Nikolai Konstantinovich Koltsov (Russian: Николай
Константинович Кольцов; July 14, 1872 –
December 2, 1940) was a Russian biologist and a pioneer of modern
genetics. Among his students were Nikolay Timofeeff-Ressovsky,
Vladimir Pavlovich Efroimson
Vladimir Pavlovich Efroimson and Nikolay Dubinin.
3 Additional information
Koltsov graduated from
Moscow University in 1894 and was a professor
there (1895-1911). He established and directed the Institute of
Experimental Biology in the middle of 1917, just before the October
revolution. He was a member of the Agricultural Academy (VASKhNIL).
In 1920, Koltsov was arrested as a member of the non-existent
"anti-Soviet Tactical Center" invented by the VCheKa. Prosecutor
Nikolai Krylenko demanded the death sentence for Koltsov (67 of around
1000 arrested people were executed). However, after a personal
Vladimir Lenin by
Maxim Gorky Koltsov was released and was
restored to his position as the head of the Koltsov Institute of
In 1937 and 1939, the supporters of
Trofim Lysenko published a series
of propaganda articles against
Nikolai Koltsov and Nikolai Vavilov.
They wrote: "The Institute of
Genetics of the Academy of Sciences not
only did not criticize Professor Koltsov's fascistic nonsense, but
even did not dissociate itself from his "theories" which support the
racial theories of fascists". His death in 1940 was claimed to have
been due to a stroke. However, "the biochemist
Ilya Zbarsky revealed
that the unexpected death of Koltsov was a result of his poisoning by
the NKVD", the secret police of the Soviet Union. The same day his
wife, the scientist Maria Sadovnikova Koltsova, committed suicide.
Nikolai Koltsov worked on cytology and vertebrate anatomy. In 1903
Koltsov proposed that the shape of cells was determined by a network
of tubules which he termed the cytoskeleton. In 1927 Koltsov proposed
that inherited traits would be inherited via a "giant hereditary
molecule" which would be made up of "two mirror strands that would
replicate in a semi-conservative fashion using each strand as a
template". These ideas were confirmed to have been accurate in 1953
James D. Watson
James D. Watson and
Francis Crick described the structure of DNA.
Watson and Crick had apparently not heard of Koltsov. US geneticist
Richard Goldschmidt wrote about him: "There was the brilliant Nikolai
Koltsov, probably the best Russian zoologist of the last generation,
an enviable, unbelievably cultured, clear-thinking scholar, admired by
everybody who knew him".
A small municipality in Novosibirsk region, which in 2003 obtained the
status of the Science town of the Russian Federation, Koltsovo, was
named after Nikolai Koltsov.
^ a b c Vadim J. Birstein. The Perversion Of Knowledge: The True Story
of Soviet Science. Westview Press (2004) ISBN 0-8133-4280-5
^ a b c d Valery N. Soyfer. The consequences of political dictatorship
for Russian science. Nature Reviews
Genetics 2: 723-729 (2001)
^ Koltsovo, Novosibirsk Oblast
ISNI: 0000 0001 0653 6760