Vasily V. Parin

Vasily V. Parin

The founder of the USSR Academy of Medicine, he directed all medical aspects of the Soviet space program.

Vasily Vasilevich Parin was born on March 18, 1903, in the city of Kazan, Russia. In 1925, he received an M.D. degree from the University of Perm, and in 1939, a Doctorate in Physiology. From 1925 to 1933, Dr. Parin was head of the Physiology Department, University of Perm. In 1933, he was the head of the Physiology Department at Sverdlovsk Medical Institute. In 1941, Parin became the director of the first Moscow Medical Institute. In 1942, he was appointed USSR Deputy Commissar of Health, serving until 1947. During this time he founded and was the first Secretary General of, the USSR Academy of Medicine. He was also an editor of the Academy’s journal and editor-in-chief of the USSR Encyclopedia of Medicine.

In 1947, the infamous pseudo-scientist Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, promulgator of falsified genetic experiments purporting to prove inheritance of acquired characteristics in plants and animals as a result of stress, gained favor with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and political dominance over the USSR scientific community. He demanded that Dr. Parin organize an Institute of Human Genetics for the purpose of breeding Russian “supermen.” Professor Parin rejected Lysenko’s demands and was imprisoned as a result.

Dr. Vasily Parin served five years of hard labor in a Siberian prison for common criminals until Stalin’s death in 1953. After Nikita Khrushchev seized power later that year, Parin was released and reinstated as Head of the Physiology Laboratory in the Institute of Therapy, USSR Academy of Medical Sciences.

With the initiation of the Russian space program in 1954, Dr. Parin became director of biomedical and medical research in charge of selection, training, and monitoring of all cosmonauts. He was responsible for all medical aspects of the manned space flight programs of the USSR from 1956 until 1971. Experiments with dogs in orbital flight, such as Laika, the first living creature to orbit the Earth, were also directed by Parin from 1957 to 1966. He was also the founder and editor-in-chief or the USSR Journal of Space Biology and Medicine.

Acclaimed by the Soviets as the “Founder of Modern Concepts of the Development of Space Physiology and Medicine,” Parin made great efforts to strengthen international cooperation among scientists and published over 200 papers on basic circulatory physiology, medical electronics, cybernetics, and space medicine.

From 1965 to 1967, Vasily Parin was also the director of the Institute of Biomedical Problems (IMBP). The major goals of IMBP were the development of a system of medical monitoring and support of long-duration space missions, selection, and training of civilian crewmembers, bioengineering testing of flight equipment, and development of life support system concepts and requirements. The research IMBP performed was essential to later Soviet successes with their space stations Salyut and Mir. Professor Parin died in Moscow on June 15, 1971.