Vladimir Engelgardt

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Engel’gardt, Vladimir Aleksandrovich


Born Nov. 21 (Dec. 3), 1894, in Moscow. Soviet biochemist. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1953; corresponding member, 1946); member of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR (1944). Hero of Socialist Labor (1969).

Engel’gardt graduated from Moscow University in 1919, and from 1921 to 1927 he was a research worker at the Biochemical Institute of the People’s Commissariat for Public Health. He was a professor at the University of Kazan and the Kazan Medical Institute from 1929 to 1933, at Leningrad University from 1934 to 1940, and at Moscow University from 1936 to 1959. Engel’gardt was head of the laboratory of animal cell biochemistry at the A. N. Bakh Institute of Biochemistry from 1935 to 1959, the laboratory of animal cell biochemistry at the I. P. Pavlov Institute of Physiology of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in Leningrad from 1944 to 1950, and the biochemistry department at the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR in Leningrad from 1945 to 1952. From 1955 to 1959 he served as academician-secretary of the Division of Biological Sciences of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In 1959 he was appointed organizer and director of the Institute of Molecular Biology of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in Moscow.

Engel’gardt’s principal works are devoted to the metabolism of organic phosphorus compounds, the role these compounds play in the energetics and physiological functions of cells, and the connection between the energetic processes and mechanical properties of the proteins in muscle fibers. While conducting tests on nuclear erythrocytes in birds and reticulocytes in mammals, Engel’gardt discovered the aerobic resynthesis of adenosinetri-phosphate (ATP), which is accompanied by cell respiration, or respiratory phosphorylation; the problem of oxidative phosphorylation later became a central problem in bioenergetics. He described the process of carbohydrate oxidation whereby hexose is converted to pentose by the loss of one carbon group. He also advanced an explanation of the Pasteur effect, which is a slowing or complete cessation of fermentation in the presence of oxygen.

In 1939, Engel’gardt and his colleague M. N. Liubimova discovered the enzymatic activity of myosin, a structural protein in muscles, and showed that ATP gives muscles the ability to function; moreover, they discovered that myosin not only splits ATP but also alters its own physical properties at the same time. These studies correlated the physical structure, chemical mechanism, and function of the biopolymer.

The theoretical generalizations made by Engel’gardt relate to many of the most important problems in biochemistry. Engel’gardt is one of the founders of molecular biology in the USSR, and he established many of its theoretical and organizational principles. His works on myosin were the first studies in the field. In 1960 he undertook an investigation of the structure and function of nucleic acids and enzymes in protein biosynthesis. In 1972 and 1973 he organized Project Revertase, which involves research on reverse transcription. He has also attended the Pugwash Conferences.

Engel’gardt received the State Prize of the USSR in 1943 and 1979, and he has been awarded four Orders of Lenin, two other orders, various medals, and the M. V. Lomonosov Gold Medal of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.


“Okislitel’nyi raspad fosfogliukonovoi kisloty.” Biokhimiia, 1938, vol. 3, issue 4. (With A. P. Barkhash.)
“Fosfornaia kislota i funktsii kletki.” lzv. AN SSSR: Seriia biologicheskaia, 1945, no. 2. (Contains bibliography.)
“Orthound Pyrophosphat im aeroben und anaeroben Stoffwechsel der Blutzellen.” Biochemische Zeitschrift, 1930, vol. 227, issues 1–3.
“Myosine and Adenosinetriphosphatase.” Nature, 1939, vol. 144, no. 3650, pp. 668–69. (With M. N. Liubimova.)
“On the Dual Role of Respiration.” Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 1974, vol. 5, nos. 1–2.


Vladimir Aleksandrovich Engel’gardt. Moscow, 1955. (Materialy k biobibliografii uchenykh SSSR: Ser. biokhimii, fase. 4).
“V. A. Engel’gardt: K 80-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia.” Molekuliarnaia biologiia, 1975, vol. 9, issue 1.
Knuniants, I. L. “Vydaiushchiisia estestvoispytatel’: K 80-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia V. A. Engel’gardta,” Vestnik AN SSSR, 1974, no. 12.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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