Medical Definition of Lysenkoism

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

Lysenkoism: A theory put forth by a Russian plant-breeder named Trofim Denisovich Lysenko [1898-1976] during the Lenin/Stalin years that served to stifle the progress of genetics in the Soviet Union.

Lysenko rejected Mendelian genetics in favor of the doctrine of acquired characteristics, a form of Lamarckism. (According to the earlier doctrine of Lamarck, evolution occurs because organisms can inherit traits acquired by their ancestors. Giraffes can only survive by eating leaves high up on trees so they stretch their necks to reach the leaves and this stretching of the neck is passed on to later generations.)

Lysenko was president (1938-56, 1961-62) of the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Science and directed (1940-65) the Institute of Genetics of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. His ideas were accepted as gospel until after the death of Joseph Stalin. They are now rejected.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018