Nikolai N. Anitschkow (1956-2016)

, Professor of the Department of Pathological Physiology of the Military Medical Academy St. Petersburg, Russia

In 1913, experimental pathologist Dr. Nikolai N. Anitschkow showed that simply feeding to rabbits purified cholesterol dissolved in sunflower oil induced vascular lesions closely resembling those of human atherosclerosis, both grossly and microscopically. Controls fed with only the sunflower oil showed no lesions. It is fair to say that this paper marked the beginning of the modern era of atherosclerosis research.

However, the landmark studies by Dr. Anitschkow were largely rejected at the time. An important reason for this was that the findings were inconsistent with the prevailing view of atherosclerosis. It was generally accepted to be an inevitable accompaniment of aging (the “senescence hypothesis”). If the full significance of his findings had been appreciated at the time, we might have saved more than 30 years in the long struggle to settle the cholesterol controversy.

In honour of Dr. Nikolai N. Anitschkow, the “Anitschkow Prize in Atherosclerosis Research” awarded annually by the EAS recognizes outstanding research in the field of atherosclerosis and linked metabolic disturbances.