Intended for healthcare professionals


Mark Borisovich Mirsky

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 25 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4577
  1. Boleslav Lichterman

    Historian of Russian surgery who challenged Soviet ideology

    Professor Mark Mirsky was an internationally known historian of Russian medicine, surgery, and health care; a prolific writer and medical journalist; and head of the Moscow Scientific Society of Medical Historians.

    Journalistic activity had a strong impact on Mirsky’s scientific career. In a way he was the Russian counterpart of the late Roy Porter, a famous English medical historian (BMJ 2002;324:680, doi:10.1136/bmj.324.7338.680). Both were prolific journalists, and both suddenly died in traffic crashes. Nowadays most professional medical historians work in a narrow temporal and thematic framework. Mirsky was remarkable for his wide scientific interests. His many papers and monographs were dedicated to different periods of Russian medicine; Soviet health care; biographies of famous physicians and surgeons and Soviet ministers of health.

    October revolution

    After the collapse of Soviet regime in 1991 he started to research previously forbidden topics, such as Russian medical emigrants after the October revolution of 1917, Stalinist repression of doctors, and the impact of foreign physicians on Russian medicine and health care. For example, he wrote about Robert Erskine (1677-1719) of Scotland, who …

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