Sergey Petrovich Botkin, the History of the Formation of the Founder of Russian Medicine

  • Authors: Popova I.1, Chertok E.D.1
  • Affiliations:
    1. Voronezh State Medical University named after N.N. Burdenko
  • Pages: 161-162
  • URL:

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Sergey Petrovich Botkin was an outstanding therapist and pathophysiologist, teacher and public figure, thanks to which he was able to bring new trends and ideas to the development of domestic medicine.
Purpose: Preservation and development of the traditions of Russian medicine in the XIX century, the problems of its formation on the example of the activities of Sergei Petrovich Botkin.
Methods: The analysis of Russian literary sources on the research topic is carried out.
Results: Sergey Petrovich Botkin is a Russian therapist, a public figure who created the doctrine of the body as a whole. He identified three criteria that are fundamental in the work of a general practitioner - to set up the patient to defeat the disease, to restore not the affected organ, but the body completely, to create an environment conducive to recovery; made medical education available to women in Russia. Sergey Petrovich was one of the first doctors to widely use laboratory tests (biochemical, microbiological); introduced body temperature measurement with a thermometer, auscultation, percussion, examination of the patient. Botkin also advocated the introduction of ambulances in the Russian Empire. In addition, he was the leader of the epidemiological society that fought against the spread of hepatitis A. He was the one who identified and described this disease, therefore hepatitis is also called Botkin's disease.
Conclusion: Outstanding activity and scientific achievements of Sergey Petrovich Botkin served as a significant foundation for the further development of domestic medicine in the XIX century, as well as the development of outpatient care to the population. The doctrine of pathogenesis proposed by him served as an impetus for changing the principles of treatment and the concept of the pathological process developing in the patient's body.

Full Text

The future doctor was born in September 1832 in the family of a metropolitan shopkeeper. At the age of 15 he was enrolled in the private family home of L. Eness, where he received his primary education. Botkin wanted to connect his life with mathematics, but on the eve of his admission to the university, Nicholas I limited the possibility of obtaining higher education for non-noble offspring. Merchant sons could enter only the medical faculty, where Sergey entered. In 1855, Botkin received a higher education, he was not enthusiastic about the teaching system at the university, in his opinion, future doctors were not taught to think about the symptoms of the disease, the causes of their occurrence and the mechanisms of development. After receiving education, Botkin went to the front of the Crimean War, where he became a resident in the Simferopol hospital. Even then, the young doctor noted in his diary the idea that the specifics of the disease of soldiers at the front depend on the degree of their cleanliness and surrounding life, later this idea served to develop the doctrine of pathogenesis. In order to fully appreciate Botkin's contribution to the formation of Russian medicine, it is necessary to recall in what a depressing position Russian doctors were during his activity. Teaching in the Russian Empire was conducted on the basis of outdated lectures and clinical observations, future doctors were afraid to go beyond the material proposed by him. Accordingly, after graduation from the educational institution, they could not provide qualified assistance to their patients and explain the nature of the diseases that arose. The bulk of medicine was in the hands of medical practitioners, most of whom were Germans. Often there were misunderstandings between doctors and their patients, due to the fact that they could not explain themselves to their wards due to the language barrier. There was an opinion in society that only a doctor of foreign origin could treat well. Having become a professor at the medical department in St. Petersburg, S.P. Botkin began to transform. He was the first in Russia to open in 1860-1861 in his medical clinic an experimental laboratory in which he conducted analyzes and investigated the pharmacological effect of medicinal substances on pathological processes in the human body. Studying questions of physiology and pathophysiology, he reproduced these processes in animals in order to reveal their regularity. The research conducted in the laboratory became the basis of experimental pharmacology, therapy and pathology in domestic medicine. This laboratory became the foundation of a research medical institution, which was later created - the Institute of Experimental Medicine. At the heart of his scientific views, Sergey Petrovich proceeded from the understanding of the organism as a single whole, interconnected with its environment. Thanks to this interaction, the body lives and retains independence in relation to this environment, developing new properties, which, being fixed, are inherited. He connected the origin of the disease with the cause, which is determined exclusively by the external environment. The main idea of Botkin is the doctrine of the mechanisms of development of the pathological process in the body (the doctrine of pathogenesis). Sergey Petrovich proceeded from the teachings of I.M. Sechenov about the anatomical and physiological foundations of human activity, namely reflexes. Developing it, he suggested that pathological processes develop along reflex nerve pathways. Botkin paid great attention to the study of various centers of the brain. He discovered the center of sweating, the center of reflex effects on the spleen. Based on the doctrine of pathogenesis, he began to build a new approach to treatment (exposure through nerve centers). The activity of Sergey Petrovich Botkin was very multifaceted. As a publicist, he is the author of the "Archive of the Clinic of Internal Diseases of Professor Botkin" (1869-1889) and the "Weekly Clinical Newspaper" (1881-1889), later renamed the "Botkin Hospital Newspaper". Botkin was the first to receive the title of Russian life medic, officially became a doctor at the imperial court, previously only foreigners held this position. Sergei Petrovich influenced the popularization of recreation in the Crimea, sending empress Maria Alexandrovna, who was ill with tuberculosis, to the peninsula. After that, treatment and rehabilitation in the Crimea became popular, the intelligentsia was drawn to the warm lands. He was the first doctor elected to the Duma, held the post of deputy chairman of the Public Health Commission. In 1886, he was elected chairman of the Commission for the Improvement of Sanitary Conditions and the Reduction of Mortality in Russia. He tried to reform the entire health care system, but there were not enough resources for this at that time. Sergey Petrovich died suddenly at the age of 57 from coronary heart disease


About the authors

Irina Popova

Voronezh State Medical University named after N.N. Burdenko

ORCID iD: 0009-0007-6685-3320

Ординатор кафедры факультетской и паллиативной педиатрии

Russian Federation, 394036, Voronezh region, Voronezh, Studencheskaya street,10

Elena Dmitrievna Chertok

Voronezh State Medical University named after N.N. Burdenko

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8398-6033
SPIN-code: 2771-6506

к.м.н., доцент кафедры факультетской и паллиативной педиатрии

Russian Federation, 394036, Voronezh gerion, Voronezh, Studencheskaya street, 10


  1. Белоголовый, Н.А. С. П. Боткин, его жизнь и врачебная деятельность. / Н.А.Белоголовый. – СПб., 1892. – 84 с.
  2. Антонов, В.Б. С.П.Боткин и Военно-медицинская академия / В.Б. Антонов, А.С.Георгиевский – Москва, 1982. – 125 с.

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