1062-3604/01/3203- $25.00 © 2001
Russian Journal of Developmental Biology, Vol. 32, No. 3, 2001, pp. 192–195.From Ontogenez, Vol. 32, No. 3, 2001, pp. 234–237.
Original English Text Copyright © 2001 by Korzh.
Nadezhda Alexandrovna Dobrovolskaya was born
in Kiev on September 13, 1878. She studied medicine
in Saint Petersburg where in the early 1900s, she
became one of the best known women surgeons. After
the First World War started in 1914, she joined the Rus-
sian army and worked in military hospitals until 1917,
when the revolution dramatically changed the fate of
Russia and all Russians. At the end of civil war she was
working in the hospital in the army of General Wran-
gel. After the defeat of Wrangel in 1920, Dobrovol-
skaya left Russia and went into exile. Like many other
Russian emigrés, she came to Paris after ﬂeeing Crimea
via Turkey and Egypt. (Unfortunately, this period of the
life of Nadezhda Dobrovolskaya is completely
unknown to me.)
Here in Paris on October 1, 1921, at the age of 43, she
joined Prof. Claudius Regaud in the Pasteur Labora-
tory. In France she is known as Nadine Dobrovolskaya-
Zavadskaya. In the later literature, she sometimes is
referred to simply as Zavadskaya. The Pasteur Labora-
tory was established in 1909 by the Institute of Radium
(currently the Curie Institute) and the Pasteur Institute
to study the biological effects of radioactivity (Fig. 2).
The Pasteur Laboratory was one of the ﬁrst research
institutions committed to radiobiological studies.
Eventually, Dobrovolskaya-Zavadskaya became well
known for her major contribution to the ﬁeld of radiobi-
ology and radiology (Fig. 2). At the age of 76 she was
invited to attend several conferences in Italy. On her way
from Zurich to Milan, N. Dobrovolskaya-Zavadskaya
became sick and died in Milan on October 31, 1954.
Relevant to the subject of my review is the fact that
Nadine Dobrovolskaya-Zavadskaya made an important
early contribution to the developmental genetics of the
T gene, the founder gene of the T-box gene family. In
1923 she initiated one of the ﬁrst genetic screenings of
developmental mutants in mice by irradiation of testi-
cles of males with X-rays.
In retrospect, perhaps the most important achieve-
ment of Dobrovolskaya-Zavadskaya (that is still
remembered in developmental genetics) was the isola-
tion of a robust strain of the mutant of the T gene oth-
erwise known as
passed this strain to other laboratories. One of those
interested in working with Bra was Boris Ephrussi,
This article was submitted by the author in English.
another Russian emigré and one of the pioneers of
developmental genetics, who was working mainly in
France. Boris Ephrussi established a culture of cells
from T mice demonstrating that this lethal mutation
affects only some cell lineages (Ephrussi, 1933, 1935).
The second person who obtained the
Dobrovolskaya-Zavadskaya was Prof. L.C. Dunn
(1893–1974) in New York, USA.
There are several versions of the story of transfer of
mice to Columbia University. In 1928
L.C. Dunn moved to the Department of Zoology at
Columbia University (Crampton, 1942). In 1930,
Dobrovolskaya-Zavadskaya was invited to the USA to
give a lecture for some Russian refugee organizations.
On that occasion, she visited the lab of L.C. Dunn at
Columbia and discussed with him the difﬁculties of
phenotype. L.C. Dunn
asked Dobrovolskaya-Zavadskaya to provide him with
Bra heterozygotes that, together with another line,
arrived at Columbia in 1931 (Bennett, 1977).
Despite the apparent frustration caused by a challenge
, Dobrovolskaya-Zavadskaya worked
on this subject for a few more years.
HISTORY OF SCIENCE
N. Dobrovolskaya-Zavadskaya and the Discovery of the T gene
V. P. Korzh
The Institute of Molecular Agrobiology, 1 Research Link, National University of Singapore, 117604 Singapore
Nadine Dobrovolskaya-Zavadskaya (1878–1954) in