Zinaida Vissarionovna Yermolieva: biography and photos

Zinaida Ermolieva was an outstanding representative of Soviet medicine. She became the initiator of numerous advanced studies, thanks to which modern microbiology appeared.

early years

Zinaida Vissarionovna Yermolieva was born in 1898 in Frolovo, one of the numerous farms of the Don Cossack Region. I finished school in Novocherkassk. When it was time to choose a profession, the girl decided that her vocation was medicine. Yermolieva entered the Don University in Rostov-on-Don. Already in her youth the student showed outstanding features of her character. She was distinguished by purposefulness, efficiency, thirst for knowledge and strong will. Much later, already becoming a famous scientist, Zinaida Vissarionovna Ermolieva recalled how she loved to sneak into the laboratory secretly before she opened it, in order to tinker with the flasks for an extra hour or two.

The main passion of the student immediately became microbiology. It was to her that Zinaida Vissarionovna Ermolieva devoted her entire conscious life. After graduating from university, she remained in a higher educational institution as an assistant to the department of microbiology. Especially a lot of specialists paid attention to the study of pathogens. Just then, in the 20-ies of the XX century, new disciplines were intensively appearing, dedicated to these creatures. Since in the Soviet Union Yermolieva Zinaida Vissarionovna occupied this professional niche one of the first, her name was always associated with new and sometimes revolutionary discoveries.

Studies of cholera

In 1922, an outbreak of cholera occurred in Rostov-on-Don. Because of the unpreparedness of the authorities and the population, it soon turned into an epidemic. For Yermolieva it's time to study the disease not in test tubes, but in the streets of your city. Science then knew about cholera is not so much. A causative agent was known - the vibrio cholera. However, there were other bacteria similar to it, but never studied by scientists until the end.

It was with these microbes that Zinaida Vissarionovna Ermolieva worked for a long time. Trying to understand the impact of prototypes on the human body, she took a huge risk. Ermolieva herself infected herself in order to conduct a valuable experience for science. The experiment was a success. It was proved that bacteria related to vibrios in the human body mutate and become life-threatening.

Moving to Moscow

The main purpose of the experiments of Ermolieva and her colleagues was a vaccine that could protect the population from a deadly epidemic. Bacteria that cause cholera were tested for resistance to many substances. After lengthy and time-consuming tests of Ermoliev, Zinaida Vissarionovna proved that for the prevention of the population, it is sufficient to chlorinate water. The results of her scientific work formed the basis of new sanitary norms, which soon became mandatory for the whole country.

In the mid-1920s, already well-known, the microbiologist moved to Moscow, where he headed one of the departments at the Biochemical Institute under the People's Commissariat of Health of the RSFSR. Ermolieva and her team are working on the study of microbes, including those of the cholera vibrios. The researcher discovered a new subspecies of this microorganism. The pathogen differed from its relatives in that it could glow in pitch darkness. When the international scientific community got acquainted with the results of Ermolieva's work, it was decided to call this species her name.

International fame

In 1925 there was the first profile Soviet laboratory for the study of microbial biochemistry. Zinaida Vissarionovna Ermolieva became the founder and inspirer of this unique institution. The photo of the researcher began to constantly get into foreign scientific journals. In several countries her articles were published (on microbiology, epidemiology, etc.).

Then Yermolieva began to deal with toxins. In the Soviet Union, this phenomenon was studied singly. For the exchange of invaluable experience, the woman began to travel abroad on business trips, including to France and Germany. In this regard, she spent all her free time (which was very little) on foreign languages. In 1928, Yermolieva visited the microbiological institute named after Louis Pasteur in Paris. Especially fruitful was the joint work of Zinaida Vissarionovna with her German colleagues.

In Central Asia

By the end of the 1930s, several large Soviet specialists in the fight against cholera appeared. The main character of this group was Ermolieva Zinaida Vissarionovna. The biography of the woman because of this was full of a variety of dangerous business trips.

In 1939, the cholera epidemic in Afghanistan began. The Soviet authorities began organizing preventive measures so that the infection did not fall into the Central Asian socialist republics. A working group was sent to Tashkent, headed by Ermolieva Zinaida Vissarionovna. Children and adults, residents of large cities and distant auls - all were under the threat of infection. They helped the drug developed by Ermolieva. Also in Uzbekistan, a new testing system for the presence of a virus in the body was tested.

Working at the Tashkent Institute, Zinaida Vissarionovna, among other things, received a new drug that combined vaccines from several types of diseases at once. The medicine struggled with cholera, diphtheria and typhus.


In the 1930s, lysozyme studies were conducted in the Soviet Union, led by Yermolieva Zinaida Vissarionovna. Contribution to the microbiology of this woman was supplemented by the receipt of another important drug. It was an enzyme of lysozyme, which was used in the food industry as a preservative and in medicine as an antiseptic.

On this scientific path, Yermolieva completed the work of her predecessors. In 1909 Pavel Lashchenkov discovered the substance lysozyme. The scientist found it in a chicken egg and found that it can stop the spread of microbes. Later, lysozyme was found in human glands and tissues. However, all these discoveries have not found practical application.

New discoveries

For many years biologists have tried to find out the nature of the body's defense against bacteria. The study of lysozyme could reveal the veil of secrecy over this biological riddle. Zinaida Vissarionovna Ermolieva took up the study of the substance with her students. The merits of the microbiologist were already numerous, but she did not rest on her laurels, but continued to work a lot and productively for the benefit of all science.

Ermolieva's authorship belongs to the technology of lysozyme release. Moreover, she was the first to concentrate it to successfully use it in practice in medicine. Having determined the chemical nature of the substance, the researcher was able to detect lysozyme in various crops - horseradish, radish, etc. This discovery explained the effectiveness of various folk remedies against diseases and diseases.

Professor and Doctor of Science

Lizotzim was the subject of Ermolieva's research throughout her life, beginning in the 1930s. In 1970, her laboratory managed to synthesize this substance in a crystalline form. After that, lysozyme was used in ophthalmology, surgery, pediatrics and other fields.

Another application of lysozyme found in the food and agricultural industries. It began to be used as a preservative for some perishable products, for example caviar. The state appreciated the work of such a fruitful specialist as Ermolieva Zinaida Vissarionovna. The awards received by the microbiologist (the Stalin Prize, the Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner of Labor) were a reflection of the importance of her work. In addition, the researcher in 1935 became a doctor of sciences, and in 1939 a professor.

Help to Stalingrad

During the Great Patriotic War, the country especially needed such specialists as Zinaida Vissarionovna Ermolieva. "Parents" of Soviet microbiology and epidemiology were sent to Stalingrad in order to overcome the beginning wave of cholera in the beleaguered city. A complex operation to transfer scientists to the front-line zone was carried out because it was impossible to distribute the necessary preventive remedy to local residents bypasses. The only hope of the Stalingrad people was to establish the production of medicine in the city itself.

Despite all the dangers associated with street fighting, bombing and other horrors of the war, Zinaida Yermolieva together with her team organized a massive vaccination of the population. When production was established, a cherished remedy began to take on 50 thousand people a day. Thanks to the operational work of microbiologists and doctors, we managed to avoid a mass epidemic in the city weakened by the Wehrmacht.

Search for an antibiotic

While in Stalingrad and watching the wounded soldiers of the Red Army, Zinaida Ermolieva drew attention to the fact that most of those who died died not because of the wounds themselves, but because of blood contamination and related complications. At the same time, her laboratory began research on the solution of this problem.

Ermolieva in her research was based on the discovery of Alexander Fleming. In 1929 he received a fundamentally new substance for medicine - penicillin. This antibiotic, naturally related to molds, became a veritable revolution in pharmacology. Fleming has never been able to make his discovery widely available, since the strain was extremely unstable. Now this task was put by Ermoleva Zinaida Vissarionovna. Penicillin could become the basis of a universal medicine for diseases caused by streptococci and staphylococci.

The appearance of Soviet penicillin

The first samples of domestic penicillin appeared in 1942. It was important that only Soviet raw materials were used for its synthesis. A few months later, Howard Flory came to the USSR. This scientist was a professor at Oxford University, who managed to achieve similar success in the United States.

The Briton brought his own samples of the medicine to Moscow for comparison. The analysis showed that the penicillin Ermolieva acted much more efficiently. Despite this, in 1945, the Nobel Committee awarded the Prize in Physiology and Medicine was Howard Chlori.

At the front

Although the Great Patriotic War was already at the final stage, thousands of Soviet soldiers still needed emergency assistance. At the end of 1944, Ermoliev, along with the great surgeon Nikolay Burdenko, went to the front to test the drug in combat conditions. Soviet penicillin withstood a decisive test - the medicine really helped the wounded Red Army men. After this, the production of the drug began.

All half a year at the front, Professor Ermolieva had to work in extreme conditions. Her laboratory was in the basement, and all the equipment was assembled in a hurry. Despite the unusual surroundings, an outstanding microbiologist coped with her task.

After the war

In the postwar years, Zinaida Yermolieva began to represent the Soviet Union in the World Health Organization. The choice fell on her is not accidental. She knew languages well, and the amount of her services to the national medicine was outstanding. In 1956, the epidemiologist headed the WHO Committee on Antibiotics. In this post, Zinaida Yermolieva remained for the rest of her life.

In the 50's and 60's, she resumed her journalistic activities, interrupted by the war. In just a long career, Yermolieva has authored more than 500 scientific papers. Then she became famous throughout the country thanks to Veniamin Kaverin. Soviet writer used the biography of Zinaida Vissarionovna as a prototype of the life story of the main character of her novel "The Open Book". It was published in parts in literary journals in 1948-1956.

Kaverin knew Yermoliev personally since 1928. They were brought down by the writer's brother - Lev Zilber, who was a researcher in the field of virology and oncology. The scientist for a long time was a colleague of Ermolieva. During the Stalinist repression, Zilber was in the camp. On one of his visits with Zinaida Vissarionovna, he gave her a secret manuscript of his scientific work, which the researcher continued directly in the Gulag. This episode, like many others, demonstrates great courage and devotion to the vocation of Yermolieva. Zinaida Vissarionovna continued to work and explore to the very end. She died on December 2, 1974, leaving a grandiose scientific heritage to her descendants.

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