At the initiative of Raul Gainetdinov, Director of the SPbU Institute of Translational Biomedicine, Scientific Director of the SPbU Hospital, and Igor Tikhonovich, Dean of the Faculty of Biology, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Rector of St Petersburg University decided to create a museum dedicated to Dmitry Ivanovsky, an outstanding University scholar credited as one of the founders of virology. The new exhibition will provide an insight into the life and work of this great scientist, as well as into the discovery of the world's first virus at St Petersburg University.


As Raul Gainetdinov noted, even though viruses have already become the central focus of 2020, few are aware that it was at St Petersburg University that they were first discovered.

“The brilliant Russian scientist Dmitry Iosifovich Ivanovsky, a graduate of our University, was the first person in the world who provided evidence of viruses' existence. At the moment of his discovery, he worked at St Petersburg University as an assistant lecturer and later as a privatdozent,” Professor Gainetdinov said.

He added that Ivanovsky's priority of discovery was acknowledged by the world scientific community and he is deservedly considered a founding father of virology, the science dealing with the study of viruses. Yet this fact is by no means a widely known one among nonexperts. In this regard, the idea of ​​creating a museum arose.

The new museum will be set up in the very heart of St Petersburg, the Twelve Collegia Building where Dmitry Ivanovsky worked. The collection will be based on archival documents and tools used by Ivanovsky to conduct his research in the late 19th century. Moreover, St Petersburg University will be happy to receive potential exhibits from organizations and citizens. Anyone who wants to take part in the creation of this museum can send their proposals to Elizaveta Tapakova-Boyarskaya, Head of the University Department of Exhibitions and Collections: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Learn more about the University museum activities here.

For reference:

Dmitry Iosifovich Ivanovsky is an outstanding Russian physiologist and microbiologist, one of the founders of virology, a graduate of and lecturer at St Petersburg University. He was born in the village of Nizy, St Petersburg Governorate, on 28 October 1864. In 1883, Dmitry Ivanovsky became a student of the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of St Petersburg University. In 1888, he graduated with a Candidate of Sciences degree. To be awarded it, he had to earn more than half "excellent" grades and submit a scientific "essay". Ivanovsky submitted a paper titled On Two Diseases of Tobacco Plants. It presented the findings of his research initiated in the summer of 1887 in Bessarabia and Crimea and funded by the Free Economic Society. After graduation, the scientist became a staff member of the Department of Botany at St Petersburg University and continued his research.

In February 1892, Ivanovsky's paper On Two Diseases of Tobacco summing up his five-year work was published in the Selskoe khozyaystvo i lesovodstvo journal. This publication is considered to mark the beginning of the development of virology.

Exploring tobacco disease, Ivanovsky was the first in the world to discover the existence of viruses. Moreover, his merit lies not only in the discovery of a completely new type of diseases but also in the fact that he developed methods for studying them, thus becoming the founder of the methods of studying viral diseases in plants and pathological cytology of viral diseases.

In January 1895, Dmitry Ivanovsky defended his master's thesis titled Studies on Alcohol Fermentation, was qualified for lecturing on lower organism physiology and was conferred the privatdozent title. In the course of the following five years, he worked at the Department of Botany at St Petersburg University.

In 1901, Ivanovsky was appointed an extraordinary professor at Warsaw University, the Department of Plant Anatomy and Physiology. In 1903, he became an ordinary professor there. After Warsaw University was evacuated to Rostov-on-Don in 1915, Dmitry Ivanovsky worked as a professor at Don University. He passed away in 1920 at the age of 55.