of importance of the "impact factor" of the journals where scientific papers are published. There was a deep gap in opinion, based mostly on the discipline of individual scientists. The statement: "what journals Nature or Science mean to molecular biologists, does not matter to engineers and technologists", would summarize these opinions.

The second day was completed by the excellent and long dinner meeting at a nearby restaurant.

The meeting concluded by a session on the history of integration, disintegration and consolidation in Central Europe. Petr Vorel addressed conditions for integration of Central Europe at the end of the Middle Ages. Jaroslav Pánek introduced Habsburg monarchy as an attempt of dynastic integration of the region. The era of nationalism and problems of coexistence were discussed by Zdeněk David. These three lectures were delivered in a dry style of classical historians with ample documentation and painstaking detail. The lecture on transformation of Central Europe in the 20th century was presented by a younger generation guest speaker, Delia Popescu of Le Moyne College. Her presentation, even if sometimes short on some details was dynamic, enthusiastic and convincing.

Upon leaving, the participants expressed satisfaction with both the quality and atmosphere of the meeting.

The 2018 meeting will take place next June in Litomyšl with a focus of the "fateful eights" in Czech History. The details of the program in both humanities and natural sciences will be announced in October. 


Conference of the Comenius Academic Club in Litomysl was a great success.

This year’s conference of the Club at the University of Pardubice in Litomysl was opened on June 8, 2018 and participants were greeted by the President of the University Jiri Malek and the Mayor of Litomysl, Radomil Kaspar. In the natural sciences section, J.Lukes of the Academy of Sciences in Ceske Budejovice described the fascinating story of the biology of protists and marine expeditions on a research sailboat TARA. Jai Radhakrishnan of Columbia University described the modern application of molecular biology to practice of nephrology, allowing individualized approach to treatment of each patient, thus reducing undesirable side effects. D. Lukas of the Technical University of Liberec introduced the story of the development of nanotechnology in the Czech republic and presented its practical applications in medicine. The lectures were followed by a lively discussion.

The traditional panel on the evaluation and funding of science in the Czech republic was led by Jiri Malek. In the discussion also participated the member of the governmental Committee for Science and Innovation Dvorak and Jiri Drahos of the Academy of Sciences. Audience concluded that the ever developing system in the Czech republic is still different from the principles used in the USA or the United Kingdom.

The historical part of the program was devoted to the “fateful eights:” in the history of Czechoslovakia. The 100th anniversary of the foundation of the republic was described in an exciting lecture by Jan Kuklik. Jan Nemecek focused on the history of Munich crisis and Jan Dejmek on life in Czechoslovakia under the Communist rule.

The afternoon panel of the VIPs who remember was run by Francis Raska. Participants were Mojmir Petran, Jaromir Slapota, Antonin J. Liehm and Petr Brod. They focused on their memories of anti-Nazi resistance, very slow development of liberalization of the regime after Stalin’s death and the year 1968,respectively. Fascinating were Liehm’s memories of the visit of the recently deceased writer Philip Roth and his support of Czech writers, including Milan Kundera and Ludvik Vaculik. Slapota introduced the story of building of the 4 memorials of T.G.Masaryk in foreign lands.

The social meeting and a barbecue followed in the Piarist garden, accompanied by a concert of a student assembly Musica Gracela.

The conference concluded by the panel on restauration as a science and art by lectures by M.Durovic, A.Pokorny and K.Bayer. The panel was followed by the visit of the restauration shops of the University

The entire conference had and extremely friendly and pleasant atmosphere. The participants would like to express their gratitude to the administrative leadership of the Faculty of Restauration in Litomysl and particularly to Ms. Marketa Prokesova, who helped to make the 2017 conference a great success.

Opening of the 2017 Coinference of CAC in Litomysl.

President of the University and the Mayor of Litomysl are addressing the audience.

J.Lukes lectures on TARA expedition.

J.Drahos greeting A.J.Liehm.

Participants on Saturday, June 9.

A.J.Liehm and P.Brod remember 1968.

Farewell after the visit to the restauration shops of the Faculty.


The 2019 Conference of the Comenius Academic Club opened on June 21, 2109 at the Conference Center of Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The Friday afternoon session was opened by a lecture of Juraj Iványi from London. Iványi demonstrated on example of his personal life experience "that science is without borders", indeed. A prominent Czech physicist, Jiří Bičák introduced the details and significance of Albert Einstein's tenure at the University in Prague in the early twentieth century. Karel Raška presented an example of "transatlantic transfer of science" on the story of the discovery of blood groups by Karl Landsteiner in Vienna and his later work in America. He also analyzed the independent discovery of four blood group types by the Czech psychiatrist Janský. He also pointed to independent development of blood typing and transfusion service in Czechoslovakia before and during the war. At last, he discussed the history of the discovery and treatment of hemolytic disease of the newborn of both sides of the Atlantic. Pavla Křížová of the National Institute of Public Health in Prague described the final stages of the global smallpox eradication campaign and the significant role played by many Czech and Slovak physicians. The Friday session ended with a brief and cordial wine and cheese party.

The Saturday morning Humanities session was opened by a lecture of Milena Secká of the National Museum  in Prague on Vojta Náprstek. The lecture was presented in Dr. Secká's absence by Markétá Pánková. The session continued by a lecture on human behavior, characterized by procrastination. Petr Ludwig of Procrastination, Inc. in New York analyzed this problem and pointed to possible solutions on how to avoid it.

Jiří Málek, the President of the University of Pardubice analyzed the current system and state of evaluation of science in the Czech Republic. This ever changing topic stimulated a lively discussion.

Saturday afternoon was devoted to a tour of the campuses of Rutgers and Princeton Universities. The Comenians, besides the university campuses, saw where Hungarian freedom fighters found refuge after the 1956 uprising in World War II Camp Kilmer in Piscataway and the Princeton homes of Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer. Saturday ended by a banquet at the well known Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick. 

Sunday session opened with a fascinating treatise on Dvořák in America by Michael Beckerman of New York University. The session was completed by an analytic presentation on the development of the art market in the Czech Republic and study of economic standing of the Czech art in the world by Matyas Kodl of the famous Prague Gallery.

The meeting had a very friendly and pleasant atmosphere and participants expressed their satisfaction with a well balanced mixture of natural science, humanities and art in this year's program.

The next meeting in 2020 will be held in Prague.

Michael Beckerman  Jiří Málek  Karel Raška  Jana Rašková and Jiří Bičák  Discussion by Jiří Drahoš  Comenians at Princeton Campus  Pavla Křížová  Karel Raska and Michael Heidelberger Audience  Karel Raška and Jiří Bičák  Martin Kodl  Scenes from the banquet and the meeting  Scenes from the banquet and the meeting  Scenes from the banquet and the meeting  Scenes from the banquet and the meeting  Scenes from the banquet and the meeting  Scenes from the banquet and the meeting