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Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov

( Russian embryologist, bacteriologist and immunologist at the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1908)

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Biography Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov
photo Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov
May 15, 1845, Mr.. - July 15, 1916
Russian embryologist, bacteriologist and immunologist Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov was born in the village Ivanovka, located in Ukraine, not far from Kharkov. His father, Ilya Ivanovich, an officer of the royal troops in St. Petersburg, before moving to Ukrainian patrimony lost cards, most of the dowry of his wife and family property. Mechnikov's mother, nee Amelia Nevahovich, was the daughter of Leo Nevahovicha, a wealthy Jewish writer. It evolved into a significant addition to Ilya - the last of her five children and the fourth son - chose a career scientist.
A curious little boy with a pronounced interest in the History of Science, M. brilliantly studied at Kharkov Lyceum. Article critical of the textbook on geology, which he wrote at age 16, was published in the Moscow journal. In 1862, after graduating from high school with a gold medal, he decided to study the structure of the cell, University of Wц+rzburg. Yielding to the mood, he goes to Germany, even without knowing what classes will begin only after 6 weeks. Being alone in a strange city without a knowledge of German, M. decides to return to Kharkov University. With him he brings a Russian translation of the book by Charles Darwin's 'Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection', ( "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection"), published three years earlier. After reading the book, M. became a staunch supporter of the Darwinian theory of evolution.
In Kharkov M. graduated from college four-year branch of the natural physics and mathematics for two years. Already familiar with the peculiarities of the structure of the lower orders of animal life (worms, sponges and other simple invertebrates), M. realized that, in accordance with Darwin's theory in more highly organized animals should be detected in the structure of similarities with nizkoorganizovannymi, from which they occurred. At the time of vertebrate embryology was developed much better than the embryology of invertebrates. During the next three years, M. studied the embryology of invertebrates in different parts of Europe: first on the island of Helgoland in the North Sea, . then in the laboratory of Rudolf Leuckart in Gisenyi, near Frankfurt, and, . Finally, . Naples, . where he worked with the young Russian zoologist Alexander Kovalevsky,
. Work, . in which they showed, . that germinal sheets of multicellular animals are, . essentially, . homologous (demonstrating structural compliance), . as it should be in forms, . linked by common origin, . brought them the prize of Karl Ernst von Baer,
. M. this time turned 22 years. At the same time due to excessive overvoltage he began to hurt my eyes. This ailment bothered him in the next 15 years, and impeded the work of the microscope.
In 1867, with a thesis on the embryonic development of fish and crustaceans, M. received his doctorate in St. Petersburg University, where he then taught zoology and comparative anatomy in the next six years. As part of an anthropological expedition he went to the Caspian Sea, in the neighborhood Kalmyks for anthropometric measurements, characterizing Kalmyks as representatives of the Mongoloid race. M Returning. was elected assistant professor of Novorossiysk University in Odessa. Located on the shores of the Black Sea, Odessa was the ideal place to study marine animals. M. enjoyed the affection of students, but the growing social and political unrest in Russia, oppressed him. Following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881. reactionary actions of the government intensified, and Moscow, has resigned, he moved to Messina (Italy).
'In Messina, - he recalled later - have made a turning point in my scientific life. Before the zoologist, I immediately became a pathologist '. Opening dramatically changed the course of his life, was associated with observations of the larvae of the starfish. Watching these transparent animals, M. noticed that wandering cells surround and absorb foreign objects, just as in the case of inflammatory reactions in humans. If the foreign body was quite small, wandering cells, which he named phagocytes from the Greek phagein ( 'a'), could fully absorb the newcomer.
M. was not the first scientist who observed that white blood cells in animals devour invading organisms, including bacteria. At the same time it was thought that the absorption process is mainly for the distribution of foreign matter throughout the body via the circulatory system. M. held a different explanation, t. to. looking at what is happening eyes embryologist. In larvae of sea stars moving phagocytes not only surround and absorb the invading object, but also resorbs and destroy other tissues, in which the body no longer needs. Human leukocytes and mobile fagitsity starfish embryological homologous, tk. originate from the mesoderm. Hence M. concluded that the white blood cells, like phagocytes, in fact, serve a protective function or health. He further demonstrated the activity of phagocytes in transparent water fleas. 'According to this hypothesis, - later wrote M., - the disease must be viewed as a struggle between the pathogenic agents - come from outside germs - and the phagocytes of the organism. First few weeks will mean victory for phagocytes and inflammatory response would be a sign of their action, sufficient to prevent the attack of microbes'. However, the idea of M. several years been regarded by the scientific community.
In 1886. M. returned to Odessa, to head the newly organized Bacteriological Institute, where he studied the action of phagocytes dogs, rabbits and monkeys on the microbes that cause erysipelas, and relapsing fever. His staff also worked on vaccines against chicken cholera and anthrax sheep. Pursued by hungry sensationalist journalists and local doctors have been reproached M. in the absence of his medical education, he again left Russia in 1887, Mr.. Meeting with Louis Pasteur in Paris has led to the fact that the great French scholar, suggested that M. head the new laboratory at the Pasteur Institute. M. worked there over the next 28 years, continuing research phagocytes.
Dramatic pictures of the battles of phagocytes, which drew M. in their academic records, were met with hostility committed to the humoral theory of immunity, who believed that a central role in the destruction of 'newcomers' are certain substances of blood, and not contained in the blood leukocytes. M., recognizing the existence of antibodies and antitoxin, as described by Emil von Behring, vigorously defended his phagocytic theory. Together with colleagues he studied as syphilis, cholera and other infectious diseases.
Executed in Paris of M. contributed to many fundamental discoveries concerning the nature of the immune response. One of his students - Jules Bordet - showed the role of complement (a substance found in normal serum and activated complex antigen - antibody) and the destruction of microbes, making them more susceptible to the action of phagocytes. The most important contribution of M. in science wore methodological nature: the purpose of the scientist was to study 'immunity in infectious diseases ... from the standpoint of cell physiology '.
When perceptions of the role and functions of phagocytic leukocytes were more common among immunologists, M. turned to other ideas, do, in particular, aging and death. In 1903, Mr.. He published a book on 'ortobiozu' - or the ability to 'live right'. - 'Perceptions of the nature of man', which discusses the importance of food and justified the need to use large quantities of milk products, or curdled, fermented with the help of the Bulgarian bacillus. Name M. associated with a popular commercial method of manufacture of yoghurt, but the scientist did not receive any money for it. M. together with Paul Ehrlich was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1908. 'for their efforts in immunity'. As noted in a welcome speech to. Merner of the Karolinska Institute, . 'after the discoveries of Edward Jenner, . Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch remained unclear Immunology basic question: 'How the body can defeat the germs, . that, . attacked him, . able to gain a foothold and began razvivatsyaN Trying to find the answer to this question, . - Continued Merner, . - M,
. initiated modern research on ... Immunology and has had a profound impact on the entire course of its development '.
In 1869, Mr.. M. married Lyudmila Fedorovich, who was ill with tuberculosis; children they had no. When four years later his wife died, M. made an unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide by drinking morphine. In 1875, as a teacher of Odessa University, he met a 15-year-old student, Olga Belokopytova and married her. When Olga contracted typhoid fever, M. again tried to take their own lives, this time by injecting agents relapsing fever. Heavy perebolev, however, he recovered: the disease swept away the wave portion is so characteristic for his pessimism and brought improved vision. Although by his second wife at M. no children after the death of Olga's parents who have died one after another during the year, the couple became the guardian of her two brothers and three sisters.
M. died in Paris on July 15, 1916, Mr.. at age 71 after several myocardial infarction.
Among the numerous awards and decorations M. - Copley Medal of Royal Society of London, an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cambridge. He - a member of the French Academy of Medicine and the Swedish Medical Society.

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