Professor Yuri V. Dudnik, Director of Gause Institute of New Antibiotics of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, passed away on October 21, 2003 after a short but hard struggle with cancer.
Dudnik was born in 1938 in Moscow into a family of intelligentsia. After graduating from the high school in 1956 he entered Moscow State University and in 1962 graduated from the Biological Faculty of the university with master's degree in biology. Immediately thereafter he began his research as a postgraduate student at the Institute of New Antibiotics of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences under the guidance of Professor Georgy F. Gause. He worked at the Institute until his death.
His postgraduate studies were concentrated on the development of models for the screening of potential antitumour compounds. He has developed cultures of Micrococcus lysodeikticus carrying a temperate phage as a model for the search of agents which damaged DNA and induced lytic phage development.
After defending dissertation in for the degree of Candidate of Sciences in 1966 he continued his research, concentrating on action mechanisms of antibiotics and development of screening tests. In 1981 he defended dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Sciences. He expanded his research into the areas of cellular engineering of antibiotic-producing Actinomycetes and activation of silent genes in pathways involved in antibiotic biosynthesis. His scientific interests were developing in close interaction with those of Professor G. F. Gause, who considered him as a most original and thoughtful researcher and a future leader.
After the death of Professor G. F. Gause in 1986, Dudnik was nominated the Acting Director of the Institute and then elected to the position of the Director of the Institute of New Antibiotics in 1988. His scientific interests during this period were concentrated around the issue of induction of silent genes in antibiotic biosynthesis and endogenous regulators of differentiation in microorganisms. Alongside with research he was spending much time for administration. Being Director of the Institute during a very difficult period of 1990s, he has shown wisdom and prudence in his leadership; his balanced judgement and shrewdness helped the Institute to retain its scientific potential.
Dudnik was a man of diverse interests. Of course the love of science and scientific research was the passion of his life. But remaining predominanly a laboratory scientist, he maintained vivid interest to field biology. He knew and loved woods and marshes, and extended visits to such places provided a foundation and a stimulus for his creativity. During the last few years of life his attention was directed to higher fungi as a promising source of biologically active compounds. He had excellent knowledge of poetry, both Russian and English, and those who knew him more closely, appreciated his excellent taste in classical symphony music and classical jazz. His favourite hobbies included hiking in wilderness and color photography of almost black-and-white winter landscapes with only hardly discernible shades of colour.
Throughout his scientific career Dudnik pursued the highest academic ideals of scientific rigour and he was not influenced, by political, managerial or commercial considerations. Simplicity and honesty were his hallmarks, and he was a man of great integrity. He often spoke about dangers of time-serving compromises and insisted on the use of highest moral and scientific criteria for judging his own work and the work of others.
Many younger scientists may call him teacher.
He actively supported international scientific cooperation and scientific contacts. He served on editorial boards of several journals, including "The Journal of Antibiotics" and "Antibiotiki I Khimiotherapia". In 1994 he was elected a Corresponding member of Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. He served as the Chairman of Interdisciplinary Council on Antibiotics in Russia, was a member of International Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, and a member of American Society of Microbiology.
His knowledge in biology, and not just in biology, was truly encyclopedic and he could always be relied upon for advice and constructive discussion. An outgoing and modest person, he created an atmosphere of warm human relations so critical for successful work.
He is survived by his wife Lyudmila, a biologist, son Nickolay, daughter Lyuba, who is also a biologist, and three granddaughters. All those who were fortunate to know this extremely intelligent and very warm man will miss him greatly.