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Jakub Karol Parnas
Born January 16, 1884(1884-01-16)
Mokriany, Austro-Hungarian Empire
Died January 29, 1949 (aged 65)
Moscow, USSR
Alma mater Royal Technical College of Charlottenburg
Known for Embden–Meyerhof–Parnas pathway

Jakub Karol Parnas, also known as Yakov Oskarovich Parnas (Russian: Яков Оскарович Парнас) (January 16, 1884 – January 29, 1949) was a prominent PolishSoviet biochemist who contributed to the discovery of the Embden–Meyerhof–Parnas pathway, together with Otto Fritz Meyerhof and Gustav Georg Embden. A collaborator with the Soviet regime since its invasion of Poland in 1939, he fell victim to a Stalinist purge in 1949.



Parnas was born in 1884 in Mokriany near Drohobych, at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in the province of Galicia (now split between Poland and Ukraine), to Jewish parents. He graduated from the Royal Technical College of Charlottenburg in 1904. From 1920 to 1941, he was head of the Institute of the Medical Chemistry at Lviv University. He traveled across Europe, collaborating with universities in Cambridge, Naples, Strasbourg, Ghent and Zurich. He was a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Corresponding Member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, as well an honorary doctor of Sorbonne University and the University of Athens.

After the Soviet invasion of Poland and annexation of Western Ukraine in 1939 by the Soviet Union, Parnas remained in Lviv to continue his work in the institute. He also started collaborating with the Soviet authorities by taking on a political role in the communist District Soviet Worker's Delegation. In 1941, after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Parnas was evacuated deeper into the USSR and remained there for the rest of his life. Only a few days after his departure Lviv was occupied by the Nazi Germany army, who massacred approximately 45 Lwów professors.

In the Soviet Union, Parnas met Joseph Stalin, convinced him of his usefulness and shortly thereafter received his own laboratory. He became an Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and a founding member of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR.

Despite his achievements and popularity, Parnas was falsely accused of being a spy of the West and arrested by the KGB on January 28, 1949. According to KGB's archives, he died during his first interrogation at Lubyanka prison from a heart attack on January 29, 1949.


Parnas's major work was the study of the mechanisms of carbohydrate metabolism in muscle tissue. Together with Władysław Baranowski, he discovered the process of phosphorolysis.[1] Parnas also made a major contribution to the theoretical analysis of glycolysis.


Parnas is honored by the Polish–Ukrainian Parnas Conference organized by the Polish and Ukrainian Biochemical Societies, which has been held every two years since 1999.


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