Pavlov Institute of Physiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences originates from the Physiological Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences, which was founded in 1925 on the base of the Physiological Laboratory.
The first Director of the Institute of Physiology until 1936 was an outstanding scientist, the first Nobel Prize winner in theoretical medicine, Academician Ivan P. Pavlov. The main goal of the Institute was to study physiology of brain hemispheres by the method of conditional reflexes. By the early 1930s, the main problem investigated at the Institute included regularities of the activity of brain hemispheres, interactions of the excitation and inhibition processes, types of the nervous system, experimental neuroses as well as the higher nervous activity of primates. In 1934, new Departments were founded (Anatomy, Biochemistry, Biophysics, Experimental Psychology) and the ground was provided for detailed studies on the structural and physico-chemical basis of physiology and psychology of theanimal and human brain. Initiated by Pavlov, neurogenetical investigations began.
In 1936, after Pavlov's death, the Physiological Institute was awarded his name. The Institute was headed by his associate, Academician Leon A. Orbeli. Under Orbeli's guidance, in 1936–1950, the higher nervous activity physiology was added by evolutionary, comparative and age physiology as well as physiology of the autonomous nervous system and of sense organs. Studies on cell biochemistry and cell biophysics developed.
During the Second World War, researchers of the Institute were involved in solving military time applied problems, including treatment of consequences of traumas of the central and peripheral nervous system and mechanisms of adaptation to hypoxia.
In continuing creatively the Ivan Pavlov's scientific inheritance of the higher nervous activity, the Institute has become, by the late 1940s, one of the centers of development of evolutionary physiology, sensory system physiology, concept of the second signal system, husbandry physiology.
In 1949, the year of Pavlov 100-anniversary, the Pavlov Memorial Complex was opened and included into the Institute.
In 1950, Pavlov Physiological Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences merged with Pavlov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Pathology of the Higher Nervous Activity of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences and with Institute of the Central Nervous System of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences. The new Pavlov Institute of Physiology of the USSR Academy of Sciences was headed by Academician Konstantin M. Bykov. In the 1950s, the Institute became the largest physiological center for investigations on physiology and pathology of the higher nervous activity, general physiology of the nervous system, physiology of sense organs, evolutionary and ecological physiology. One of the principal directions of studies at this period was physiology and pathology of the cortico-visceral interrelations. Achievements in these studies played an important role in formation and generalization of the modern concept of genesis of the human psychosomatic diseases. In 1954, a plan was outlined, and started to be realized, of the further development of the Institute on the base of the research campus in the village of Pavlovo (Koltushi).
From 1959 to 1977, the Institute was headed by Academician Vladimir N. Chernigovsky. At that period, the investigations of the Institute were concentrated on development of three major directions: neurophysiology and physiology of the higher nervous activity; physiology of sensory systems and speech; physiology of visceral systems. Priority data were obtained on structural-functional organization of visceral organ receptors and their representation in the brain cortex, mechanisms of perception and processing of the sensory information, role of the striato-thalamo-cortical system in regulation of behavior, ontogenesis of motivational-emotional reactions. Academician Alexander M. Ugolev discovered a new important type of digestion, the contact digestion, which is a universal mechanism of food digestion. Complex studies were carried out on participation of different physiological systems in processes of adaptation to external and internal medium factors and their role in maintaining the organismal homeostasis. Academician A.D. Nozdrachev developed concept of the metasympathetic nervous system, an independent part (alongside the sympathetic and parasympathetic ones) of the autonomous nervous system. According to this concept, groups of neurons of the metasympathetic nervous system are able to regulate (without intervention of centrifugal impulses) the motor activity of visceral organs, to control secretory and excretory processes, dynamics of capillary permeability, and to perform regulation of activity of local (intraorgan) endocrine and immune elements.
During 1977–1981, the actual Director of the Institute was Professor Kirill P. Ivanov. He initiated organization of the Inter-Institute Biological Computer Center, the Group of Mathematical Data Processing, and the Group of Automation of Researches.
From 1981 to 1994, the Institute was headed by Academician Vladimir A. Govyrin. During this period, three main directions of investigations dominated: molecular, cellular, genetical and systemic mechanisms of adaptive behavior; principles of perception and processing of information by sense organs; structural-functional organization of central control mechanisms of the visceral organ activity.
In the 1980–1990s under the guidance of Academician V. A. Govyrin and from the mid-1990s until now under the guidance of the Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences D. P. Dvoretsky, further developed were investigation on regularities of interrelations of local and central mechanisms of regulation of circulation, vascular tone, respiration, hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical system. Mechanisms were established which determine noise-resistance of the human and animal auditory and visual systems. New neurophysiological mechanisms of spinal locomotion were disclosed. There was revealed a role of genes controlling universal properties of the nervous system, which are connected with adaptation and learning processes. An essential importance was discovered of intracellular second messengers for realization of the genetical information determining activity of the nervous system. There was substantiated the concept of the universal principle of formation of long-term adaptive brain states at the molecular-cellular level.
At present, Pavlov Institute of Physiology is one of the largest multi-profile physiological institutions of the country. Working in its 33 laboratories, sectors and groups are more than 250 researchers, including about 200 Doctors and Candidates of Sciences.
The Institute is located both in St. Petersburg and is in the research campus Koltushi founded by Ivan Pavlov and located in the vicinity of St. Petersburg. The campus includes modern laboratory buildings, Pavlov Memorial Complex, animal and anthropoid houses, scientific library, life supply infrastructure, residence buildings, park. The Institute has one of the largest libraries of the physiological profile, which was founded in the late XIX century in the Physiological laboratory of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It contains a great many books and journals on investigations in the field of physiology, biochemistry, anatomy, and medicine carried out for many decades till the present time. It has the personal I. P. Pavlov's library and monographs of prominent Russian and foreign scientists.
In preserving continuity of the traditional studies initiated by I. P. Pavlov and taking into account advances in modern physiology, the Institute goes on with development of fundamental and applied investigations on mechanisms of the higher nervous activity, functioning of the organism sensory and visceral systems, deciphering of processes of their regulation and adaptation to factors of environment and internal medium.
The complex character and the goal orientation of studies are provided by the long-term Program developed by the Institute: « Mechanisms of regularities and interaction of the human and animal organism physiological systems in processes of adaptation to the environmental conditions» in compliance with the priority directions of investigations approved by the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Investigations of the Institute not only are of important theoretical significance, but also promote solution of many practical problems of medicine, pedagogy, informatics, husbandry and give grounds for development and introduction of effective ways of an increase of organism adaptational possibilities and human activity optimization under onditions of the ecological and social stress.
The researchers of the Institute traditionally perform a large international cooperation: their studies are carried out with support both of the Russian and of various foreign programs and foundations. In the frame of this cooperation, for the recent decade, the Institute researchers went out more than 500 times for foreign missions both for performance of cooperative investigations and for participation in scientific events. During the same time, more that 700 foreign scientists were accepted at the Institute.