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 Mikhail Chumakov

Born:   14 November 1909
Deceased:   11 June 1993

great Soviet virologist, saved the world from poliomyelitis


Mikhail Chumakov is a world famous Soviet virologist, who saved millions of lives by introducing anti-poliomyelitis vaccine.

Future virologist was born in 1909. For higher education Mikhail chose the medical faculty of Moscow State University, which later was transformed into Moscow Medical Academy named after Sechenov. The scientist graduated from the University in 1931. In 1937 Chumakov took part in the scientific expedition to Khabarovsk region. The venture was organized by Lev Zilber. During the expedition researchers studied recently discovered virus of mite-borne encephalitis and its etiology. Mite-borne encephalitis is an infectious neurological disease. Chumakov and his colleagues were the first to discover that that disease was caused by a virus, transmitted by mites, and to isolate the virus. Mikhail Chumakov caught the virus accidentally, which led to losing the ability to hear and move the right hand. The discovery of encephalitis virus brought researchers the Stalin prize in 1941.

In 1948 Mikhail Chumakov was elected the corresponding member, and in 1960 – the full member of Soviet Academy of Medical Sciences. Since the early forties of the twentieth century, Mikhail Chumakov organized and participated in many scientific expeditions to Siberia, Crimea, Far East and other regions of our vast country in order to study bursts of new diseases, which had viral nature. The scientist discovered and studied properties of following diseases: Omsk hemorrhagic fever, Kemerovo hemorrhagic fever, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, Crimea hemorrhagic fever and many more.

Since 1950 Mikhail Chumakov headed the Institute of Virology named after Ivanovsky. In 1955 the scientist’s initiative resulted in the opening of the new research institution, where poliomyelitis was studied in order to develop a vaccine against this horrible disease.



Polio virus
The medical researcher had a fruitful collaboration with American virologists Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, who also studied poliomyelitis. Mikhail Chumakov organized mass production of the polio vaccine and performed its clinical trials of the first ever living polio vaccine (LPV), which was based upon attenuated viral strains of Albert Sabin. The Soviet Union was the first country, where the population was vaccinated with highly effective living polio vaccine, which almost eliminated poliomyelitis in the country in several years.

Chumakov and another researcher, Anatoly Smorodintsev, were awarded Lenin Prize for their work on poliomyelitis in 1963. The LPV vaccine, which was produced in the Chumakov’s Institute, was exported to over 60 other countries and helped coming with virus breaks in Eastern Europe and Japan. Successful clinical trials of the vaccine in the Soviet Union initiated vaccinations in the United States, the place, where the vaccine was developed, as well as all over the world. The living polio vaccine became the major instrument for global fighting against the disease. Mikhail Chumakov have also developed other vaccines for medicine and veterinary. The researcher and his colleagues developed and introduced into practice inactivated (dead) vaccine against mite-borne encephalitis, against distemper virus (to protect fur-bearing animals) and many others. The scientist published over 960 scientific paper and books and owned numerous patents.

The researcher held the Honoris Causa of Leopoldina Academy of Germany and was an honorary member of Hungarian Academy of Sciences, as well as many foreign medical societies and academies. After his death in 1993, his Institute was renamed and is now called the Institute of Poliomyelitis and Viral Infections named after Mikhail Chumakov. An asteroid, discovered in 1986, was named Chumakov after the eminent medical researcher.



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