Mairanovsky was the head of several secret laboratories in the Bach Institute of Biochemistry in Moscow (1928–1935). As the head of Laboratory No. 1 (1938–1946), he initiated the secret poison program conducted by the NKVD. He used political prisoners for experiments with poisons. His classified PhD thesis defended in 1940 was entitled "Biological activity of the products of interaction of mustard gas with [human] skin tissues".
He was arrested in 1951, in connection with the case of Viktor Abakumov, and spent 10 years in prison. After his release, he headed a biochemical laboratory. He appears as a character in Russian movie "Prediction" by Eldar Ryazanov.
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