Nikolai Burdenko

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Burdenko, Nikolai Nilovich


Born May 22 (June 3), 1876, in the village of Kamenka, Nizhnelomovskii District (now Penza Oblast); died Nov. 11, 1946, in Moscow. Soviet surgeon; one of the founders of neurosurgery. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1939); academician and first president of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR (1944-46). Colonel-general in the military medical service. Hero of Socialist Labor (1943). Became member of the CPSU in 1939.

Burdenko graduated from the University of Iur’ev (now Tartu) in 1906 and became a professor there in 1910. In 1918 he became a professor at the University of Voronezh and in 1923, in the medical department of Moscow University (since 1930, the First Moscow Medical Institute) where, until his death, he headed the department’s surgical clinic, which now bears his name. In 1929 he became the director of the neurosurgical clinic at the X-ray institute of the People’s Commissariat of Public Health, on the basis of which the Central Neurosurgical Institute (now the N. N. Burdenko Institute of Neurosurgery of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR) was established in 1934. In 1937 he became the chief consulting surgeon of the Soviet Army.

Burdenko was one of the first to introduce into clinical practice surgery of the central and peripheral nervous systems. He investigated the causes of shock and methods for its treatment, introduced many innovations in the study of processes that arise in the central and peripheral nervous systems as a result of surgical intervention and acute traumas, and devised the bulbotomy—an operation in the upper portion of the spinal cord. Burdenko created a new school of surgeons with a strongly expressed experimental tendency. Work in the oncology of the central and autonomous nervous systems and the pathology of fluid circulation and blood circulation in the brain are among the valuable contributions of Burdenko and his school to the theory and practice of neurosurgery. He was one of the most active organizers and builders of Soviet public health care and devoted special attention to organization of military medical affairs. He was a member of the All-Union Central Executive Committee at the 16th Convocation of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and deputy at the First and Second Convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He received the State Prize of the USSR in 1941 and was awarded three Orders of Lenin, three other orders, and also medals. He was an honorary member of the International College of Surgeons and of the London Royal Society. Burdenko’s name was conferred upon the Central Military Hospital of the Armed Forces of the USSR. The Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR has established the N. N. Burdenko Prize for the best work in neurosurgery or military field surgery.


Sobr. soch., vols. 1-7. Moscow, 1950-52.


Bagdasar’ian, S. M. Nikolai Nilovich Burdenko. Moscow, 1954.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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