Aleksandr Ivanovich Oparin

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Oparin, Aleksandr Ivanovich


Born Feb. 18 (Mar. 2), 1894, in Uglich. Soviet biochemist. Founder of a scientific theory on the origin of terrestrial life. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1946; corresponding member, 1939). Hero of Socialist Labor (1969).

Oparin graduated from Moscow University in 1917 and subsequently worked in a number of institutions of higher learning and research institutes. From 1942 to 1960 he was head of the subdepartment of plant biochemistry at Moscow University. In 1935, together with A. N. Bakh, Oparin organized the Institute of Biochemistry at the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. He was deputy director of the institute until 1946, when he was made director. From 1948 to 1955 he was academician-secretary of the department of biology of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

Oparin’s main works deal with biochemical principles of processing plant raw materials, enzyme activity in plants, and the origin of life on earth. He showed that biocatalysis is the basis of the production of a number of food products, and he developed the principles of Soviet technical biochemistry. Oparin’s first remarks on the origin of terrestrial life were made in 1922, and his book The Origin of Life was published in 1924. According to Oparin, life originated on earth as a result of the evolution of carbonaceous compounds.

Oparin became the president of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life in 1970, and he has been its honorary president since 1977; he also is an honorary member of the academies of sciences of Bulgaria, the German Democratic Republic, Cuba, Spain, and Italy. He is also a member of the Leopoldine German Academy of Researchers in the Natural Sciences. A recipient of the Lenin Prize (1974), the A. N. Bakh Prize, and the I. I. Mechnikov Gold Medal, he has been awarded five Orders of Lenin, two other Soviet orders, and several foreign orders and medals.


Izmenenie deistviia enzimov v rastitel’noi kletke pod vliianiem vneshnikh vozdeistvii. Moscow, 1952.
Vozniknovenie zhizni na Zemle, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1957.
Zhizn’, ee priroda, proiskhozhdenie i razvitie, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968.
“Istoriia vozniknoveniia i razvitiia teorii proiskhozhdeniia zhizni.” Izv. AN SSSR Ser. biol., 1972, no. 6.


A. I. Oparin, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1964. (AN SSSR: Materialy k biobibliografii uchenykh SSSR: Ser. biokhimii, fasc. 6.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
This assimilation of elements, a primitive form of metabolism, is the basis of the Origin of Life hypothesis set forth by post-Darwin theorist Alexander Oparin in which there is no fundamental difference between living organisms and lifeless matter.
spontaneous generation, Apollo 11's search for clues on the moon, the discovery of DNA by Watson and Crick, the question of life on meteorites, and the work of Van Helmont, Andrew Crosse, Louis Pasteur, Thomas Huxley, Alexander Oparin, and Stanley Miller, among others.
In the first half of the 20th century, Alexander Oparin established the "Metabolism First" hypothesis to explain the origin of life, thus strengthening the primary role of cells as small drops of coacervates, which are evolutionary precursors of the first prokaryote cells.