McGill LibraryMcLennan Library Building
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Boris Petrovich Babkin Fonds
88 cm of textual records
Boris Petrovich Babkin, Professor of Physiology at McGill University from 1928 to 1942, was a prominent figure in the field of physiological research, especially in the area of glandular secretion and the nervous system. Dr. Babkin was a pupil, assistant and life-long friend of Ivan F. Pavlov, of whom he wrote a biography in 1949. Dr. Babkin was born in Kursk, Russia in 1877. In 1901, he began post-graduate study in the History of Medicine at the Military-Medical Academy in St. Petersburg. Babkin had decided that clinical medicine as such held no interest for him, although the science of medicine itself had great attraction. For this reason, 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 avowed interest in medical history, which he considered purely academic, with rather vehement contempt, he nevertheless agreed to let the young Babkin join his laboratory. Babkin was thus initiated into the methods of physiological research in which his interest grew to such an extent that its study, with the time and discipline required, superseded his progress not only in the clinical aspects of medicine, but in medical history itself.
By 1902, Babkin had decided to become a physiologist. He received his M.D. from the Military-Medical Academy in 1904. He worked as an assistant in Pavlov’s laboratory until 1912, and remained a close friend throughout his life. The influence of this period was undoubtedly very great, and is clearly reflected in the research interests pursued by Babkin for the rest of his life.
In 1912, Babkin was appointed to the Chair of Animal Physiology at the Agricultural Institute of Novo Alexandria. In 1915, he went to the University of Odessa as Professor of Physiology. However, in 1922. Babkin 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 Starling. After emigrating to America, Babkin received an appointment as Professor of Physiology at Dalhousie University, Halifax, a position which he held until 1928 when he came to McGill. This inaugurated an active period of research and publishing, particularly on glandular secretions and the nervous system. 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, Dr. Babkin was awarded the Julius Friedenwald Medal for 1949 by the American Gastroenterological Association. Throughout his life, Dr. Babkin continued his experimental work and produced many scientific articles.
These papers almost exclusively consist of records of his research and publications. His publications files contain drafts of various scientific papers, largely on secretions, correspondence regarding the reception of Die Aussere Sekretion der Verdauungsdrusen (1928) and negotiations surronding the publication of the Pavlov biography, and a biographical file containing a curriculum vitae, bibliography, and correspondence concerning appointments, honorary degrees, (1923-1948). Research materials comprise six volumes of reports on laboratory experiments and a file of daily laboratory reports (1923-1943). Babkin's professional correspondence with scholars and scientific associations covers the years 1928 to 1943. Most of the letters, incoming and drafts of outoing, concern research problems, consultation on draft articles by colleagues, and Babkin's own publications. There are also negotiations for speaking engagements, and a scattering of items on Babkin's social involvements, e.g. relief for Russian refugees, and letters from students.
Originals and printed materials