ISSN 1062-3604, Russian Journal of Developmental Biology, 2008, Vol. 39, No. 6, pp. 365–365. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2008.
Original Russian Text © V.I. Samoilov, 2008, published in Ontogenez, 2008, Vol. 39, No. 6, p. 452.
Israel Moiseevich Gelfand led a seminar on mathe-
matics at Moscow State University for many years. In
1960s, he conducted a study in neurophysiology and
organized the corresponding seminar on physiology.
Starting from 1962, Gelfand’s Seminars on biology
were regularly held, and Israel Moiseevich gradually
recruited scientists from Moscow State University and
some research and clinical institutes of the Academy of
Sciences and Academy of Medical Sciences to the
The Gelfand’s Seminar on biology was commonly
held on Friday evenings, nominally, at 6:00 p.m. (actu-
ally much later) in room 536 on the ﬁfth ﬂoor of the
Laboratory Building A at Moscow State University (the
largest lecture room of the building). The Seminar par-
ticipants (about 50 in total) were informed of the pro-
spective program by a secretary by phone (or by mail).
The Seminar was freely accessible; however, Gelfand
could come to an unknown visitor (e.g., an invited
speaker) and ask him why is he present there.
The female part of the Laboratory (later Depart-
ment) of Mathematical Methods in Biology
and sandwiches or cakes before the Seminar. (A 1 ruble
Currently the Department of Mathematical Methods in Biology
at the Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Mos-
cow State University; the Department was founded and led by
I.M. Gelfand for many years.
fee was collected just in the seminar room. Israel Moi-
seevich once made a joke that one can evaluate the
mean honesty by comparing the collected sum and the
number of participants present.)
Sometimes, short reports were given before the
main speech. (“Soviet aces retell PNASes,” said
A.A. Neifakh-senior in such cases.)
The Seminar was largely arranged by Gelfand on his
own; occasionally, he consulted with other participants.
In particular, he selected potential speakers and com-
municated with them.
There were no projectors or other present-day
equipment, and only a blackboard and chalk were
unavailable to speakers.
Israel Moiseevich preferred strictly logic presenta-
tion of a study or research history; in the latter case, he
said it is not appropriate to ask any more questions after
learning about all complications overcome by the
The seminar was interrupted only by summer voca-
tions and continued until 1989.
(one of four constitutive secretaries
of the Gelfand’s Seminar on Biology).
HISTORY OF SCIENCE
I.M. GELFAND’S SEMINAR ON BIOLOGY
Report about I.M. Gelfand’s Seminar on Biology