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OUR KNOW-HOW: TIME OF HOPE

Дата публикации: 01 ноября 2021
Автор(ы): Sergei ALDOSHIN
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Рубрика: РАЗНОЕ
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №2, 2013, C.17-20
Номер публикации: №1635766532


Sergei ALDOSHIN, (c)

by Acad. Sergei ALDOSHIN, Vice-President of RAS, Director of the Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics, RAS

 

Innovative technologies, much the trend now, are a live issue discussed at the government level, in the scientific community and in the mass media. This is a strategy of world progress. Russian industries, however, are in no hurry to adopt domestic know-how. Why? Our reporter Yevgeniya Sidorova has approached Acad. Sergei Aldoshin, Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, to learn.

 

For all the great publicity given to science-intensive technologies even at the top level, there is still a lack of national innovative projects. As president of the RAS Coordination Council for Innovative Activities and Intellectual Property you can size up the situation and point to the cause: why basic science does not offer projects attractive to businesses.

 

- And yet there are projects like that after all, their implementation is sure to boost the performance of Russian enterprises. Russian chemists, for one, have a bag of innovations in the area of new materials, resource-, energy- and nature-saving technologies, in molecular electronics and pharmacology. Here's a good example: a team of experts led by Acad. Salambek Khadzhiev of the Topchiev Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences has developed a high-degree technology of crude oil refining-as high as 90 to 95 percent, while in the West the degree of oil refining averages 90 percent and in this country, it is not above 75 percent. Khadzhiev and his colleagues are using different, low-cost catalysts.

 

Russian innovations are quite on a par with world standards or even superior. However, to get innovative technologies ready for industrial uses, we need engineering centers which we have none. At the Academy of Sciences at any rate.

 

But we should look the hard truth in the face: corporative Western science is offering us technologies of yesteryear, though brought to the design stage. Russian innovators are facing problems of commercial adoption. In petrochemistry RAS is cooperating with much success with many companies, with Tatneft in particular, that has been very helpful to us (Tatneft is a home company in the Republic of Tatarstan whose president, Rustam Minnikhanov, has been consistent in pursuit of the innovation policies). Yet it is hard to find an investor for novel oil-refining technologies.

 
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The Tatneft company is ready to invite our native experts only for the upgrading of particular stages of the Western technology. In this case our experts will find it difficult to protect their intellectual property rights. We should not merge national and Western innovations in one project, this is detrimental to us.

 

You mean there are no mechanisms for assimilating original homeland innovations...

 

- The state is trying to adopt technical regulations of innovation activities. This is very important, mind you. In August of 2012 the federal government suggested that major mixed state-ownership companies should map out innovative strategies, and plan several years ahead. We should allocate part of the research funds for outsourcing, that is to outsiders if they can do the job in real terms and cater to their customers' needs. It is the end results that count, and the efficiency of scientific research goes up accordingly. The Presidential Council for Economic Modernization and Russia's Innova-tional Development is to supervise realization of this program.

 

The state has created tools to marry the interests of research scientists and investors. Technological Platforms, for instance. One such project dealing with a high-degree refining of hydrocarbon resources has been suggested by RAS research institutes, with the All-Russia Research and Design Institute of Petroleum as overseer.

 

The list of such technological platforms covers other key innovative areas. One deals with new polymer composite materials and technologies, it is the responsibility of VIAM, the All-Russia Institute of Aviation Materials, with Yevgeny Kablov*, a RAS member, in charge. The "Medicine of the Future" platform is innovating in

 

See: "VIAM: Work in Progress", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2012. -Ed.

 

pharmacology; this research line is delegated to Siberian State Medical University affiliated with the Federal Agency for Healthcare and Social Development. A new antitumoral medication developed at our Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics (RAS Science Center at Chemogolovka, Moscow) is to be tested within the framework of this project.

 

Speaking at the joint German-Russian symposium "Chemistry Shaping the Future", Acad. Valery Charushin heading the Institute of Organic Synthesis (RAS Ural Branch) told about the innovative research of his collective in obtaining medical drugs of a new generation. This project could be financed within the framework of "Medicine of the Future", right?

 

Yes, that's true, the research work done by Acad. Charushin and coworkers in targeted synthesis of biologically active substances has very good prospects, and it should be an attractive proposition to pharmaceutical companies. One such drug, Rephloxacin, has been synthesized already. This antimicrobial preparation has a wide spectrum of bacteriocidal effects-it kills microorganisms

 
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resistant to other antibiotics. Its production technology has been developed, and there are batches of this preparation already on hand. I might as well mention Triazavirin, an antiviral preparation having a wide range of applications (against flue, tick-borne encephalities, RS-infec-tion*, avian flue and other infectious diseases). Effective at all stages of infection, it is characterized by a new mechanism of medication, among other things.

 

However, none of the large Russian pharmaceutical companies would take risks and invest big money. Instead, one would bring in second-rate analogs from other countries in exchange for clinical tests here in Russia.

 

Are foreign companies taking an interest in our research works? There might be examples of partnership relations, while honoring the interests and intellectual property rights of Russian scientists.

 

- The "Chemistry Shaping the Future" symposium is aimed at expanding such cooperation. Between Russian and German chemists, too. As sponsors of this project were the Russian Academy of Sciences and the German concern LANXESS, a producer of chemicals, the base of a wide range of polymer materials. It is a serious investor working in Russia since 2009. It has a vested interest in two-way cooperation-our research scientists involved with chemistry and the materials science achieve good results.

 

The RAS Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics is both the designer and holder of the joint patent with LANXESS. In 2012 we prolonged our contract for the third time. Meanwhile our German partners have raised the funding bill several times. This is a reply to your question if Russian basic science has projects attractive to

 

* RS-infection-a respiratory-syncytial infection, acute viral illness, characterized mainly by affection of lower sections of respiratory tract.-Ed.

 

businesses. It is not accidental that the signing of our contract with LANXESS took nine months: the scheduled research work should not interfere with RAS programs. In addition, it is very important to defend intellectual property rights of native scientists.

 

What are the policies of Russian scientists to keep the right to their inventions?

 

- First, we do not publish all of our results. Second, in keeping with recommendations of expert lawyers, we protect many of our inventions as know-how because Russian patents are not valid in other countries, and the state gives RAS only 10 mln rubles a year for international patenting. Such was the bill in 2012, and it will stay the same in 2013. This is a small sum to cater to our essential expenses.

 

You were talking about medicines of a new generation that might appear thanks to the know-how of Russian chemists. This is mammoth work, particularly, in approbation of new medical drugs...

 

- That's another problem: alongside engineering we need screening centers at RAS for research prior to clinical tests. It could be solved by what we call "pharm-clusters", too, at RAS research institutes. We are trying to find partners among our national research centers. In antitumoral drugs, for instance, we are collaborating with the Blokhin Oncological Center headed by Acad. Mikhail Davydov; in cardiology, with the Russian Cardiological Amalgamated Center under Acad. Yevgeny Chazov. But before getting down to prospective drugs jointly with medics, chemists should evaluate their toxicity, metabolic characteristics, side-effects and costs involved in their synthesis-such preparations must be as low-cost as possible. Today RAS research institutes, like the Chemogolovka-based Institute of Physiologically Active Substances, are checking up on the charac-

 
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teristics of such preparations. Our Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics has a nursery and a vivarium for preclinical tests; but to have our results recognized abroad, a screening center should be accredited, and this costs big money.

 

Looking out for investors again?

 

- In August of 2012 the federal government signed a decision on setting up 14 pilot territorial clusters of innovation so as to overcome the financial snags standing in the way of science-intensive industries. Our research institute as well as that at Pushchino is among partners of the Moscow regional biotechnological cluster. The science towns of Pushchino and Chernogolovka ought to be a testing ground specializing in pharmacology, medicine and biotechnologies. We cannot do without accredited screening centers. Single projects could be financed through federal goal-oriented programs, I believe.

 

Today novel Russian medicines account for less than 10 percent of the pharmaceutical market, though our real research potential is far higher, and investments will pay off in time.

 

Innovational development of the economy is inconceivable without reproduction of research personnel. Any optimistic hopes in this regard?

 

- Several generations of research personnel in the 35 to 65 age bracket were lost to science because of a drastic cut in allocations in the 1990s. It is hard to form skilled personnel-we want not only research scientists but also engineers capable of designing research setups. But we are acting to reverse the situation. Thus in 2006 Lomonosov Moscow State University opened a department of basic physical and chemical engineering with a class of forty students enrolled yearly. Half of the undergraduates take practicals at our Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics, for one, in the laboratory headed by Dr. Pavel Troshin, a talented young scientist still under thirty, who has raised a team of young researchers; this collective is employed in basic research works by contract with LANXESS in developing alternative energy sources with the use of the organic materials science and nanotechnologies. Getting such hands-on experience, our graduates are bent on serious work in science. We help them with their term and graduation papers, too.

 

Most of the RAS members as well as heads of research centers and laboratories are teaching as heads of college or university departments and chairs. This has always been in the scheme of things. A cohort of our scientists are at Lomonosov Moscow State University. Thus Acad. Konstantin Solntsev doubles as director of the RAS-affiliated Baikov Institute of Metallurgy and Materials Science and as dean of the materials sciences department at Moscow State University. Acad. Alexei Khokhlov is heading the Laboratory of Physical Chemistry of Polymers at the Nesmeyanov Institute of Het-eroorganic Compounds, and simultaneously, the Chair of Polymers and Crystals Physics at Moscow University's Physics Department. And so on down the line. The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology has set up subsidiary departments in as good as all RAS academic research centers involved with the natural sciences. Major Russian scientists are active in coaching the younger generation that will walk in their shoes someday.

 

Overall, as much as 25 percent of young research scientists are on the staff of the Russian Academy of Sciences. We are placing big hopes on them as the future of Russian basic science. True, the proportion of the younger set differs with different research institutes. If young researchers have an interesting job and housing, if they have an opportunity to cooperate with international companies-well, the situation is better. We understand the importance of incentives, and are trying to do our best to enlist young people and make their work at RAS both interesting and rewarding.

 

Illustrations by courtesy of the Organizing Committee of the German-Russian symposium "Chemistry Shaping the Future" and RAS Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics

Опубликовано на Порталусе 01 ноября 2021 года

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