1022-7954/03/3901- $25.00 © 2003
Russian Journal of Genetics, Vol. 39, No. 1, 2003, p. 95. Translated from Genetika, Vol. 39, No. 1, 2003, pp. 111–112.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2003 by Mitrofanov.
The life and activity of Nikolai Vladimirovich
Timofeeff-Ressovsky, one of the most renowned scien-
tists of the 20th century, have been the focus of numer-
ous publications and ﬁlms. Notwithstanding, his life
attracts our attention again and again. In Russia, Timo-
feeff-Ressovsky did not have high personal titles. All
his titles and prizes were received beyond Russia. Yet
Timofeeff-Ressovsky substantially contributed to the
current knowledge of various ﬁelds of biology and bio-
physics. His charisma was due to his high scientiﬁc
potential, which allowed Timofeeff-Resovsky to pre-
serve himself as a person and as a researcher and to
overcome all ordeals of his unusual fate.
In their book, Babkov and Sakanyan introduce the
reader to the facts of Timofeeff-Ressovsky’s life that
were thus far unknown to the general public.
The ﬁrst part considers the complete family tree of
Timofeeff-Ressovsky, as well as the scientiﬁc views of
his teachers, N.K. Kol’tsov and S.S. Chetverikov. The
development of Timofeeff-Ressovsky as a researcher is
described. In this connection, it is interesting to look at
the experimental basis used by Timofeeff-Ressovsky to
analyze the developmental patterns of gene expression.
Phenomenology of the Realization of
gives an insight into the speciﬁc of genetic anal-
ysis as it was carried out in the 1930s, when the genetic
code was unknown, yet interesting and correct conclu-
sions on the character of gene expression were drawn
only from the data of hybrid analysis. Thus, one may
see how the groundwork for modern phenogenetics
It is also possible to follow the difﬁcult ways to the
understanding of natural and induced mutagenesis.
Experiments with irradiation of
ried out by numerous researchers. However, only
Muller succeeded in obtaining clear and unquestion-
able data concerning the effect of ionizing radiation on
the heredity of organisms (for which he was awarded
the Nobel Prize). The failure of Timofeeff-Ressovsky
and Romashov was most probably caused by the
absence of high-quality irradiation equipment and
insufﬁcient experimental material rather than by spe-
ciﬁc phenogenetic features of
lack of strains with the known genetic origin.
Timofeeff-Ressovsky’s work on the structure of nat-
ural populations and genetic analysis of ﬁtness are also
of interest, as different forms of variation were shown
to provide a basis for selection. Based on numerous
observations in natural populations, Timofeeff-Ress-
ovsky demonstrated that intrapopulation variation may
give origin to intraspeciﬁc one. He elaborated the main
concepts of microevolution (and was the ﬁrst to intro-
duce this term), considering speciation as a major result
of microevolutionary processes.
Working in the Urals from 1947 to 1964, Timofeeff-
Ressovsky founded a new branch of radiation biology,
radiation biocenology, which only now is beginning to
develop fully. Many people have forgotten that it was
Timofeeff-Ressovsky who laid the theoretical ground-
work for its development.
The second part of the book describes meetings and
conservations with Timofeeff-Ressovsky and presents
recollections of his friends, his enemies, and prejudiced
people who hold to commonly accepted views about
him. It was far from easy to rehabilitate Timofeeff-
Ressovsky and to clear him from unjustiﬁed, libelous
accusation of collaboration with enemies. Renowned
scientists and politicians of the Soviet Union and other
countries came out to defend Timofeeff-Ressovsky, and
yet his opponents were also not few. Details of this
struggle are well described in the book.
Finally, the Supplement contains numerous impor-
tant documents, many of those are published for the
ﬁrst time. We should be grateful to the authors who
painstakingly worked to ﬁnd, to collect, and to organize
these invaluable primary sources of information on the
most important periods of Timofeeff-Ressovsky’s life.
Interrogation protocols are especially impressive, dem-
onstrating Timofeeff-Ressovsky’s truthfulness, dignity,
and awareness of his innocence. Probably, if these pro-
tocols were published at the period of struggle for reha-
bilitation of Timofeeff-Ressovsky, this alone would
stop a ridiculous rumor that he worked in collaboration
with the Nazis.
Nikolai Vladimirovich Timofeeff-Ress-
is certainly a success of Babkov and Sakanyan. It
is easy to read and to understand even when complex
genetic phenomena are considered. This book is of
interest not only for biologists, but also for a wide circle
of readers who are interested in the development of
V. G. Mitrofanov
Nikolai Vladimirovich Timofeeff-Ressovsky
V.V. Babkov and E.S. Sakanyan, ser.
Pamyatniki istoricheskoi mysli
(A Collection of Historic Ideas), Sokolov, B.S., Ed., Moscow, 2002