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To the 120th birthday anniversary of Academician R.E. Kavetsky
Summary. On December 1, 2019, the academic community commemorated the 120th birthday anniversary of Academician Rostislav Evgenievich Kavetsky, the famous oncologist and pathophysiologist, the founder of the Ukrainian school of experimental oncology, the organizer and the first director of the Institute that now bears his name.
R. Kavetsky was born in Samara in 1899. Following the lead of his father, R. Kavetsky chose the medicine as his vocation that became his deal of a lifetime. R. Kavetsky graduated from medical department of Samara University, and in 1925 started his studies as a postgraduate at the Department of Pathological Physiology of the Second Moscow State University under the supervision of the famous pathophysiologist O. Bogomolets. At the turn of 1930s, Academician O. Bogomolets, who was then elected the President of the Academy of Science of Ukrainian SSR, moved to Kyiv with his disciples. Since that time, the whole life and scientific activity of R. Kavetsky was devoted to Ukraine. From the very beginning, the scientific interests of R. Kavetsky were concentrated on one of the urgent problems of the medicine — the insight into the mechanisms of cancer origin and the role of the host defense systems in preventing malignant transformation, the problem to which R. Kavetsky devoted his whole life.
In 1933, R. Kavetsky got his PhD degree, and in 1937, defended his doctorate thesis. Two years later, R. Kavetsky was conferred the academic title of professor. As early as in 1937, in his monograph “The Role of Active Mesenchyma in Host Disposition to Malignant Tumors”, R. Kavetsky suggested that the growth of tumor requires the general changes in the body referred to as “cancer predisposition” allowing for the primary cancer node being transformed into the genuine tumor. Inspired by the ideas of O. Bogomolets, R. Kavetsky adhered firmly to the opinion that tumor should be regarded not as the local process but rather as the neoplastic disease involving the whole organism.
The Second World War intercepted the scientific projects of the scientist. In 1942, R. Kavetsky joined the army as a volunteer having served as a medical professional in evacuation stations. In 1944, R. Kavetsky went back to his scientific work. In 1946 after the death of O. Bogomolets, R. Kavetsky headed the staff of the Institute of Clinical Physiology. In 1945, R. Kavetsky was elected the Corresponding Member and in 1951 — Full Member of the Academy of Sciences of Ukrainian SSR. In 1952, he became the member of Presidium of the Academy of Sciences and the Head of the Bureau of the Division of Biological Sciences. In 1960, on the initiative of R. Kavetsky, the Ukrainian Research Institute of Experimental and Clinical Oncology of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine was set up in Kyiv (currently, R.E. Kavetsky Institute of Experimental Pathology, Oncology and Radiobiology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine).
In 1950–1960s, some seminal reviews integrating the concept of bidirectional and mutually interconnected tumor-host relationship appeared. Among them, the monograph “Tumor and Host” (1961) was one of the first devoted to the issue as well as one of the most comprehensive treatise, wherein R. Kavetsky outlined the concept of tumor-host interactions mediated by metabolic processes and via immunological, endocrine and nervous systems. The priority of R. Kavetsky in studying nervous influences on the neoplastic growth was widely recognized. The monograph has won the wide international recognition, and in 1964, R. Kavetsky was awarded O. Bogomolets Prize for that tremendous work.
The fundamental ideas put forward by R.E. Kavetsky and his disciples provided novel insight into the problems of cancer taking into account the pathophysiological patterns of tumor growth. Such concept is of great importance for the approaches to the prevention and treatment of cancer forming the basis for integrating the opportunities provided by different treatment modalities at the different stages of malignant disease elaborating the systemic approach for affecting not only tumor but also different physiologic systems of the host in an attempt to restore the disordered homeostasis.
R. Kavetsky became the leading ideologist of the research in the field of experimental oncology in Ukraine. And in 1970s, R. Kavetsky with his disciples started to elaborate the concept of anticancerogenesis. In keeping with this concept, R. Kavetsky dreamed of the essentially new principles of cancer prevention and treatment.
On the initiative of R. Kavetsky and with his direct involvement, the international scientific journal “Experimental Oncology” was set up in 1979. Throughout its 40-year history, “Experimental Oncology” remains the leader in spotlighting the advanced ideas and developments in cancer research.
R. Kavetsky left a profound scientific heritage. He is the author of more than 600 scientific publications and 17 monographs devoted to different aspects of theoretical and experimental oncology. His disciples and followers became the well-known scientists who continue to develop the fundamental problems of oncology.
R. Kavetsky died in 1978. In 1979, his name was given to the Institute that is called now as R.E. Kavetsky Institute of Experimental Pathology, Oncology and Radiobiology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. In 1981 R. Kavetsky (posthumously) and group of his colleagues were awarded the State Prize of Ukraine in the field of science and technique for studies on the mechanisms of cell transformation and formation of anticancer resistance. In 2000, R. Kavetsky prize in experimental oncology was founded by the decision of the Presidium of the NAS of Ukraine.
In 2010, the International Conference “Tumor and Host: Novel Aspects of Old Problem” dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Institute was held in Kyiv. This year, the Second International Conference “Tumor and Host” was organized to commemorate the 120th birthday anniversary of Academician R. Kavetsky. These international forums confirmed that the tumor-host concept enriched with novel experimental and clinical data provides the underlying paradigm as the basis for extending our knowledge of tumor biology.
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