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Lina Solomonovna Stern (Lina Shtern)

Lina Solomonovna Stern was a Soviet biochemist, physiologist and humanist whose medical discoveries saved thousands of lives at the fronts of World War II. She is best known for her pioneering work on blood–brain barrier, which she described as hemato-encephalic barrier in 1921.


  • Born in Libau in the Russian Empire (today Liepāja, Latvia) into a Jewish family and educated in Geneva, Switzerland, she pursued an academic career and performed original research in biochemistry and in the neurosciences. From 1918 onwards she was the first woman awarded professional rank at the University of Geneva, being a Professor of chemio-physiology, and researching cellular oxidation.

  • Education

    • She was educated in Riga and received her Medical Degree from the University of Geneva in Switzerland.


    • She worked as an assistant in biochemistry in The University of Geneva from 1917 to 1925. In 1925 she became professor of physiology at the Second Moscow Medical Institute of Moscow University.

      In 1929 Stern was appointed director and chief professor at the Physiological Scientific Research Institute, Moscow, and director of the Department of General Physiology at the All-Union Institute of Experimental Medicine. She was elected a member of the German Academy of Natural Sciences in 1932 and a member of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1939, the first woman admitted to the latter body.

      Between 1910 and 1947 Stern wrote over three hundred scientific papers on biology and physiology in Russian and German on a variety of subjects including the central nervous system, the endocrine system, sleep, catalase, oxidation ferments, oxidizing processes in animals, neurohormone regulation, the blood-brain barrier, cerebrospinal fluid, and defense mechanism and blood plexuses in the brain. She also edited Reports of the Convention’s Discussions on the Problems of the Nervous System, (1946).

      Although she had received many awards and gold medals including the Stalin medal, she was removed from all her positions during the Russian anti-Jewish purges of 1948-1949 and stripped of all her honors, being accused of “rootless cosmopolitanism.” After Stalin’s death she was reinstated and her honors returned to her.

    Major achievements

    • She was the first female professor at the University of Geneva, the first female member of the USSR Academy of Sciences.


    She was a member of Communist party since 1938.

    Party affiliation: Communist Party


    There is no conclusive logical argument for the existence of God. His existence is continuously debated.


    Marxism–Leninism as the only truth could not, by its very nature, become outdated.


    A member of the Women's Anti-Fascist Committee and the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC) since the breaking out of World War II, Stern was the sole survivor out of 15 arrested and convicted to death sentence when the JAC was eradicated in January 1949.
    • the Women's Anti-Fascist Committee , Soviet Union

    • the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC) , Soviet Union


    Stern was described as “a lover of science and art, a tireless research worker, a highly gifted and cultivated woman of letters, a brilliant investigator, and a vivid lecturer.”



    Lina Stern
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    Born August 26, 1878
    Died March 7, 1968
    (aged 89)
    • 1903
      The University of Geneva
      Geneva, Switzerland
    • 1904 - 1906
      Assistant, Professor Provost’s Physiological Laboratory
      Soviet Union
    • 1906 - 1917
      Lecturer, The Geneva University
      Geneva, Switzerland
    • 1917 - 1925
      Professor of Physiological Chemistry, Geneva University
      Geneva, Switzerland
    • 1925 - 1949
      Professor, Chair of Physiology, 2nd Moscow Medicine Institute
      Moscow, Soviet Union
    • 1925 - 1949
      Head of Biological Laboratory, The Moscow Medicine Biological Institute and Mechnikov Institute of Infectious Diseases
      Moscow, Soviet Union
    • 1929 - 1949
      Director, Insitute of Physiology, USSR Popular Commissariat of Education
      Soviet Union