The Imperial Laboratory

Experimental Physiology and Clinical Medicine in Post-Crimean Russia


Following a humiliating defeat in the Crimean War, the Russian Empire found herself exposed due to major deficiencies in her infrastructure. To gain from European scientific, technical and educational advancements, the Russian Government began to permit studies abroad and relaxed censorship, which brought a new flood of literature into the country. These measures enormously facilitated the growth of Russian science, medicine and education in the late nineteenth century, taking the Empire into a fascinating era of laboratory research, a new cultural and intellectual tradition.
The Imperial Laboratory tells the story of the lives and studies of the leading Russian and German clinician–experimenters who played critical roles in the integration of physics and chemistry into physiology and clinical medicine. A principal theme is the major transformations undergone in military medicine and education. Using a wide range of Russian and German primary sources, this book offers a unique English-language insight into Russian physiology and medicine that will be of interest to both historians and doctors, as well as anyone interested in Russian science and culture.

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Galina Kichigina has taught at Moscow Medical Academy and at University of Toronto. She has co-authored a chapter on history of cardiovascular physiology and on modern concepts of ventricular fibrillation in I. Efimov, et al. (eds) Cardiac Bioelectric Therapy (New York: Springer, 2008) and is currently working on a history of cardiology and molecular medicine.
”This book is another excellent contribution to the Wellcome Series in the History of Medicine… Kichigina should be highly commended for producing a book that will be of interest not only to medical historians, but to a much broader audience interested in Russian science and culture.”
in: Metascience (2011) 20:135–137
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Part I: The German Laboratory and ‘Scientific Medicine’ in the Late 1850s and Early 1860s: A Russian View
The Old–New Tradition
Physiologist-Physicists: Foundation of the Discipline
A Viennese Prelude: Sechenov’s Research at Ludwig’s Laboratory
Berlin Wins over Paris and Vienna: Botkin’s View on European Clinics
‘Alt Heidelberg, du feine…’

Part II: The St Petersburg Medico-Surgical Academy and Experimental Science
Military Medical Education: The Aftermath of the Crimean War
The Winds of Change: Reformation of the Medico-Surgical Academy
The ‘Medico-Chemical Academy’: Zinin’s Laboratory
Synthesis and Symphonies: Borodin’s Laboratory
‘Scientific Medicine’: Botkin’s Teaching Clinic and Laboratory
The New Discipline of Russian Physiology: Sechenov’s Laboratory
A Few Steps Further: The Operation of the Physiological Laboratory under Cyon

Part III: From Physics and Chemistry of the Body to Physical Chemistry: Sechenov’s Research on Blood Gases and Salt Solutions
Russian Universities in the Sea of Change, 1870–1886
Sechenov at Novorossiisk University: New Laboratory, New Challenges
A Simple Model: Transition from Blood-Gas Research to Studies on Salt Solutions
Sechenov at St Petersburg: ‘Galvanic studies’ – A Final Proof
The Context to Sechenov’s Study of Solution: The Mendeleev–Ostwald Debate on the Theory of Solutions
The Universal Law: Expectations and Disappointments
This book is of interest both to historians and doctors interested in Russian physiology and medicine, as well as anyone interested in Russian science and culture.
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