Ivan Pertovich Pavlov, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1904

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Ivan Pertovich Pavlov, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1904

Russian: Иван Петрович Павлов, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1904
Birthdate: (86)
Birthplace: Ryazan, gorod Ryazan', Ryazan Oblast, Russia
Death: February 27, 1936 (86)
Saint Petersburg, Russia (Pneumonia)
Immediate Family:

Son of Peter Dimitrievich Pavlov and Varvara Ivanova Pavlov
Husband of Серафима Васильевна Павлова and Seraphima Vasilievna Pavlov
Father of Владимир Иванович Павлов; Mirchik Pavlov; Vladimir Pavlov; Vera Pavlov; Vsevolod Pavlov and 1 other
Brother of Дмитрий Петрович Павлов; Лидия Петровна Андреева; Сергей Петрович Павлов and Петр Петрович Павлов

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About Ivan Pertovich Pavlov, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1904

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (Ива́н Петро́вич Па́влов; 26 September [O.S. 14 September] 1849 – 27 February 1936) was a famous Russian physiologist. From his childhood days Pavlov demonstrated intellectual brilliance along with an unusual energy which he named "the instinct for research". Inspired when the progressive ideas which D. I. Pisarev, the most eminent of the Russian literary critics of the 1860s and I. M. Sechenov, the father of Russian physiology, were spreading, Pavlov abandoned his religious career and decided to devote his life to science. In 1870 he enrolled in the physics and mathematics faculty at the University of Saint Petersburg to take the course in natural science. Ivan Pavlov devoted his life to the study of physiology and sciences, making several remarkable discoveries and ideas that were passed on from generation to generation. He won the Nobel Prize for physiology in 1904.

Early Life and Schooling

Ivan Pavlov, the eldest of eleven children. was born in Ryazan, now in the Central Federal District of Russia, where his father, Peter Dmitrievich Pavlov (1823–1899), was a village priest. Pavlov's mother, Varvara Ivanovna Uspenskaya, (1826 - 1890) was a devoted housewife and, as a child, Pavlov participated willingly in house duties, such as doing the dishes and taking care of his siblings. He loved to garden, ride his bicycle, row, swim, and play gorodki and devoted his summer vacations to these activities. Although able to read by the age of 7, Pavlov was seriously injured when He fell from a high wall on a stone pavement. As a result of his injuries, he did not attend school until the age of 11.

Pavlov attended and was graduated from the Ryazan Church School before entering the local theological seminary. In 1870, Pavlov left the seminary without graduating to attend Saint Petersburg University where he studied physics, mathematics and natural sciences. In his fourth year, his first research project on the physiology of the nerves of the pancreas won him a prestigious university award. In 1875, Pavlov completed his course with an outstanding record and received the degree of Candidate of Natural Sciences. However, impelled by his overwhelming interest in physiology, he decided to continue his studies and proceeded to the Academy of Medical Surgery. While there, Pavlov became an assistant to his former teacher, Tyson.

After some time, he obtained a position as a laboratory assistant to Professor Ustimovich at the physiology department of the Veterinary Institute, where for two years he worked on the circulatory system for his medical dissertation. In 1878, Professor S.P. Botkin, a famous Russian clinician, invited the gifted young physiologist to work in the physiological laboratory at his clinic as its chief. In 1879 Pavlov graduated from the Medical Military Academy with flying colors, and was awarded a gold medal for his research work. Pavlov won a fellowship at the Academy for postgraduate work. This together with his position as Director of the Physiological Laboratory of Prof. Botkin, enabled him to continue his research work. In 1883, he presented his doctoral thesis on the subject of "The centrifugal nerves of the heart" in which he developed his idea of "nervism", illustrated by the intensifying nerve of the heart which he had discovered, and furthermore laid down the basic principles on the trophic function of the nervous system. In this as well as in his collaboration with the Botkin clinic, Pavlov showed that there existed a basic pattern in the regulation of reflex in the activity of circulatory organs.


After completing his doctorate, Pavlov went to Germany where he studied in Leipzig with Carl Ludwig in the Heidenhain laboratories in Breslau. He remained there from 1884 to 1886. Heidenhain was studying digestion in dogs, using an exteriorized section of the stomach. However, Pavlov perfected the technique by overcoming the problem of maintaining the external nerve supply. The exteriorized section became known as the Heidenhai or Pavlov pouch. After two years (1884-1886),

Pavlov application for the chair of physiology at the University of Saint Petersburg was rejected. Although was offered to the chair of pharmacology at Tomsk University and later at the University of Warsaw, he turned down both offers. In 1890, he was appointed professor of Pharmacology at the Military Medical Academy and stayed there for 5 years. In 1891 Pavlov founded the Department of Physiology at the Institute of Experimental Medicine and served as its director for 45 years. Under his direction the department became one of the famous world centers of physiological research. In 1895 Pavlov was also appointed as chair of physiology at the Medical Military Academy, and served in this position for three decades.

In 1904, Pavlov was awarded the Nobel laureate "in recognition of his work on the physiology of digestion, through which knowledge on vital aspects of the subject has been transformed and enlarged".

Pavlov was highly regarded by the Soviet government, and he was able to continue his research until he reached a considerable age. He was praised by Lenin. The notion that animals, including human beings, can be taught to react to selected stimuli in a desired way — by 'brainwashing' them — is one that naturally appeals to tyrants and perhaps it was this, along with the favorable light his success was casting on Soviet Russia among western intellectuals, which accounted for the astonishing tolerance with which Pavlov was treated by the Soviet regime. However, despite the praise from the Soviet Union government, the money that poured out to support his laboratory, and the honors he was given, Pavlov made no attempts to conceal the disapproval and contempt in which he held Soviet Communism. For example, in 1923 he claimed that we would not sacrifice even the hind leg of a frog to the type of social experiment that the regime was conducting in Russia. Also, in 1927, he wrote to Stalin protesting at what was being done to Russian intellectuals and saying he was ashamed to be a Russian. After the murder of Sergei Kirov in 1934, Pavlov wrote several letters to Molotov criticizing the mass persecutions which followed and asking for the reconsideration of cases pertaining to several people he knew personally.

Conscious until his very last moment, Pavlov asked one of his students to sit beside his bed and to record the circumstances of his dying. He wanted to create unique evidence of subjective experiences of this terminal phase of life. Pavlov died of double pneumonia at the age of 86. He was given a state funeral, and his study and laboratory were preserved as a museum in his honor.

Married Life and Family Problems

Ivan Pavlov married Seraphima Vasilievna Karchevskaya on 1 May 1881. They met in 1878 or 1879 when Seraphima went to St. Petersburg to study at the Pedagogical Institute. Seraphima, called Sara for short, was born in 1855. In her later years, she suffered from ill health and died in 1947. Love touched Ivan far before it touched Sara. It was not until three years after their first meeting that Sara fell in love with Ivan.

The first nine years of their marriage were miserable due to financial problems. Pavlov and his wife often had to stay with friends in order to have a home. For a while they even had to live apart from each other. Although their general lack of money caused despair, material welfare was a secondary consideration.

Sara’s first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. When Sara became pregnant for the second time, however, the couple took great care and the baby arrived safely. Their first child, a son, was named Mirchik. Sara adored Mirchik and became very depressed after he died very suddenly while still a child. Sara and Mirchik were staying in a country home when he died, most likely as a result of some children’s summer disease. Ivan and Sara eventually had three more children: Vsevolod, Vladimir, and Vera. Their youngest son, Vsevolod, died of pancreatic cancer in 1935, only one year before Pavlov’s own death.

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Ivan Pertovich Pavlov, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1904's Timeline

September 14, 1849
Ryazan, gorod Ryazan', Ryazan Oblast, Russia
Age 33
October 1, 1884
Age 35
Age 34
Age 40
Age 42
Age 43
February 27, 1936
Age 86
Saint Petersburg, Russia