Anyone who knows anything about the work of Vladimir Vysotsky has heard about the “chief Academician Ioffe,” and that would be everyone in Russia. And no one questioned Vysotsky's words: Ioffe was the chief Academician, even though officially, Abram Fedorovich was only the Vice-President of the Academy.
An outstanding scientist and facilitator of science, teacher of Alexandrov, Kapitsa, Semyonov, today he is commonly called the “father of Soviet physics" and “Father Ioffe.” But before becoming a figurative father, the son of a second-guild merchant from Romny, Poltava Governorate, graduated from the Saint Petersburg Institute of Technology and later, from Munich University where he was a student of the famous Roentgen. There he obtained a PhD and declined a flattering offer to continue working with Roentgen. Ioffe returned to Russia, and it was a blessing for Russian physics: talented and energetic, Abram Ioffe found the time to carry out his research, organize, teach and advise simultaneously. In 1911, he determined the charge of an electron, and in 1916, held his famous seminar on physics, which attracted young researchers from the university and the institute of technology, those who would later become the pride of Soviet physics. In 1918, Abram Ioffe organized the Faculty of Physics and Mechanics at the Polytechnic Institute to train physical engineers. In the same year, Ioffe created and became the Head of the Physics and Technology division in State Institute of Roentgenology and Radiology. In 1921, the division became a separate institute, the Physico-Technical Institute of the Academy of Sciences, and Abram Ioffe took the position of its Director. Today it is known as the Ioffe Institute. A vast number of works generated in the institute do not bear the name of Ioffe, although his contribution to those works was significant: Ioffe was notable for his exceptional scientific generosity and selflessly helped his students.
Since 1932, Ioffe was also the Head of the Agrophysical Institute. Abram Fedorovich actively supported the creation of physical and technical institutes in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Sverdlovsk, Tomsk.
He had a chance to lead the Soviet nuclear project. But he dared to decline, in favor of the younger Kurchatov. “I do not know any academician with that name,” said Stalin. But Ioffe insisted, and Kurchatov was awarded the title of Academician.
During the campaign against cosmopolitanism, Ioffe was ousted from the institute that he created. But he did not give up, creating the Laboratory of Semiconductors and becoming the Director of the institute that grew out of it after the death of Stalin. Ioffe was awarded the Lenin Prize posthumously, in 1961.