Obituaries

Oleg Georgievich Gazenko

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39489.514282.BE (Published 14 February 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:394

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  1. Alexandr Grigoriev,
  2. Mikhail Ugryumov,
  3. Boleslav Lichterman

    Doyen of space medicine

    Lieutenant General Oleg Georgievich Gazenko was a director of the Institute for Medico-Biological Problems dealing with research in air and space physiology, with special reference to the biological effects of gravitation. His studies justified the feasibility of human flight into space and the security of cosmonauts’ health.

    He was born in the village of Nikolaevka in the Stavropol region of southern Russia into a humble family. In 1941 he graduated from the military faculty of the Second Moscow Medical Institute (now the Russian State Medical University) as a military doctor of the third rank (captain of medical service). All graduates were sent to the frontline. During the war with Germany (1941-5) he was the head of the military infirmary of the 197th battalion of aerodrome service of the 15th air army on the western, south western, Bryansk, Baltic, and Byelorussian fronts. He was decorated with military orders and medals.

    After the war Gazenko specialised in aviation medicine at the chair of physiology of the Kirov Military Medical Academy in Leningrad. He studied problems of high altitude physiology and the effects of hypoxia on higher nervous activity under the guidance of academician Colonel General L Orbeli and Professor Major General M Brestkin. In 1947 Gazenko was appointed to the Institute for Aviation Medicine of the Ministry of Defence of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), where he made a successful career from researcher to deputy head of the institute responsible for research.

    He was involved in studies of pilots in unfavourable climates—beyond the Arctic Circle and in deserts. As a flag physician and head of a medical research group, Gazenko participated in air force expeditions to …

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