26 August 1878|
Liepāja, Russian Empire
|Died||7 March 1968
Moscow, Soviet Union
|Fields||blood–brain barrier, biochemistry, neuroscience|
|Institutions||Moscow 2nd Medical Institute, Institute of Physiology, Biophysics Institute|
|Alma mater||University of Geneva|
|Known for||The first female professor at the University of Geneva, the first female member of the USSR Academy of Sciences|
|Notable awards||Stalin Prize (1943)|
Lina Solomonovna Stern (also Shtern, Schtern) (Russian: Лина Соломоновна Штерн) (26 August 1878 – 7 March 1968) was a notable Soviet biochemist, physiologist and humanist whose medical discoveries saved thousands of lives at the fronts of World War II. She is best known for her pioneering work on blood–brain barrier, which she described as hemato-encephalic barrier in 1921.
Life and career
Born in Libau in the Russian Empire (today Liepāja in Latvia) into a Jewish family and educated in Geneva, Switzerland, she pursued a brilliant academic career and performed original research in biochemistry and in the neurosciences. From 1918 onwards she was the first woman awarded professional rank at the University of Geneva, being a Professor of chemio-physiology, and researching cellular oxidation.
In 1925 she had emigrated to the Soviet Union out of ideological convictions. From 1925–1948 she served as Professor of the 2nd Medical Institute and from 1929–1948, the Director of Institute of Physiology of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Among many problems Stern and her scientific group worked on were longevity and sleep. Under her leadership multidisciplinary groups of colleagues worked on the problems of the hemato-encephalic and histohematic barriers. The results of this work were later implemented in clinical practice and saved thousands of lives at the fronts of World War II. In 1939 she became the first female full member of the Academy (academician). In 1943 she won the Stalin Prize.
Activism and persecutions
A member of the Women's Anti-Fascist Committee and the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC) since 1942, Stern was the sole survivor out of fifteen arrested (one person died in prison, thirteen were executed) when the JAC was eradicated by Joseph Stalin in January 1949. She was sentenced to a prison term, followed by five-year exile to Dzhambul (current Taraz), Kazakhstan.
After Stalin's death in 1953 Lina Stern was allowed to return to Moscow and in 1954–1968 she headed the Department of Physiology at Biophysics Institute.:
- Vein, Alla A (2008). "Science and fate: Lina Stern (1878-1968), a neurophysiologist and biochemist". Journal of the history of the neurosciences 17 (2): 195–206. doi:10.1080/09647040601138478. PMID 18421636.
- (Russian) Star called Lina by Irina Lukyanova (Vestnik journal)
- (Russian) Difficult Years of Lina Stern by V.B. Malkin (russcience)
- (Russian) First Woman Academic by N.A. Grigoryan (russcience)
- (Russian) Lina Solomonovna Stern (1878-1968) by R.A Chaurina (nature.web.ru)
- Stalin's Secret Pogrom: The Postwar Inquisition of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee by Joshua Rubenstein. ISBN 0-300-08486-2
- Vogt, Annette B. (1970–80). "Shtern, Lina Solomonovna". Dictionary of Scientific Biography 24. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 447–449. ISBN 978-0-684-10114-9.