ISSN 1062-3604, Russian Journal of Developmental Biology, 2008, Vol. 39, No. 4, pp. 240–244. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2008.
Original Russian Text © A.V. Zelenin, 2008, published in Ontogenez, 2008, Vol. 39, No. 4, pp. 298–303.
The 110th anniversary of the birth of Prof.
G.K. Khrushchov is a benign reason to remember this
amazing man and to share my memory of him inciden-
tally talking about the meaning of life.
People say that thinking about the past during sleep-
less nights is typical of old age. It is not my case—I sleep
well and think largely about how to get grants for my
staff and, thus, to attract new PhD students, particularly,
But sometimes my mind is ﬂooded with thoughts
about to the past.
In particular, I sometimes think about what made me
become a scientist, speciﬁcally, experimental biologist.
After much hesitations typical of a graduating pupil,
I put away the idea to enter the ultraprestigious at the
moment Faculty of Philology at Moscow State Univer-
sity, and in 1948 became a student of the Second Mos-
cow State Medical Institute. It seemd predicted that I
would specialize in cardiology. However, the fate has
decided otherwise. Starting from the ﬁrst year, I turned
away from the clinics to a student scientiﬁc group at the
Department of Histology.
The course on general histology or, to be precise,
cytology given by Prof. Grigory Konstantinovich
Khrushchov provided me an impetus to do so.
At the time, the course on histology with basic
cytology lasted for one year and a half, and lectures by
Grigory Khrushchov attracted me from the beginning.
It is hard to precisely say what attracted me. Not
showiness, I have heard many acknowledged speakers
in my long life. Khrushchov’s lectures had neither dry
brilliance of pathologist Davidovsky, nor smart humor
and insight into the depths of human brain of psychiat-
rist Kerbikov, nor stentorian voice of physiologist
Asratyan. I think that the lectures by Grigory Khrush-
chov attracted by an amazing circumstantiality, peace,
richness, and the absence of professional window-
dressing. Grigory Khrushchov made very good illustra-
tions on blackboard with scarce crayons, which he
accurately put into a candy box after a lecture. Many
years ago I learned that he studied drawing at the pop-
ular studio of painter Konstantin Yuon.
He spoke very quietly. One had to take the second or
third row in the lecture amphitheater to be at the lec-
turer’s level and to catch the nuances of his speech. I was
not the only, as people say nowadays, fan of Grigory
Khrushchov. I always met my group mate Noric (soon
Dr. Norbert Aleksandrovich) Magazanik at his lectures.
Magazanik chose to pursue a medical career later and
became an excellent pulmonologist with a doctoral
degree; for many years, he treated Muscovites and then
successfully represented (and still represents) the Rus-
sian medical school in Israel. At that time, we tried not
to miss a single word from Khrushchov’s lectures and
sometimes missed other lectures to attend his lecture
for the parallel pediatric faculty once more.
I attended the Khrushchov’s course four or even ﬁve
Twice being a student. Next year, Norbert and
I attended his course for the ﬁrst year students again,
thus, disrupting the educational process again. Despite
toughening discipline in late 1940s, it still remained
possible. It was not yet the nearly prison conditions of
late 1952–early 1953, when a monitor took attendance
making each student stand up twice a lecture.
Three more times I attended Grigory Khrushchov’s
lectures as a PhD student at the Department of Histology
and employee of the Central Research Laboratory at the
Second Moscow State Medical Institute being a
freelance teacher of histology. In his late courses,
Grigory Khrushchov shared some lectures, particu-
larly, in special histology, with other members of the
I recall some moments at his lectures. In particular,
a demonstration of a half an hour time-lapse ﬁlm show-
ing a connective tissue culture. I remember a clear pic-
ture of a rapidly moving cell and the impressive voice
of speaker saying “a large macrophage crossed the ﬁeld
of vision.” Recently, I learned that this ﬁlm was made
by Grigory Khrushchov in the motion-picture labora-
tory organized by Vladimir Nikolaevich Lebedev at the
At the time, histology was studied with the excellent
textbook by Zavarzin and Rumyantsev, and Magazanik
and I often compared speciﬁc issues in it with the
Khrushchov’s lectures. For instance, I remember a lec-
ture about the Golgi apparatus. After telling all that was
known and, above all, was not known about this struc-
ture, Grigory Khrushchov stressed that, despite all
ambiguities, the reproducibility of the microscopic pat-
tern after silver staining suggests that it reﬂects a yet
unknown but important cellular process. Magazanik
and me exchanged glances and checked the textbook,
My Teacher, Professor G. K. Khrushchov:
Thoughts on Past Weaving into Present