Yuri S. Balashov, ESA Fellow (1995)

Dr. Yuri Sergeevich Balashov (deceased 28 September 2012), Doctor of biology, professor, Corresponding member and Advisor to the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), and chief editor of Parazitologiya, was elected as Fellow in 1995. He was well known for his comprehensive work on ixodes ticks, which are important vectors of diseases to humans and other animals.

Balashov was born 25 December 1931 in Leningrad and spent his early years associated with the Hermitage because of his mother's work in Oriental languages. His family was evacuated to Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg) in August 1941 after the disappearance of his father on an archeological expedition. It was in Sverdlovsk that Balashov became interested in nature, taking classes at the local naturalist society, including the practical: learning to grow potatoes. His interest in biology continued after his family's post-war return to Leningrad, and he began a lifelong association with the Zoological Institute (ZIN) of the USSR Academy of Sciences. He studied biting flies in expeditions along the river Pechora, worked as a laboratory assistant, then in 1949, entered the Faculty of Biology and Soil Sciences at Leningrad State University, specializing in invertebrate zoology. He took an interest in arthropods of medical and veterinary importance, particularly their functional morphology. In 1953, he began what would become a career-long systematic and comprehensive study of ixodid ticks at the Department of Parasitology at the ZIN. He became a junior researcher in 1957 and senior researcher in 1964, even though this position was normally reserved for those with a Ph.D. He obtained his Doctor of Biology in 1967 and was active in preparations for the 13th International Congress of Entomology held in Moscow in 1968. He earned the title of senior researcher in parasitology at the ZIN in 1972, was appointed deputy director of research from 1975–1979, and head of the Laboratory of Parasitology from 1977–2005. He was appointed Advisor to the RAS in 2005.

Balashov studied a broad range of problems on the morphology (including pioneering work using both light and scanning electron microscopy) and physiology of ixodid ticks, paying special attention to the circulation of disease organisms within the ticks and their transmission to humans. With microbiologist A.K. Daiter, he detailed the relationship of rickettsiae and their arthropod hosts. Balashov's works were in such demand that several, including his 1972 Bloodsucking Ticks (Ixodea)–Vectors of Diseases of Man and Animals and 1983 An Atlas of Ixodid Tick Ultrastructure, were translated into English and published by ESA. In addition to several large monographs, he published over 200 papers and supervised the dissertations of 16 students.

Balashov's career was studded with awards, including the 1981 E.N. Pavlovsky Gold Medal, issued by the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences for outstanding achievements in parasitology; Medal of Honor for Labor Valor for contributions to the progress of biology; and election as Corresponding member of the RAS in 1994.

Even in retirement, Balashov would continue to take part in expeditions, publish papers on ixodid ticks, and edit Parazitologiya.

(updated June, 2015)