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Our history

  • On March 15 1927, Nikolay N. Petrov, who is hailed as the father of oncology in Russia, founded and opened the Research Institute of Oncology, which was merged into the I.I. Mechnikov General Hospital in Leningrad. At that time, the clinical facilities of the Institute delivered inpatient care through 100 beds.
  • In 1927-1928, the clinical facilities were split into a men’s ward, a women’s ward and a gynecology department. At the same time, the Institute stared opening its laboratories. The first were the anatomical and clinical pathology laboratory and the tumor strain laboratory, followed by the cytological laboratory.
  • In 1929-1930, the clinical biochemistry laboratory was opened. The Institute started using radiation therapy as a treatment for tumors. The radiology department installed a new universal direct-current/alternating-current rotary converter ‘Radio-Transverter’ apparatus, a cutting edge technology for that time.
  • In 1931, the recordkeeping service was established to collect and analyze the information on how the cancer survivors navigated life after treatment at the Institute. The oncology service which served the city and the territory around it was established. The Department of Oncology of I.I. Mechnikov General Hospital launched a training program for physicians.
  • In 1933, the department of social pathogenesis and prevention of tumors was established. It was later reorganized as the organizational and methodological department whose main responsibilities were to oversee and manage the cancer services in Leningrad, as well as to run activities designed to fight cancer, such as publishing guidelines for general practitioners and launching community health initiatives. An urban cancer network which included 10 cancer clinics was established.
  • In 1934, a new 50-bed prophylactic department was opened at the Institute to study premalignant conditions and develop ways of their treatment.
  • In 1935, the People’s Commissariat for Health of the RSFSR took over the Institute, thus replacing the Public Health Department of Leningrad as its governing authority.
  • Between 1936 and 1937, a network of cancer treatment clinics was established in 13 cities across Leningrad Oblast to provide cancer treatment services to the local population. Some of these cancer treatment clinics still operate today. The Institute became the largest cancer hospital in the USSR, consisting of 4 departments (men’s ward, women’s ward, gynecology department and prophylactic department) and having 200 beds with 10 extra beds.
  • By World War II, the Institute reported exceptional clinical and experimental facilities, 200 beds and numerous laboratories, among which were the cytological laboratory, the clinical biochemistry laboratory, the tumor strain laboratory, the anatomical and clinical pathology laboratory, as well as the social oncology department. Much attention was also paid to the development of the radiation therapy methods for treatment of tumors. During the war, the Institute established a military ward to treat service personnel injured in combat operations.
  • In 1944, several buildings, initially belonging to the Agricultural College and located on the Kamenny Island in Leningrad, were added to the Institute, a decision made by the city council to accommodate the expanding basic research capabilities of the Institute which had earlier been made part of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences.
  • In 1946, the organizational and methodological department of the Institute commenced its preventive routine checkup program for the population of Leningrad. In 1948, using the reports prepared by the Institute, the Ministry of Health of the USSR added such checkups to the array of services provided by all health facilities across the country.
  • In 1956, the Ministry of Health of the USSR delegated the Institute to exercise scientific and methodological supervision of all scientific research conducted in the country. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health of the USSR and the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences, the Institute set out on a mission to establish cancer and radiological centers in the USSR constituent republics. Within 10-15 years, cancer centers were opened in ten USSR constituent republics and cancer departments were established as part of the Institutes of Experimental Medicine of Estonia and Latvia.
  • In 1959, the Council of Ministers of the USSR issued a Decree launching the construction of a new site of the Institute in Pesochny, a municipal settlement outside the city.
  • In 1963-1964, the Institute moved to the new buildings. This move facilitated the expansion of the clinical and experimental capabilities of the Institute, and allowed to establish new departments and laboratories, and boost the research activities of the Institute in several directions.
  • In 1965, the construction of the laboratory building was completed, which was a significant milestone, since a decision had earlier been made to make the Institute the nation’s main scientific and research institution.
  • In 1966, the Institute was included within the Ministry of Health of the USSR. Its main activities were now focused on the three main scientific and practical issues – diagnosis of malignant tumors; patient care, surgical and combination therapy of malignant tumors; and anti-cancer campaigns. The Institute was given the name of its fist director, Professor Nikolay N. Petrov, whose accolades included the Hero of Socialist Labor, the Lenin Prize winner, the USSR State Prize winner, a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union, a Member of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences. In the same year, the 40-bed children’s ward was established to treat children with tumors.
  • In 1976, the Institute received the Order of the Red Banner of Labor to honor its great deeds in the field of promotion of health, development of medical sciences and training of specialists. In the same year, an official ceremony was held to unveil a monument to Nikolay N. Petrov on the site of the Institute.
  • In 1992-1993, the material and technical resources of the recordkeeping service of the Institute were modernized to facilitate the creation of the Hospital Cancer Registry, which contained more than 280,000 units of clinical documentation and complied with the established international requirements for medical data processing. Decades of work in this area allowed to establish the first Population-based Cancer Registry in Saint Petersburg, using a special program developed by the Institute and the forms approved by the Ministry of Health.
  • In the 1990s, the molecular oncology and diagnostic laboratory and the cancer immunology laboratory were established. At the same time, the Institute turned its attention to combination therapy and drug therapy of malignant tumors. Two new units were established - chemotherapy unit, and biotherapy and bone marrow transplantation unit.
  • In the early 2000s, treatment plans stated often involving a combination of therapies - an adjuvant and neoadjuvant therapy, which considerably improved the efficacy of surgery therapy and in 90% of cases increased the post-surgery survival of cancer patients to up to 10 years.
  • Since 2010 onwards, the Institute has been developing organ sparing techniques and minimally invasive methods of cancer treatment, such as subcutaneous operations, laparoscopic operations, chemoperfusion treatment, as well as such forms of radiation therapy as brachytherapy and stereotactic radiotherapy.
  • In 2012, under the auspices of a state-funded program of modernization the Institute received 500-million worth of new radiation therapy equipment and radiologic diagnosis equipment: brachytherapy devices used to treat cancer of the cervix and prostate; a linear accelerator for precisely-targeted stereotactic radiation therapy of prostate, pancreatic and breast cancer, early-stage lung cancer, and brain metastases; CT scanners; a SPECT-CT machine which combines an array of gamma cameras and a CT machine, etc.
  • In 2017, the Institute celebrated its 90th anniversary. Throughout its almost century long history, the Institute has explored various research and scientific issues, and kept opening new units and departments to keep up with the breakthroughs in the field of study and treatment of cancer.
  • In 2017, the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, through its Act No. 145 of 12.07.2017, tasked the Institute with new powers and responsibilities, such as the organizational/methodological and scientific/methodological supervision of all institutions involved in cancer research and treatment; the development of occupational standards and high education standards for health care providers; the coordination of training of specialists in the field of oncology, including teaching staff; the development of treatment guidelines (clinical practice guideline) to follow when providing medical care; and the development of health care service nomenclature, the standards of medical care, the standard procedures for delivery of health care services and the quality assessment criteria of health care services. The Institute was renamed to capture fully its new mission and became the N.N. Petrov National Medical Research Center of Oncology.

Video about history of the institute

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