Ghosts of Forgotten Forms of Science – Seminar Series

Thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the impact of socialist scientific advances has largely faded from public view. When considered at all, many of the USSR’s scientific pursuits are treated much like its economic system: an experiment relegated since to the far reaches of historical memory. Yet the USSR produced an enormous – and in manyways, enormously productive – body of scientific literature and research, which did much to influence the course of 20th centuryscience worldwide.

One field in which Soviet scientific endeavour was influential, and yet which has since avoided examination, is biomedicine.In recent years, notably enough, Western biomedical research has begun to independently return to many of the fieldspreviously developed by Soviet scientists, confirming, for example, the use of viral bacteriophages in treating infection, or thelinks between heart disease and dementia. Although labouring in isolation from their Western colleagues (and often in quitedifficult financial circumstances), Soviet biomedical researchers were making important breakthroughs in microbiology,gerontology, endocrinology, and other fields across the 20th century.

Historical research into the work conducted by Soviet doctors, researchers, and pharmacological scientists provides an opportunity to evaluate the impact and place of Soviet science more broadly and consider the influences, from socialism to international scientific networks, that drove its course. The papers presented in this seminar series draw upon this rich bodyof work, demonstrating the variety, depth, and particularity of Soviet biomedical practice. Part of the Wellcome Trust-funded project ‘Growing Old in the Soviet Union, 1945-1991’ at Liverpool John Moores University, the seminars draw upon the project’s research into Soviet gerontology and geriatrics while also encompassing many other fields.

All seminars will be held via Zoom at 16:00-17:30 BST. Seminars are open to the public, but the organisers ask that interested parties register ahead of time by emailing with their name and email address. Links to the seminars will be distributed the day of the seminar.

The working languages of the seminars are Russian and English.

Seminar Schedule:

 May 27: Perspectives on Soviet Gerontological Science

Nikolai Kremenstov: Visionary Biology and Heroic Medicine: Old Age Research and Rejuvenation in Bolshevik Russia

Vladislav Bezrukov and Yurii Duplenko: The Legend of Gilgamesh: Attempts towards its Fulfilment in SovietGerontology.

June 3: Medical Practice and Research in the Soviet Context

Pavel Vasilev: Making Soviet Drugs in the Heart of Siberia: Clinical Trials of Rhodiola rosea in Tomsk, 1960s-1970s

Anastasia Belaeva: Vegetovascular Dystonia: An Illness Specific to Soviet Culture

June 10: Some Results of Soviet-era Research

Anna Ozhiganova: ‘Dolphin Babies’: the late Soviet project of infant swimming and the creation of ‘a new superhuman being’

Isaac Scarborough: International Echoes of Soviet Biomedical Gerontology