The Laboratory was founded in 1963 by Prof. A. M. Ugolev (since 1966 – Corresponding Member, since 1984 – Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences) who headed it until the end of his life. In 1991–2000 the Laboratory was headed by Prof. N. M. Timofeeva, since 2000 – Biological Sciences Doctor A. A. Gruzdkov.
The main direction of investigations at the Laboratory is study of regularities of membrane digestion and absorption in the small intestine and its adaptative -compensatory readjustments in particular depending on peculiarities of nutrition.
The membrane digestion discovered by A. M. Ugolev in 1958 is one of the main types of digestion and is performed by the own intestinal enzymes and by pancreatic enzymes absorbed on the surface of intestinal epithelium. A. M. Ugolev and his associates used their new original methodical approaches of studies and studied the main regularities of membrane digestion in various animal species under various experimental conditions. The obtained data have been included in all Russian and foreign handbooks and manuals, University courses of lectures, and secondary school textbooks. For the creation of the modern theory of nutrition and digestion, A. M. Ugolev was awarded I. P. Pavlov and I. M. Sechenov Prizes and I. I. Mechnikov Gold Medal of the USSR Academy of Sciences and elected the Actual and Honorary Member of a number of international academies and societies. These investigations were continued and further developed in works of his pupils and associates.
At present the Laboratory carries out extensive studies under the guidance of Prof.
N. M. Timofeeva on problems of early metabolic/alimentary programming of enzyme systems of digestive and non-digestive organs. Such programming was shown to play the key role in formation of the enzyme spectrum of digestive and non-digestive organs of offspring not only in early ontogenesis, but also at the adult age as well as in subsequent generations. Its disturbance due to protein deficit in nutrition of pregnant and lactating females can be the cause of the appearance of such diseases as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, etc.
Under the guidance of Biological Sciences Doctor A. A. Gruzdkov, with use of the original method developed by A. M. Ugolev for chronic experiments on small laboratory animals, studies continue on peculiarities of membrane digestion and absorption in the small intestine under conditions close to the physiological ones. The obtained results have allowed revising many previous concepts about rates of these processes and mechanisms of their regulation, which were based on data of commonly accepted acute experiments in vivo on anesthetized animals. The method of mathematical modeling traditional for the Laboratory also is used efficiently.
The results of the Laboratory experimental studies have found application in medicine Thus, in clinical practice there are used methods developed at the Laboratory for determination of activities of digestive enzymes in intestinal bioptats for the earlier diagnostics and treatment of patients with gastrointestinal pathology. Testing of geroprotectors is performed in cooperation with Institute of Bioregulation and Gerontology of the Northwestern Branch of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. Besides, together with St. Petersburg Academy of Veterinary Medicine, there were developed a medication and recommendations for prevention and treatment of acute gastrointestinal diseases of newborn piglets. In future the Laboratory is planning to continue studies of role of unfavorable nutrition factors in formation and regulation of enzyme and transport systems of small intestine and some non-digestive organs with use of traditional and new methodical approaches.