Parnas, Iakov Oskarovich
Born Jan. 16 (28), 1884, in the village of Mokriany, now in Drogobych Raion, L’vov Oblast; died Jan. 29, 1949, in Moscow. Soviet biochemist. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1942) and the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR (1944).
After graduating from the Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg (Berlin) in 1904, Parnas continued his studies in Strasbourg during 1905 and in Zürich from 1906 to 1907. He became a docent at Strasbourg in 1913 and was appointed to the chair of physiological chemistry at the University of Warsaw in 1916. Parnas was a professor and director of the Institute of Medical Chemistry at the University of L’vov from 1920 to 1941 and director of the Institute of Biochemistry of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR from 1944 to 1948. He organized and, from 1943 to 1948, was head of the laboratory of physiological chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
Parnas’ principal works dealt with carbohydrate metabolism and the enzymatic processes responsible for muscular contraction. In 1935, in collaboration with the Polish scientist T. Baranowski, he discovered a glycogen splitting reaction that uses phosphoric acid, which he called phosphorolysis. Parnas gave a theoretical analysis of the mechanism of glycolysis and alcoholic fermentation and of the interconnections between glycolysis and other metabolic reactions in muscle tissue. He was one of the first in the USSR to employ isotope techniques in biochemical research.
A member of the Leopoldina German Academy of Naturalists and a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of Poland, Parnas received honorary doctorates from the Sorbonne and the University of Athens. He was awarded the State Prize of the USSR in 1942, the Order of Lenin, and the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.