Vladimir Pavlovich Efroimson

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Vladimir Pavlovich Efroimson
Владимир Павлович Эфроимсон
Efraimson geneticofgeniality.jpg
Book cover of Genetics of Geniality book by Efraimson published post-mortem. The black-and-white photo in the bottom is of Efroimson himself
Born21 November 1908 (1908-11-21)
Died21 July 1989 (1989-07-22) (aged 80)
ResidenceSoviet Union
CitizenshipSoviet Union
Alma materMoscow State University
Known forMutation rate, Medical genetics, Genetics of social behavior
Scientific career

Vladimir Pavlovich Efroimson (Russian: Владимир Павлович Эфроимсон; 21 November 1908, Moscow – 21 July 1989, Moscow) was one of the most prominent Soviet geneticists, a former student of Nikolai Koltsov, who was among the geneticists who had to struggle against the persecution of geneticists in the Soviet Union.[1][2]

Efroimson entered the Biology division of Math and Physics Faculty of Moscow State University in 1925, where he studied under Koltsov. In 1929 he was excluded from the University for his speech in protection of Sergei Chetverikov, the founder of population genetics. In 1929-1931 Efroimson worked in Trans-Caucasian Institute for Silk Worm Growing in Tbilisi. In 1929-1931 he worked in Moscow Radiation Institute. In 1932 he published six scientific works and discovered the formula of mutation rate in humans. In December 1932 he was arrested for his participation in the "Free Philosophic Society". In 1935 he was freed and started to work for the Central Asian Institute for Silk Worm Growing. In one and a half years he made important discoveries in the silkworm genetics. In 1937 he was expunged from the institute under pretext of inefficiency of his works, the pure-bred lines of silkworms he had bred were killed and his book Genetics of Silkworm published by the USSR Academy of Sciences was destroyed. In 1939-1941 he worked for the All-Ukrainian Silkworm Station in Merefa and obtained his Kandidat degree from Kharkov University(1941).[1]

During World War II Efroimson fought in the army from August 1942 through November 1945 and was awarded military decorations.[2][2] In February 1945 he reported to the Military Council of his Army about unacceptable excesses against German civilians including the mass rape of German women.[1]

In 1946-1948 he worked as a docent for Kharkov University and obtained his Doktor nauk degree (1947). In August 1948, after the infamous VASKhNIL session there Lysenkoists destroyed scientific genetics Efroimson was stripped from his degree. In 1948 Efroimson writes his report On the Criminal Activities by Trofim Lysenko with an elaborate analysis of activities by influential pseudo-science figure Trofim Lysenko.[1] In 1949 Efroimson was sentenced for his Libel against the Red Army to seven years in Gulag. The formal reason for his arrest was his February 1945 report about the violence against German civilians although the real reason was probably his criticism of Lysenko.[2] In 1956 after freeing from the camps he wrote reports to the Prosecutor General of the USSR On undermining of the agriculture in the Soviet Union and the international authority of Soviet science and On the losses caused by pseudo-innovations in agricultural biology. In 1956-1961 he worked as a librarian in the Library of Foreign Literature, Moscow (1961); since 1961 he worked for Mechnikov Institute of Vaccines and Serums. In 1962 his doctoral degree was returned to him.[1] In 1965 he received prestigious Mendel medal.[3] In 1968 Efroimson became the head of the Genetics Department of Moscow Institute for Psychiatry. In 1976-1989 he was a consultant for the Institute of Development Biology of the USSR Academy of Sciences.[1]

The main works of Efroimson were devoted to the broader area of genetics including: the effects of ionizing radiation, mechanism of carcinogenesis and radiation sickness, mechanism of immunity, neuropsychiatric genetics, genetics of human pathologies, etc. He wrote the first Russian monograph on genetics, The Introduction to Medical Genetics (1964)--the book that triggered the revival of human genetics in the Soviet Union. He was the author of three monographs and over 100 scientific papers and the editor of many books on different issues of genetics. The last years he worked on the genetics of social behavior. With onset of perestroyka his results in this areas were posthumously published in three books: Genetics of Geniality, Pedagogical Genetics (1998) and Genetics of Ethics and Aesthetic (1995). He is the author of many philosophical works including his Origin of Altruism (Novy Mir, 1971).[1] Efroimson entered the annals of Russian science as an outstanding researcher, but also as an unblinking fighter for the truth, an uncompromising opponent of antiscientific directions in biology, an ardent advocate of genetics and the moral standard of a true scientist.

Vladimir Efroimson is a prototype of Ilya Goldberg, one of the protagonists in the Lyudmila Ulitskaya's novel Kukotsky's Case (Booker-Open Russia Literary Prize, 2001)[4]

Russian-American poet Vladimir Efroimson (poet)[5] is his nephew.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Эфроимсон Владимир Electronic Jewish Encyclopedia ‹See Tfd›(in Russian)
  2. ^ a b c d Владимир Павлович Эфроимсон biography on peoples.ru ‹See Tfd›(in Russian)
  3. ^ ГЕНЕТИК, СТАВШИЙ БИОСОЦИОЛОГОМ Жизнь и труды неистового ученого и правдолюба Владимира Эфроимсона by Yevgeny Ramensky Novaya gazeta 20 June 2001 ‹See Tfd›(in Russian)
  4. ^ Живая нить by Yevgeny Yermolin Novy Mir N235, 2004 ‹See Tfd›(in Russian)
  5. ^ Efroimson, Vladimir (2008). "Решения". Интерпоэзия (1).