1022-7954/03/3908- $25.00 © 2003
Russian Journal of Genetics, Vol. 39, No. 8, 2003, pp. 964–966. Translated from Genetika, Vol. 39, No. 8, 2003, pp. 1145–1147.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2003 by Khotyleva, Mosse, Kasinskaya.
August 15, 2003 is the centenary of the outstanding
son of Belarus Petr Fomich Rokitsky, Academician of
Belarussian Academy of Sciences, a State Prize laure-
ate, an Honored Scientist, and the ﬁrst President of the
Belarussian Society of Genetics and Breeders.
Academician Rokitsky belongs to the constellation
of most remarkable scientists of Belarus and the Soviet
Union. He made a great contribution to the formation
and development of general and theoretical genetics,
radiation genetics, the theory of mutagenesis, the the-
ory of selection and the theoretical basis of selection
process, and biological statistics. His works on the phi-
losophy and history of biology and genetics in the
Soviet Union are widely known.
The scientiﬁc biography of Academician Rokitsky
reﬂects the most important events in the history of our
country. Rokitsky was born in 1903 in the Kustovnitsa
village (Mozyr raion, Gomel’ oblast). His father was a
country gentleman owing a small estate. From 1914 to
1920, Rokitsky went to a gymnasium in Mozyr; in
1920, he entered an Experimental Exemplary School–
Commune founded by Modest Nikolaevich Lepeshin-
skii in the former squire’s estate Lemen’ near Cherikov.
After graduation in 1921, Rokitsky accepted the invita-
tion of the Lepeshinskii brothers to stay at school as a
teacher of biology and physics. The whole atmosphere
of this interesting school, which was genuinely innova-
tive for that period, had a great inﬂuence on Rokitsky
and determined his scientiﬁc interests for many years.
In 1923, Rokitsky entered the Faculty of Science of
Moscow State University. He studied at the department
that was headed by N.K. Kol’tsov. When Rokitsky was
still a student (in 1925), he began to work, under the
supervision of S.S. Chetverikov, at the Laboratory of
Genetics of the Institute of Experimental Biology, the
head of which Kol’tsov then also was. In 1926–1927,
Rokitsky participated in a large-scale study on natural
performed in that laboratory.
The results of this study demonstrated that natural pop-
ulations were saturated with mutations, which they
absorbed “like sponges,” as Chetverikov used to say.
The studies performed by Chetverikov and his col-
leagues gave rise to population genetics. Rokitsky
began his research work under the supervision of the
outstanding geneticists S.S. Chetverikov and A.S. Sere-
brovsky. The innovative molecular genetic and popula-
tion genetic ideas and approaches of those founders of
the Soviet genetic school—Kol’tsov, Chetverikov, and
Serbrovsky—predetermined the wide scientiﬁc inter-
ests of future Academician Rokitsky.
On graduating from the university, Rokitsky entered
the postgraduate course and started studying the effects
of genes during ontogeny and the effect of increased
temperature on mutations. After ﬁnishing the postgrad-
uate training, Rokitsky taught genetics at Moscow State
University and simultaneously worked as a senior
researcher at the All-Union Institute of Animal Breed-
ing. He experimentally studied the efﬁciency of artiﬁ-
cial selection based on spontaneous or X-ray-induced
variation for eight years. The studies on selection efﬁ-
ciency served as the basis for his doctoral dissertation,
which Rokitsky defended at Moscow State University
in 1939. In 1940, Rokitsky’s doctoral degree in biology
was ofﬁcially conﬁrmed, and he was made a professor.
In 1932, Rokitsky wrote the ﬁrst handbook on
genetics for students of stockbreeding, four editions of
which were eventually published. He also published the
Practical Guide to Genetics
Petr Fomich Rokitsky
(In Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of His Birth)