Министерство науки и высшего образования Российской Федерации
Российская Академия Наук

Historic Highlights

Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry (ZIOC) was established by Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences on February 23 1934. The list of its Directors opens up with the name of Full Academy Member, Professor A.E. Favorsky (1934-39) succeeded by Full Academy Members, Professors A.N. Nesmeyanov (1939-54), B.A. Kazansky (1954-66), N.K. Kochetkov (1966-88), and V A. Tartakovsky (1988-2002).At present, the Institute is headed by RAS Full Member, Professor Mikhail P Egorov.

Since its very start the Institute has been gathering cream of Russian chemical community, including Professors A.E. Favorsky, N.D. Zelinsky, A.A. Balandin, I.N. Nazarov, I.L. Knunyants, V.V. Korshak, L.F. Vereshchagin, M.I. Kabachnik and many other outstanding scholars. Various globally acknowledged scientific schools and areas have been developing within the Institute, Profs. V.N. Ipatiev and A.E. Chichibabin's among them.

Nikolay D. Zelinsky headed one of the Institute's departments in 1936-53 and made a great contribution to the Institute advancement. He worked in various areas of organic chemistry, including theory and practice of the organic catalysis, hydrocarbon chemistry and oil refining. His studies in adsorption led to the creation of a carbon gas-mask that saved thousands of people in World War I. His inventions and scientific heritage brought fame to this country and Institute of Organic Chemistry. In 1953, the Institute received its present name – N.D. Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry.

Below is given brief data on the scope of scientific interests and achievements of Institute’s Directors that may greatly add to the understanding of ZIOC background and activities.

A. E. Favorsky     A. N. Nesmeyanov       B.A. Kazansky     N. K. Kochetkov    V. A. Tartakovsky      M.P. Egorov

Alexey E. Favorsky — a globally recognized organic chemist, the author of classical papers on molecular rearrangements and chemistry of unsaturated compounds (isomerization of monoalkylacetylenes to dialkylacetylenes, addition of alcohols to acetylene to prepare vinyl ethers, preparation of unsaturated alcohols through reactions of acetylene with aldehydes and ketones, etc.). Acetylene-based syntheses designed by him and his disciples have found extensive applications in industry. (Director – 1934-39).

Aleksandr N. Nesmeyanov was the founder of two new chemistry domains in Russia, i.e. organoelement chemistry that integrates organic and inorganic areas, and synthetic foodstuff. World-famous are his researches in the field of tautometry and dual reactivity of metalorganic compounds. The design of valuable drugs, synthesis of a novel antidetonator and preparation of new practicable materials rank first among the most outstanding practical developments of A.N. Nesmeyanov and his successors. (Director – 1939-54, Rector of Lomonosov Moscow State University, President of USSR Academy of Sciences – 1951-61).

Boris A. Kazansky – the author of classical studies in diverse aspects of petrochemistry and the heterogeneous organic catalysis. He and his coworkers discovered catalytic transformations of paraffins to cyclic (aromatic inclusive) hydrocarbons as well as other catalytic transformations. His research also focused on the synthesis of new high-purity hydrocarbons and the composition of oil of various origin and straight-run gasoline. (Director — 1954-66).

Nikolay K. Kochetkov had established the Russian scientific school of carbohydrates and nucleotides that gained international recognition. On the grounds of original methods of the glycosidic linkage formation, he and his team developed new alternatives for the synthesis of bioactive oligosaccharides, were the first to synthesize complex antigenic polysaccharides and proposed original synthetic ways to novel pharmaceuticals. Also, much attention has been paid to the identification of structures of complex carbohydrate-containing compounds, including microbial polysaccharides, glycoproteins, glycolipids, and natural glycosides. These, along with the use of advanced physicochemical methods of analysis and theoretical calculations, led to the pioneer method of the polysaccharide structure elucidation.(Director – 1966-88).

Vladimir A. Tartakovsky is a prominent scientist in basic research of nitro and heterocyclic compounds both with theoretical and practical implications. His research is also related to industrial organic synthesis. He discovered the reaction of 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition of nitronic acid alkyl ethers to compounds with multiple bonds, which allowed basically new methods for the synthesis of N,O-heterocycles and a discovery of unknown types of electrophilic rearrangements and the phenomenon of elementotropy in this sequence. He and his team designed rational methods for the synthesis of universal ingredients for multi-purpose composite materials, developed an automatic system for designing structures with a pre-given set of properties and proposed an original approach for predicting new types of N,O-heterocyclic systems. These led to new environment-friendly and ozone depleting agent-free ingredients of propellants successfully applied in aerospace technology. (Director – 1988-2002).

Mikhail P. Egorov (Director since 2003) is a world-wide recognized expert in physical organic and organometallic chemistry. He is the author of more than 300 publications. He has greatly contributed to the chemistry of carbene analogs (silylenes, germylenes, stannylenes) and other short-lived species containing atoms of Group 14 elements in low-coordinated states (element-centered radicals, ions, ion-radicals). The electron transfer in reactions of four- and two-coordinated silicon, germanium, and tin is of particular interest for Prof. Egorov’s research team. They were the first to attain direct experimental evidence (ESR, electrochemistry) of the existence of radical ions of germylenes, stannylenes and their complexes with Lewis bases in solutions. Another focus of Prof. Egorov’s research is small-sized strained heterocycles. In particular, the first germacyclopropene (germerine) was isolated and its molecular and crystal structures were determined.

Academy of Sciences established special awards named after N.D. Zelinsky and A.A. Balandin for outstanding advances in organic chemistry, petrochemistry, and organic catalysis.

Despite that the Institute’s focus is basic research, a lot of ZIOC developments have found applications in industrial organic synthesis, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, agricultural sectors, etc.

During World War II, the Institute was evacuated to Kazan and never stopped active research. Its input to the country’s defense potential was greatly appreciated. Of special note are developments in the avgas quality improvement, preparation of pharmaceuticals for military hospitals and especially invention of the carbinol adhesive (Nazarov glue) for field repair of tanks.

In 1954, the Institute split up and gave start to Institute of Organoelement Compounds and Institute of High Pressure Physics, and to Institute of Chemistry of Natural Compounds (currently Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry) in 1959. At the same time Institute's traditional research areas enhanced and matured. A few other research centers were also founded with support of ZIOC scientists. Among these are Irkutsk Institute of Organic Chemistry, Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of Belarus, Institute of Organic Chemistry of Tadzhikistan, and Institute of Organic Chemistry of Turkmenistan.

Mathematical chemistry and computer synthesis have been progressing in ZIOC since the 80-s. Advanced information technologies are extensively employed to assist chemical research.

Starting from the 90-s, ZIOC has been involved in foremost international projects and pivotal science and technology initiatives supported by the RF Government such as Federal Target Programs R&D in Priority Areas and Integration of Science and University Education, RAS basic research programs, and Moscow municipal science and technology programs.