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Revolutionary ExperimentsThe Quest for Immortality in Bolshevik Science and Fiction$
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Nikolai Krementsov

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199992980

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199992980.001.0001

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“The Billionaire’s Last Will”: Hormones and Institutions

“The Billionaire’s Last Will”: Hormones and Institutions

(p.97) 4 “The Billionaire’s Last Will”: Hormones and Institutions
Revolutionary Experiments

Nikolai Krementsov

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on actual and fictional experiments with hormones which both scientists and writers saw as a powerful tool for manipulating the shape and functioning of the human body. It demonstrates that, for scientists, hormones also become a convenient instrument for influencing their Bolshevik patrons, notably the head of Narkomzdrav Nikolai Semashko. It documents the joint efforts—and different goals—of scientists and their patrons in conducting a different kind of experiment: building large institutional structures for a new biomedical discipline, endocrinology. It analyses tactics and strategies employed by the veterinarian Iakov Tobolkin and the eminent internist Vasilii Shervinskii in creating an Institute of Experimental Endocrinology in Moscow. It shows that although the transformative power of hormones over human body and personality did fire up writers’ imagination, the institutional embodiment of that power completely eluded their attention.

Keywords:   organotherapy, hormones, Iakov Tobolkin, Vasilii Shervinskii, Nikolai Semashko, Narkomzdrav, Institute Experimental Endocrinology

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