Palladin, Aleksandr Vladimirovich

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(b. Moscow, Russia, 10 September 1885; d. Kiev, U.S.S.R., 10 December 1972)


A.V. Palladin was the son of V.I. Palladin, one of the leading Russian biochemists and plant physiologists of the turn of the century. In 1903 he entered the Faculty of Natural Sciences at St. Petersburg University. In 1905, while still a student, he became a scientific worker first at the university laboratory of I.P. Pavlov, and then in the Department of Physiology under N.E. Vvedensky. Under the latter Palladin completed his first research in 1907, “Phenomena of Excitation and Retardation in the Reflex Apparatus During Contamination by 2, 3–Dimethoxy-strichnine and Carbolic Acid”, which was awarded a gold medal by the university.

After graduation from the university in 1908, Palladin worked in the department of physiology of the Women’s Pedagogical Institute in St. Petersburg until 1916, as well as at the Higher Women’s Agricultural Courses from 1914 to 1916. During these years he conducted research on the processes of the origin of creatine in an organism as well as on its role in muscle activity. Palladin came to the conclusion that a major role in the metabolism of muscles in played by creatine-phosphoric acid and also that arginine is the precursor of creatine in muscles, palladin’s work on the metabolism of creatine and creatine-phosphoric acid led to the expansion of research in the biochemistry of muscle activity. For his work “Research on the Formation and Secretion of Creatine in Animals”, Palladin was granted a master’s degree in physiology and comparative anatomy at St. Petersburg University. In 1916 he accepted a professorship at the Novo-Aleksandrijsky (today Kharkovsky) Institute of Agriculture and Forestry, where he worked until 1923. From 1921 to 1931 he was chairman of the Department of Physiological Chemistry at the Kharkov Medical Institute.

After the October Revolution, palladin became active in the propaganda of scientific knowledge striving to make it accessible to the people. In 1919 his book “The Scientific Bases of Public Nutrition” appeared; it was republished many times in the following years.

Palladin taught special courses in biochemistry at Kharkov University (1917–1921) and at the kharkov Medical Institute (1921–1931). These courses formed the basis for one of the first Soviet textbooks on biochemistry (the first edition was published in 1924, the twelfth in 1946, and it was translated into a number of foreign languages).

From 1925 to 1969, Palladin headed the Ukrainian Biochemical Institute in Kharkov, which was the first specialized biochemical research institute in the Ukraine and the second in the Soviet Union. In 1926 he founded the first specialized biochemical journal in the Soviet Union, “Scientific Notes of the Ukrainian Biochemical Institute” (the journal was renamed the “Ukrainian Biochemical Journal” in 1934).

In 1926, without having defended a dissertation, Palladin was granted the degree of doctor of biology and in 1929 he was elected a full member of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian S.S.R.

In 1931 the Ukrainian Biochemical Institute was moved to Kiev and renamed the Institute of Biochemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian S.S.R. From 1934 to 1954 palladin, in addition to working at the institute, headed the biochemistry department of Kiev University. The institute expanded significantly and became a major center of biochemical research. Under Palladin’s guidance extensive research on the chemical composition and metabolism of muscles at work, at rest, and during exercise was greatly developed. The numerous experimental data and conclusions accumulated served as the basis for the development of research in the biochemical fundamentals of the theory of human physical culture.

In the war years (1941–1945) the collective at the institute did not stop its work. During evacuation in 1944 palladin synthesized vicasol, a water-soluble analogue for the antihemorrhagic vitamin K, which found wide application in medical practice. At the institute, research on the biochemistry of the nervous system, and especially of the brain, which had been begun before the war, was continued and expanded. The concept of the “biochemical topography” of the brain was created.

In 1942 Palladin was elected a full member of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., and in 1944 he was among the first five biochemists to be elected full members of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the U.S.S.R. (established in 1944). From 1946 to 1962 he was president of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian S.S.R. From 1967 to 1969 he served as president of the All-Union Biochemical Society.

Palladin was an active and important public figure. From 1946 to 1962 he was a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. In 1945 he participated in the United Nations Conference at San Francisco as a member of the Ukrainian S.S.R. delegation. He was involved in the first conference on the peaceful uses of atomic energy. The scientific and civic activity of palladin was distinguished by the V.I. Lenin Prize (1929) and by the Hero Socialist Labor Award, the highest honor in the U.S.S.R.(1955), He was elected an honorary member of the academies of sciences of Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Poland, and received many Soviet and foreign awards.


I. Original Works.Voprosy biokhimii nervnoi sistemy (Kiev, 1965), trans. by M. Artman, and ed. by S. Herschkopf as Biochemistry of the Nervous System (Jerusalem, 1967);Belki golovnogo mozga i ikh obmen (Kiev, 1972), written with V. Belik and N.M. Polyakova, trans. by Basil Haigh, trans. ed. by Abel Lajtha, as Protein Metabolism of the Brain (New York, 1977); and Sobranie sochineny (Collected works; Kiev, 1975).

II. Secondary Literature. A.M. Utevsky, Aleksandr Vladimirovich Palladin (Kiev, 1975).

A. N. Shamin