Viktor Zhdanov

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Viktor Zhdanov

Viktor Mikhailovich Zhdanov (Russian: Виктор Михайлович Ждaнов) (13 February 1914 – 1987) was a Soviet virologist. He was instrumental in the effort to eradicate smallpox globally.

Zhdanov was born in the village of Shtepino (in present-day Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine).[1] After Zhdanov graduated from Kharkiv Medical Institute in 1936, he spent the next decade working as an army doctor, where he became interested in epidemiology; this work would directly lead to his doctoral thesis on Hepatitis A.[2] In 1946, Zhdanov was invited to become Chief of the Epidemiology Department of the I. I. Mechnikoff Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Kharkiv, becoming its director two years later. His work in virus classification saw him admitted to the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses as a life member.[2]

In 1958, Zhdanov, as Deputy Minister of Health for the Soviet Union, called on the World Health Assembly to undertake a global initiative to eradicate smallpox. The proposal (Resolution WHA11.54) was accepted in 1959.[3] Zhdanov left the Ministry of Health in 1961, and focused on scientific research for the rest of his career. This work included studying influenza, hepatitis, and in the 1980s, HIV.

In addition to his accomplishments in the field of public health, Zhdanov chaired the Soviet Union's Interagency Science and Technology Council on Molecular Biology and Genetics, which among its many functions directed the Soviet biological weapons program.[4]

Despite Zhdanov's relative obscurity, some have argued that Zhdanov has done "more good for humanity" than any other human in history.[5][6]


  1. ^ Viktor Zhandov The Free Dictionary by Farlex, with the caveat that "Warning! The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased."
  2. ^ a b In memory of Victor Zhdanov Archives of Virology 1991, Volume 121, Issue 1-4, pp 237-240
  3. ^ Fenner, Frank (1988). "Development of the Global Smallpox Eradication Programme" (PDF). Smallpox and Its Eradication (History of International Public Health, No. 6). Geneva: World Health Organization. pp. 366–418. ISBN 92-4-156110-6.
  4. ^ Orent, Wendy (2004). Plague: The Mysterious Past and Future of the World's Most Dangerous Disease. Free Press. pp. 9-11
  5. ^ Macaskill, William. "The best person who ever lived". BoingBoing. 30 July 2015. Retrieved on 13 June 2016.
  6. ^ Irlam, Gordon. "In praise of Viktor Zhdanov". 80,000 Hours. 23 February 2012. Retrieved on 20 June 2016.

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