Cover image for The cure : a story of cancer and politics from the annals of the Cold War
The cure : a story of cancer and politics from the annals of the Cold War
Krement͡sov, N. L.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvi, 261 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RC271.I45 K74 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Did America try to steal Soviet "cancer secrets"? And how could a cancer cure turn into a "biological atomic bomb"? Nikolai Krementsov's compelling tale of cancer and politics is the story of a husband-and-wife team who developed a promising anticancer treatment in Stalin's Russia, only to see their discovery entangled in Cold War rivalries, ideological conflict, and scientific turf wars.

In 1946, Nina Kliueva and Grigorii Roskin announced the discovery of a preparation able to "dissolve" tumors in mice. Preliminary clinical trials suggested that KR, named after its developers, might work in humans as well. Media hype surrounding KR prompted the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union to seek U.S.-Soviet cooperation in perfecting the possible cure. But the escalating Cold War gave this American interest a double edge. Though it helped Kliueva and Roskin solicit impressive research support from the Soviet leadership, including Stalin, it also thrust the couple into the center of an ideological confrontation between the superpowers. Accused of divulging "state secrets" to America, the couple were put on a show trial, and their "antipatriotic sins" were condemned in Soviet stage and film productions.

Parlaying their notoriety into increased funding, Kliueva and Roskin continued their research, but envious colleagues discredited their work and took over their institute. For years, work on KR languished and ceased entirely with the deaths of Kliueva and Roskin. But recently, the Russian press reported that work on KR has begun again, reopening this illuminating story of the intersection among Cold War politics, personal ideals, and biomedical research.

Author Notes

Nikolai Krementsov is a senior researcher at the Institute of the History of Science and Technology, St. Petersburg Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. xi
Cast of Charactersp. xiii
Prologuep. 1
Act I. Discoveryp. 7
Roskin: A Man and His Microscopep. 10
A Discoveryp. 18
A Scientist at Workp. 24
Act II. Innovationp. 33
Kliueva: Making of a Bacteriologistp. 34
Research and Developmentp. 42
Boy Meets Girlp. 47
Act III. Warp. 52
Retreatp. 53
The War and Soviet Medicinep. 56
Revivalp. 62
Veber's Ployp. 68
Act IV. Politicsp. 75
The American Ambassadorp. 77
KR Comes to the New Worldp. 84
Between Worldsp. 91
Act V. Ideologyp. 101
The Cold Warp. 102
The Honor Courtp. 109
The Trialp. 115
The KR Affairp. 126
Act VI. Culturep. 134
On Stage: Alien Shadowp. 136
On Screen: The Court of Honorp. 144
Fiction and Realityp. 152
Act VII. Ambitionsp. 158
Building the Labp. 159
Turf Warsp. 168
Competitive Exclusionp. 177
Act VIII. Ideasp. 183
KR on Trialp. 185
Between Bench and Bedsidep. 191
"Trypanosa" and "Cruzin"p. 198
Epiloguep. 207
List of Abbreviationsp. 215
Notesp. 217
Acknowledgmentsp. 253
Indexp. 255