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 Nikolay Timofeev-Resovsky

Born:   September 7, 1900
Deceased:   March 18, 1981

Nikolay Vladimirovich Timofeev-Resovsky is a famous Russian radiobiologist, geneticist and natural scientist, whose works are es


Nikolay Vladimirovich Timofeev-Resovsky is a famous Russian radiobiologist, geneticist and natural scientist, whose works are essential for formation of population and radiation genetics. He develops the theory of targets for radiation damage of genes and chromosomes. Timofeev-Resovsky is the guru of microevolution, developing the whole concept.

Nikolay Vladimirovich Timofeev-Resovsky is born in Moscow on 7th of September 1900 in the family of a railway engineer. His education starts in 1911 in 1st Kiev Gymnasium named after Emperor Alexander, where young Nikolay spends three years. Next three years pass in Moscow Flerov Gymnasium, after which Timofeev-Resovsky enters Moscow Free University, and, after a year of training, changes it for Moscow State University. Nikolay Vladimirovich changes many positions during his studies and after his graduation, nevertheless, all his jobs are related to biology. He works as a teacher of biology, a teacher of zoology and as a research fellow in various science and education institutions.

In 1925 his supervisor professor Koltsov recommends him to the Institute of Brain Studies in Germany, and Kaisers Society (Kaiser Wilgelm Geselschaft zur Forderung der Wissenschaften) invites him to Berlin-Buch to employ Timofeev-Resovsky as a research fellow. Next step of his career is the position of the head of genetics department in the same Institute. The biologist spends there twenty one years.

The research he performs in the thirties lays the foundation for future molecular biology. Timofeev-Resovsky refuses to return to the USSR in 1937 due to repressions and persecution, from which Soviet geneticists are suffering. In 1945 he is arrested and convicted for ten years in penitentiary, accused for being an asylee and public enemy.

In 1946-1947 Nikolay Timofeev-Resovsky is exiled to Snezhinsk in the Urals, where a radiobiologist is needed for working within nuclear programme, and plunges into science he deals with biophysics, radiobiology and genetics. Zoology is his hobby since childhood, thus Timofeev-Resovsky starts with hydrobiology of Russian lakes and continues with issues of genetics, biophysics and evolution. Since twenties of 20th century Nikolay Vladimirovich chooses fruit fly (geneticists call it genetic frog) as an object for his studies of phenogenetics, mutation processes and basics of microevolution. The scientists energies are inexhaustible, and he also studies accumulation and excretion of radioactive isotopes of some chemical elements by plants, mainly hydrobionts, with new technique of labeled atoms an unprecedented research of biological systems.

His previous convictions are eliminated in 1953 the year Stalin dies, however, Timofeev-Resovsky is banned from moving to Moscow and its satellite cities closer than 101 km from the capital, as well as from traveling abroad. Nikolay Vladimirovich and his colleagues study intraspecies variability of plant-eating ladybug, contributing to microevolution theory development. The scientist keeps thanking his foreign associates mathematicians, geneticists, cytologists, physicists, chemists and so on, who helped him with precious pieces of advice and took part in international round tables and meetings, aimed at discussing hottest issues of fundamental biology, while he was working in Europe. Together with Max Delbruck Timofeev-Resovsky suggests first biophysical model of gene structure and finds possible ways for its change.

In 1965 Timofeev-Resovsky moves to Obninsk, located 105 km from Moscow, where he opens and heads the department of general radiobiology and genetics with four laboratories under his supervision n the Institute of Medical Radiology. Here the scientist launches an extensive sweep of research in radiobiology, radiation genetics, cytogenetics, phenogenetics and population genetics, mathematical theory of evolution and biogeocenology. Timofeev-Resovsky supports young and talented scientists by organizing informal summer schools, meetings and seminars, which attracted many promising young biologists to genetics and theory of evolution. In 1968 Nikolay Vladimirovich is laid off his work due to false denunciation of his colleague, and cannot organize seminars any more.

Since 1970 until his death in 1981 Nikolay Vladimirovich Timofeev-Resovsky works in the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems and actively participates in developing programme of biological experiments on Earths artificial satellites, as well as in discussing and processing of data obtained. He also trains scientific brainpower for extraterrestrial biology.

Nikolay Vladimirovich Timofeev-Resovsky dies on March 28, 1981, after a long and severe illness.

    Joint Institute for Nuclear Research
    Chelyabinsk Encyclopedia
    Physics Koltzov Institute of Developmental Biology

Kizilova Anna


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