Serge Winogradsky (1856-1953)
Russian-born French biologist, born on Sept. 1st, 1856, in Kiev (Ukraine, Russia). His father was a government official and ended his career as a director of one of the Kiev's banks.
Secondary studies in Kiev.
1873-1877 Studied law at the University of Kiev and gave it up soon for enrolling in a two-year long scientific training, in Kiev ; then entered the St. Petersburg's Imperial Academy of music for attending the piano lessons of Leshetitsy ; after his master's leaving to Vienna, left the Academy of music.
1877 Enrolled at the St. Petersburg's University of sciences and attended the teaching of botanist Famintzin.
1879 Married Miss Zinaida Alexandrovna Tichotzkaia, with whom he had four daughters.
1884 Doctorate in botanical sciences, from the University of St. Petersburg ; traveled to Crimea, where he created a small laboratory, at his home, for continuing research on the morphology of microorganisms.
1885-1888 Left Russia, where the political climate was rather unfavourable for scientific research, and entered the laboratory of botany, at the University of Strasbourg, under mycologist A. De Bary ; conducted research on autotrophic bacteria, from sulfurous water especially ; investigated the role of the colloidal sulphur-containing granules, found in a huge amount into the bacterial cells ; showed that sulphur results from the oxidation of sulphide hydrogen, which acts as a source of energy ; this chemical reaction is the energy-producing equivalent to the respiratory process.
1888-1891 When De Bary died, returned to Russia during several months, then entered the University of Zurich, where he continued research on autotrophic bacteria and bacteria from ferruginous water ; studied the nitrification reaction ; showed that the nitrifying bacteria absorbed carbonic acid by chemosynthesis, which is a physiological mechanism similar to that of photosynthetic CO2 assimilation involving the chlorophyll, in plants.
1890-1891 Published a series of dissertations on sulphur bacteria, nitrification, bacterial pleomorphism, in the Annales de l'Institut Pasteur ; at L. Pasteur's request, E. Metchnikoff visited him and proposed to enter the Institut Pasteur as head of laboratory ; in March 1891, travelled to Paris for meeting Pasteur.
1891 Anxious to go back to Russia, where he inherited a family's house, refused the Pasteur's proposal and was appointed as head of the microbiology laboratory, at the Imperial Institute of experimental medicine, in St. Petersburg, newly created at Prince A. d'Oldenbourg's request ; worked in collaboration with V.A. Fribes and V.L. Omelianski.
1903-1905 Named Director of the Imperial Institute of experimental medicine, in St. Petersburg ; president elect of the society of microbiology ; became a member of the medical council of Empire ; conducted research on the fixation of air nitrogen and the anaerobic nitrogen-fixing agents (Clostridium pastorianum).
1902 Became a corresponding member of the French academy of sciences, Paris.
1904 At Prince A. d'Oldenbourg's request, who aimed at creating a laboratory for fighting against plague in Russia, travelled to the Institut Pasteur in Paris, where E. Roux provided strains and materials required for the serum production ; by returning to Russia, was responsible for the laboratory of serum production, created by the Prince in Fort Alexander, Kronstadt.
1905-1914 Problems of money, as a consequence of the Russo-Japanese war, led him to resign from his scientific career and move to Gorodok (Podolie, Ukraine), where he devoted himself to music and farming at his family's estate.
1914-1917 During First World War, while his daughters were serving as nurses, tried to improve the crops harvested in his Gorodok's farm, in order to provide food and horses for the Russian army.
1920 The civil war that occured after the Russian revolution forced him to travel to Switzerland ; afterwards, appointed as professor at the University of agricultural sciences, in Belgrade.
1922 At E. Roux's request, travelled to France and set up the new Institut Pasteur's subsidiary near Paris, in Brie-Comte-Robert, dedicated to ecological microbiology.
1925-1941 Began to write a series of dissertations, published in the Annales de l'Institut Pasteur, where he described his new method for studying the microflora of soil, using silica gels ; recommended to study the microorganisms of soil in their own complex natural environment ; continued research on the air nitrogen-fixing agents, the nitrogen-fixing powers of soil, the the breakdown of cellulose, Azotobacter-mediated ammonia synthesis.
1929 Became an honorary member of the French Society of Biology.
1949 Selman A. Waksman published his work, with the Rockefeller foundation's support.
1952 In a late publication in the Annales de l'Institut Pasteur, critized some aspects in the bacterial nomenclature.
1953 On Feb.24, died at the Pasteur Institute in Brie-Comte-Robert.
Collaborators : V.L. Omeliansky, H. Winogradsky.
Biographical reference tools :
- Waksman (Selman A.), Sergei N. Winogradsky - His life and work, Rutgers University, New Jersey, 150 p., 1953.
- s.a., "Serge Winogradsky (1856-1953)", Annales de l'Institut Pasteur, t. 84, 1953, p. 667.
Service des Archives de l'Institut Pasteur