Ivan Pavlov

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Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (September 14, 1849 - February 27, 1936) was a famous Russian physiologist. He was born on September 14, 1849 at Ryazan, where his father, Peter Dmitrievich Pavlov, was a village priest. He was educated first at the church school in Ryazan and then at the theological seminary there.

Inspired by the progressive ideas which D. I. Pisarev, the most eminent of the Russian literary critics of the 1860s and I. M. Sechenov, the father of Russian physiology, were spreading, Pavlov abandoned his religious career and decided to devote his life to science. In 1870 he enrolled in the physics and mathematics faculty to take the course in natural science.


Life and research

Ivan Pavlov was born in Ryazan, Russia.[1] He began his higher education as a student at the Ryazan Ecclesiastical Seminary, but then dropped out and enrolled in the University of Saint Petersburg to study the natural sciences and became a physiologist. He received his doctorate in 1879.

In the 1890s, Pavlov was investigating the gastric function of dogs by externalizing a salivary gland so he could collect, measure, and analyze the saliva and what response it had to food under different conditions. He noticed that the dogs tended to salivate before food was actually delivered to their mouths, and set out to investigate this "psychic secretion", as he called it.

In 1875 Pavlov completed his course with an outstanding record and received the degree of Candidate of Natural Sciences. However, impelled by his overwhelming interest in physiology, he decided to continue his studies and proceeded to the Academy of Medical Surgery to take the third course there. He completed this in 1879 and was again awarded a gold medal. After a competitive examination, Pavlov won a fellowship at the Academy, and this together with his position as Director of the Physiological Laboratory at the clinic of the famous Russian clinician, S. P. Botkin, enabled him to continue his research work. In 1883 he presented his doctor's thesis on the subject of «The centrifugal nerves of the heart». In this work he developed his idea of nervism, using as example the intensifying nerve of the heart which he had discovered, and furthermore laid down the basic principles on the trophic function of the nervous system. In this as well as in other works, resulting mainly from his research in the laboratory at the Botkin clinic, Pavlov showed that there existed a basic pattern in the reflex regulation of the activity of the circulatory organs.

Unlike many pre-revolutionary scientists, Pavlov was highly regarded by the Soviet government, and he was able to continue his research until he reached a considerable age. Moreover, he was praised by Lenin and is a Nobel laureate.[2]

After the murder of Sergei Kirov in 1934, Pavlov wrote several letters to Molotov criticizing the mass persecutions which followed and asking for the reconsideration of cases pertaining to several people he knew personally.

Conscious until his very last moment, Pavlov asked one of his students to sit beside his bed and to record the circumstances of his dying. He wanted to create unique evidence of subjective experiences of this terminal phase of life.[3]

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