Biochemistry Department founder professor S.E. Severin

The Department of animal biochemistry was founded in 1939 by Professor (later Academician) Sergei Severin. Professor S.E. Severin became the first head of a newly organized department and Professor (later Academician) Vladimir Engelhardt became the second Professor of this chair. At that time the new department had four small rooms in the old building of the Moscow State University on Mokhovaya Street. The staff of this chair consisted of A.V. Golubtsova, N.P. Meshkova, K.F. Sorvachev and S.E. Severin. The first students graduated from the Department of Animal Biochemistry in 1940. Among those first students were Galina Andreenko (who later became a Professor and successfully worked in the field of hemostasis) and Nikolai Yudaev (who later also became a Professor and who contributed a lot in domestic endocrinology). The Second World War interrupted the normal functioning of Department which was evacuated from Moscow and returned only in 1943.

A new building of the Moscow State University on Lenin Hills was erected in 1954 and the Department of Biochemistry moved to the new building and was increased in size. At that time, the staff of the department consisted of the Corresponding Member of Academy of Sciences Prof. S.E. Severin, Academician V.A. Engelhardt and Associate Professors A.V. Golubtsova, N.V. Alexakhina and K.F. Sorvachev. Associate Professor (later Professor) N.P. Meshkova was the organizer of the large practical course of biochemistry. Young former students started to work at the department of biochemistry. Among them were I.M. Bocharnikova and E.V. Petushkova, who investigated myosin, E.A. Mishukova who was working with glycolytic enzymes, P.L. Vulfson, L.K. Skolisheva and G.A. Solovyeva, who investigated enzymes involved in glycogen synthesis and breakdown, A.A. Boldyrev, who analyzed the effect of dipeptides (carnosine and anserine) on muscle contractile activity, G.A. Kochetov who worked with transketolase, N.K. Nagradova, M.I. Safronova, who analyzed different dehydrogenases, and many others. A group of young scientists started the successful investigations of mechanisms of oxidative phosphorylation. Among them were V.P. Skulachev, A.D. Vinogradov and Yu.N. Leikin.

Professor S.E. Severin and docent N.P. Meshkova in the laboratory of Biochemistry department in the old university building.

In the beginning of the 1960s a new Institution was founded at the Moscow State University. In the beginning, this Interfaculty laboratory of bioorganic chemistry was headed by Academician A.N. Belozersky. In 1972, Academician V.P. Skulachev, the former student of Department of Biochemistry, became a Director of this institution renamed the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry. Two new divisions were organized in the Institute. The first division of Bioenergetics was headed by Academician V.P. Skulachev and the second division, division of animal cell was headed by the Academician S.E. Severin. Both of these divisions had close contacts with the Department of Biochemistry for the staff of these divisions was predominantly represented by the former students of the Department. The staff of the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry performed original and interesting investigations in the field of bioenergetics (Academician V.P. Skulachev), enzymology (Professors N.K. Nagradova, G.A. Kochetov, V.I. Muronetz, V.S. Gomaskova, L.S. Khailova) and cellular signaling (Prof P.P. Filippov). Many students of the Department of Biochemistry worked in different divisions of the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry and the leading scientists (Profs. N.K. Nagradova, V.I. Muronetz, P.P. Filippov, V.P. Skulachev) of this Institute participated in the education process at the Department of Biochemistry. A new direction of investigations was started at the Department of Biochemistry in the end of the 1960s/beginning of the 1970's. This direction deals with investigation of molecular mechanisms of hormone activity and cellular signaling. In 1977 Academician S.E. Severin initiated the organization of a new laboratory of enzyme chemistry. Prof. E.S. Severin and Drs. T.V. Bulargina and V.A. Tkachuk were the main persons directly involved in the organization of this laboratory. The new laboratory performed original and interesting investigations of the structure of the active site of cyclic AMP-dependent proteins kinase (I.A. Grivennikov, S.P. Petukhov), of different isoforms of phosphodiesterase of cyclic nucleotides (I.D. Bobrukin), of participation of G-proteins in hormonal signal transduction (V.A. Tkachuk, A.V. Skurat, K.M. Popov, A.Ya. Kots), and on the role of Ca-binding proteins (especially calmodulin) in regulation of intracellular processes (V.A. Tkachuk, M.Yu. Menshikov). In the 1980s, the members of the laboratory started new investigations directed to obtaining monoclonal antibodies and the utilization of immunochemical methods in different fields of biochemistry and medicine. This new direction of investigations was started by T.V. Bulargina, A.G. Katrukha and A.V. Bereznikova, and resulted in the obtaining of a number of different antibodies widely used for the diagnosis of different cardiovascular diseases. At present, the laboratory of Enzyme chemistry has moved to the Department of Bioorganic Chemistry. However, this has not changed its close contact with the Department of Biochemistry.

Members of Biochemistry department in 1979.

For many years, the main direction of investigations at the Department of Biochemistry was the analysis of the structure, properties and mechanism of the functioning of different enzymes and proteins. Were working (or still are working) at the Department of Biochemistry are the scientific groups investigating different problems of bioenergetics (V.P. Skulachev, A.D. Vinogradov), physiological role and mechanism of action of low molecular weight nitrogen containing extractive compounds (H.P. Meshkova, E.I. Koroleva, A.A. Boldyrev), different enzymes of glycolysis and pentose pathway (N.K. Nagradova, G.A. Kochetov, V.I. Muronetz), enzymes involved in glycogen metabolism (P.L. Vulfson, G.A. Solovyeva), dehydrogenases of α-ketoacids (L.S. Khailova, V.S. Gomaskova, M.M. Feigina), enzymes involved in ATP accumulation and utilization (T.Yu. Lipskaya, N.Yu. Goncharova, L.V. Belousova), membrane transporting ATPases (A.A. Boldyrev, O.D. Lopina, A.M. Rubtsov) and different contractile and regulatory proteins (I.M. Bocharnikova, E.V. Petushkova, N.B. Gusev).

At present, the teaching staff of the department consists of five Professors, five Associate Professors, four Assistant Professors and a number of technicians. The scientific staff consists of one Leading Scientist, four Major Scientists, six Scientists and two Junior Scientists which are supported by a number of engineers and technicians.

Academician S.E. Severin, the founder of Department of Biochemistry, and its head for more than 50 years, established a large school of Russian biochemists. The former students of the Department of Biochemistry are successfully working in practically all biochemical laboratories of Russia and the former Soviet Union. Starting from 1939, the Department of Biochemistry prepared more than 1000 specialists. The Department is proud of its former students, which have become leading scientists and are recognized all over the world. Among them are Academicians of the Russian Academy of Sciences, L.L. Kiselev, V.P. Skulachev, V.A. Gvozdev, S.V. Shestakov, V.A. Tkachuk, Corresponding Member of Russian Academy of Sciences B.F. Poglazov, Academicians of Russian Academy of Medical Sciences Yu.A. Vladimirov, N.A. Yudaev and many others.

The present-day generation of the members of the Department tries to keep old traditions. Starting from 1999, special Severin Annual Meetings are organized. At this meeting, the leading biochemists give special lectures devoted to the actual problems of modern biochemistry and the most outstanding students, which are specialized in the field of physicochemical biology, are awarded a special stipend named after the founder of our Department Academician S.E. Severin.