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Boris Petrovich Babkin

Born  1877
Died  1950

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Russian-Canadian neurologist, born January 5, 1877, Kursk, Russia; died 1950, Canada.

Biography of Boris Petrovich Babkin

Boris Petrovich Babkin received his education at the Military-Medical Academy in St. Petersburg, where he began post-graduate study in the History of Medicine. He received his doctorate from this institute in 1904. Being little attracted to clinical medicine, Babkin hoped to combine his study of medical history with actual experience in its clinical and experimental aspects. In this connection, be first entered the laboratory of Ivan Pavlov at the Institute of Experimental Medicine. Although Pavlov met Babkin's avowal of' interest in Medical History, which he considered purely academic, with rather vehement contempt, he nevertheless agreed to let the young Babkin join his laboratory.

By 1902, Babkin had decided definitely to become a physiologist. He therefore remained as an assistant in Pavlov's laboratory until 1912, when he was appointed to the Chair of Animal Physiology at the Agricultural Institute of Novo Alexandria. He had been appointed associate professor (Privatdozent) of physiology in 1907.

In 1915, Babkin went to the University of Odessa as Professor of Physiology. However, in 1922, he was forced to leave Russia for political reasons. The details of this episode are obscure. Babkin went to London, where he worked for a time in the laboratory of Sir Ernest Henry Starling (1866-1927).

After immigrating to America, Babkin in 1924 received an appointment as professor of physiology at Dalhousie University, Halifax, a position that he held until 1928 when he came to McGill University, Montreal, and Quebec, Canada. Babkin was a Research Professor of Physiology at McGill University until 1946, and held the position of Department Chairman in 1940-1941. In addition, he was also a Research Fellow in Physiology from 1942 until 1947. After 1946, Babkin was associated with the Montreal Neurological Institute and simultaneously was Research Fellow of Neurology at McGill. The Year before his death in 1950, Babkin was awarded the Julius Friedenwald Medal for 1949 by the American Gastroenterological Association.

Throughout his life, Babkin continued his experimental work and produced many scientific articles. In addition, he and his wife Elena carried on a personal correspondence with Ivan Pavlov and his family. His work concerns digestion, motility of the digestive channel, and the central nervous system.


  • Opit sistematitscheskowo izutschenija sloznonervnîch (psichitscheskich) javlenij u sobaki(Systematic investigations of the nervous phenomena in dogs). St. Petersburg, 1904.
  • Die äussere Sekretion der Verdauungsdrüsen.
    Berlin, 1914; 2nd edition, 1928.
  • Pavlov: A Biography.
    University of Chicago Press, 1949. Reissued 1971.
    Based on personal and professional knowledge. Babkin was one of Pavlov's oldest pupils. This is the most complete and reliable account of Pavlov until World War I. In dealing with Pavlov's later life Babkin depends upon other sources, including the memoirs of his widow.
  • Secretory Mechanisms of the Digestive Glands.
    2nd rev. ed. (1950)
The Osler Library at the McGill University has a large collection of Babkins works, as well a papers on Pavlov. Most of the biographical information above was found on the homepage of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine

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