Ivan Pavlov Biography

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. This biography of Ivan Pavlov provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: September 26, 1849

Nationality: Russian

Famous: Atheists Russian Men

Died At Age: 86

Sun Sign: Libra

Born in: Ryazan, Russia


Spouse/Ex-: Seraphima Vasilievna Karchevskaya (m. 1881)

father: Peter Dmitrievich Pavlov

mother: Varvara Ivanovna Uspenskaya

children: Mirchik Pavlov, Vera Pavlov, Vsevolod Pavlov VladimirPavlov

Died on: February 27, 1936

place of death: Leningrad, Saint Petersburg, Soviet Union

discoveries/inventions: Discovered 'nervism' And 'physiology Of Digestion'

More Facts

education: Ryazan Church School, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg State University

awards: 1904 - Nobel laureate for his work on the physiology of digestion

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Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist famous for his experiments on the digestive system of dogs which led him to discover conditional reflexes that originate in the cerebral cortex of the brain. His research on the physiology of digestion led to the development of the experimental model of learning, popularly known as Classical Conditioning. His studies primarily revolved around the influence of stimuli on inducing salivation in dogs even before food was provided to them. Born into a large family, he grew up in poverty. But the hardships of his childhood could not squelch the inherent curiosity of the boy. A brilliant child he displayed a natural instinct for research. The son of a village priest, his first professional choice was to pursue a career in theology. However, he abandoned this idea and decided to devote his life to science after reading ‘The Origin of Species’ by Charles Darwin. His decision to enter the world of scientific research was also influenced by the progressive ideas of the literary critic D.I.Pisarev and I. M. Sechenov, the father of Russian physiology. Eventually, Pavlov’s scientific work earned him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1904. He also mentored several brilliant students who helped carry forward his legacy of scientific research even after he left the world.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • He became a laboratory assistant to Professor Ustimovich at the physiological department of the Veterinary Institute in 1876 and held this position till 1878.
  • He completed the course he was studying at the Academy of Medical Surgery in 1879 and was awarded a gold medal.
  • He won a fellowship to pursue postgraduate work at the Medical Military Academy in 1880. He discovered the dynamic nerves of the heart and presented his doctor’s thesis on ‘The Centrifugal nerves of the heart’ and gave the concept of nervism.
  • He became a lecturer in physiology at the Military Medical Academy in 1884 and went to Germany for a period of two years to study with Carl Ludwig in the Heidenhain laboratories where he began to study the digestive system of dogs.
  • He was made the Professor of Pharmacology at the Military Medical Academy in 1890 and was appointed as the head of the physiology department in 1895. He held this position till 1925.
  • In 1891, he joined the Institute of Experimental Medicine where he helped to organize and direct the Department of Physiology for a period of 45 years. Under his guidance, it became one of the most important centers of physiological research.
  • During this time, he conducted several experiments on the physiology of digestion. He developed an experimental method for observing the functions of various organs under relatively normal conditions. This discovery ushered in a new era in experimental physiology.
  • Through his experiments on dogs the showed that it was primarily the nervous system which regulated the digestive processes. He published his findings under the title ‘Lectures on the functions of the principal digestive glands’ in 1897.
  • He was made a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1901. Starting from 1901, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize four times before finally being awarded it in 1904.
  • After serving as a professor in the Military Medical Academy for several years, he resigned in 1924. He continued contributing towards scientific research by mentoring bright pupils in the field of physiology till his death.
Major Works
  • His biggest contribution towards science is his research on the physiology of digestive system which led to the creation of the Classical Conditioning model of experimentation. He contributed immensely to the field of neurological sciences by discovering conditioning and involuntary reflex actions.
Awards & Achievements
  • He was awarded The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1904 "in recognition of his work on the physiology of digestion, through which knowledge on vital aspects of the subject has been transformed and enlarged".
  • He was awarded the Order of the legion of Honour by the Medical Academy of Paris in 1915.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • He had a difficult personal life in spite of all his professional successes. He married Seraphima Vasilievna in 1881. The couple suffered from financial problems during the early years of their marriage and also had to bear the loss of a child. They eventually had four surviving children.
  • Pavlov died of double pneumonia in 1936 at the age of 86.

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How To Cite

Article Title
- Ivan Pavlov Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com
Last Updated
- September 28, 2017
Ivan Pavlov

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