Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Июль 2003 г.
Дайджест за другие годы
2003 г.
Российская наука и мир
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)

январь февраль март апрель май июнь июль август сентябрь октябрь ноябрь декабрь

      Business Wire / Jul 16, 2003
      InnoCentive Strengthens Relations With Leading Russian Scientific Organizations

    Компания InnoCentive усиливает и расширяет свои связи с ведущими российскими научными организациями.

MOSCOW. Gathering at Moscow State University today, InnoCentive(R) executives announced an expansion of its already deep relationships with Russia's leading scientific organizations. Now, researchers and scientists at these organizations are assured of unrestricted access to university laboratories to research InnoCentive Challenges. In addition to strengthened partnerships with Moscow State University and St. Petersburg State University, InnoCentive today announced that the Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology, a premier research center that trains chemical industry engineers, has joined InnoCentive's online forum that enables world-class scientists and innovation-driven companies to collaborate and solve difficult research and development (R&D) problems.
"Scientists at Moscow State University deeply appreciate the opportunities that InnoCentive provides and we are delighted to be here today to further accelerate our relationship," said Valery V. Lunin, academician and dean of the Department of Chemistry at Moscow State University.
Under the expanded partnerships, researchers and scientists (known as InnoCentive Solvers) at these leading universities will be able to work on the Challenges that best match their interest and expertise. With access to the labs at these organizations, Solvers now have more of an opportunity to work on problems that require the submission of a sample of material, as well as theory-based Challenges that require only a written solution proposal.
"As a premier training center for tomorrow's leaders in the chemical industry, The Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology is thrilled to partner with InnoCentive and offer our students the ability to solve R&D problems posted by eminent global corporations," said Academician Pavel D. Sarkisov, Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology. "InnoCentive provides scientists with the opportunity to receive not only global recognition and financial award, but also the experience of working on some of the world's most difficult R&D problems."
Launched in 2001, InnoCentive is an unbiased knowledge broker between major global companies and the worldwide scientific community, enabling them to collaborate and solve difficult R&D problems. Scientists or researchers that register at www.innocentive.com and who deliver the solutions that best meet challenge requirements receive a financial award for their work. Awards range from USD $5,000-$100,000.
"When InnoCentive was founded two years ago, our goal was to unite corporations with uniquely prepared scientific-minds worldwide and build a virtual laboratory where scientists are not judged by nationality, location or title, but are rewarded strictly for scientific ingenuity and merit," said Darren Carroll, president and CEO, InnoCentive. "Today's landmark agreements with Russia's preeminent universities validates this mission and we look forward to continue working with Russia's leading scientists and researchers."
In additional news, InnoCentive today presented Dr. Sergej Osipov, a scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences, with a financial award for his solution to Challenge 672016 for a Trifluoro-lactate Derivative. The Challenge involved a complicated chemical structure and included stringent cost requirements. Dr. Osipov delivered a highly innovative solution and provided a physical sample that validated his proposed solution. Dr. Osipov is the first Russian scientist from Moscow to receive an InnoCentive award.
"This trip to Russia is especially significant to InnoCentive as not only are we strengthening ties with Russia, one of our top four markets along with China, India and the U.S., but we are awarding a Russian scientist for successfully solving a Challenge. This award underscores the value of the global InnoCentive Solver community," said Ali Hussein, vice president, Marketing, InnoCentive. "InnoCentive will continue its expansion in Russia and in September, we look forward to meeting our scientific colleagues at a global conference in Kazan."
The world-renowned conference in Kazan, the XVII Mendeleev Congress on General and Applied Chemistry, will be attended by InnoCentive senior executives and scientists, Nobel Laureates and Academicians from Russia's leading universities. The event will be on September 21-26.

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      NewScientist.com / 02 July 03
      Pentaquark discovery confounds sceptics
      • By Hazel Muir
    Открытие пентакварков сбивает с толку скептиков.

A brand new sub-atomic particle called the pentaquark has made its debut at labs in Japan and the US. Unlike ordinary protons and neutrons in atomic nuclei, which contain three quarks, the pentaquark has five.
The result has delighted Russian physicists who predicted the mass of the particle in 1997, but met a lot of scepticism from their peers.
"It was not an easy decision to publish our paper six years ago, but eventually we went ahead despite resistance in the community," says Maxim Polyakov, now at the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany. "It is a great pleasure that our theory seems to be correct."
The pentaquark may have been common in the Universe just after the Big Bang, 14 billion years ago. And further studies of it could help patch up some holes in the theory of the strong force that glues quarks together in particles like protons and neutrons.
"The discovery is not just getting another animal in a zoo," says Polyakov. "It will seriously influence our understanding of what the ordinary proton and neutron are made of and "how they work".
Up and down
Particles that contain quarks fall into two main categories. "Baryons", such as stable protons and neutrons in atomic nuclei, contain three quarks. "Mesons" contain two, a quark and an anti-quark, but they are never stable and vanish in a split second.
Theory does not forbid the existence of a short-lived five-quark particle, and scientists have looked for them in the debris of particle-smasher experiments for decades. Having turned up nothing, they were beginning to think they had missed some rule of nature that bans pentaquarks from forming.
But they got a new lead in 1997, thanks to work by Polyakov, Dmitri Diakonov and Victor Petrov at the Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute in Russia. They predicted that one particular pentaquark - containing two "up" quarks, two "down" quarks and an "anti-strange" quark - should be about 1.5 times as heavy as a proton.
Now scientists say they have spotted a particle with the right mass and all the hallmarks of a pentaquark. A team led by Takashi Nakano of Osaka University and another led by Ken Hicks at the Jefferson lab in Virginia made a high- energy gamma ray interact with a neutron to create a meson and a pentaquark. The pentaquark survived for only about 10-20 seconds before decaying into a meson and a neutron.
The Japanese results will appear in Physical Review Letters. Experiments at a Moscow lab have also found evidence for this pentaquark. "The absence of these multiquark particles has bothered physicists for the last forty years," Polyakov told New Scientist. "Now it is over."
But for the moment, physicists say they know very little about the new particle. "The discovery of the pentaquark is really too new," says Hicks. "We haven't had time to think about the implications."

* * *

      Gateway to Russia / 28 July 2003
      Vaccines for Survival
      • By Tigran Oganesyan

    Государственный научный центр вирусологии и биотехнологии ВЕКТОР (Кольцово), работавший некогда над созданием биологического оружия, теперь производит вакцину против опасных вирусов.

Koltsovo Village near Novosibirsk has long ceased to be closed to outsiders. A kilometer away from the village is a vast territory surrounded by a concrete wall topped with barbed wire. Only ten years ago, experiments aimed at increasing the killing power of extremely dangerous viruses were in full swing behind this wall at the State Virology and Biotechnology Research Center Vektor.
Party task
Biologists, seen as enemies of socialism, were persecuted in the USSR for many years, resulting in a considerable lag in the forbidden field of genetics and molecular biology.
As late as the early 70s, the Soviet leadership realized that this lag in the field of biotechnology was fraught with dire consequences. As a result, a special government enactment was issued on April 19, 1974 providing for the allocation of funds to construct several institutes at the same time.
However, they never worked for the public good until the break-up of the USSR. The government's interest in the advanced technologies development had military aims.
The scientists invited to work at the new research centers implemented the Defense Ministry's large-scale top-secret program to create new types of biological weapons.
The proletariat's secret weapon
The Science and Production Association, also known as Vektor, was established in March 1985 and reassigned later to Biopreparat. The biologists' main job was to find the most effective types of viruses for weapons of mass destruction. Their colleagues from other institutes were did the same.
Naturally, the biological weapons program was kept quiet. However, on April 11, 1992, guided by the wish to reassure the world public, Boris Yeltsin signed an official decree on the termination of offensive biological weapons programs in Russia. When the state stopped paying the bills, Russian defense biologists had to turn to completely unfamiliar business: searching for funds.
Scientific curiosity
Long standing general director at Vektor, academician Lev Sandakhchiyev, should be given his due: as early as the mid-80s he began to muse over possible ways to use the work of his labs to new ends.
Sometimes fate intervened. In 1985, Vektor started working with the hepatitis A pathogen (infectious jaundice). The Moscow-based Poliomyelitis Institute didn't have its own facilities to produce enough hepatitis A vaccine, and they turned to Vektor to continue the development. Today, Vektor is the only enterprise in Russia that has the hepatitis A vaccine. It constantly wins numerous industrial contracts, and though on par with foreign analogues, the Vektor vaccine costs 3-5 times less.
Production of another vaccine against measles began at Vektor as well. Initially, it was a redundant production, but now intense development of improved production technology for this vaccine is under way.
Development of yet another product - human recombinant alpha-interferon started at Vektor as early as the 1980s.
This genetically engineered preparation effectively fights various catarrhal infections, hepatitis viruses, and even cancer (for example, its administration may lead to a halt in the pathogenic mechanism and even to the regression of the number of cancer cells).
Special diagnostic units development became one more promising civil areas for initial research by Vektor specialists.
Today, it's one of the two largest enterprises in Russia by production volume of diagnostic sets for diverse viral infections, such as AIDS, hepatitis, herpes, measles, and others. The range of products made by Vektor-Best has increased by about twenty times over the last few years.
IREC saves the day
Vektor's commercial activity, which was only beginning in the early 90s, couldn't cover all the expenses required to run the scientific monster. Moreover, it couldn't count on the state - the total volume of Vektor's financing from the Russian federal budget shrank more than ten times compared to the pre-perestroika era.
Then Vektor began to participate actively in various international projects, which became its main way of earning money. Thanks to the quick establishment of financial contacts with the International Research and Engineering Center (IREC), the Novosibirsk center currently enjoys a relatively comfortable existence.
The new international organization took note of Vektor immediately. Its scientists were given the opportunity to buy equipment and chemicals and to take business trips; salaries increased, and suddenly scientists at the institute began to stir.
In general, financing by IREC of the leading Russian biotechnology centers has been growing steadily over the few last years, and $10.2 million have been devoted exclusively to Vektor projects.
Security: the biggest expense
It is not by chance that the West is taking the trouble to keep the staff at Vektor and other, similar institutes working.
The world needs cheap and effective vaccines. In addition, NATO countries fear that Russian scientists will continue to work on biological weapons, if not in Russia, then in other, less desirable countries. At the beginning of 1990s, Soviet biotechnologists went abroad in search of new sources of livelihood in the hundreds, if not the thousands. A substantial part of them settled in the West, but, according to data from the secret service, quite a few of them headed for other countries in search of a job, not only to Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran and North Korea but also China, Israel, and India.
Rogue countries have made repeated attempts to get a hold of Russian bio-specialists. In the late 1990s, the Western mass media actively promoted stories about the frequent visits of Iranian emissaries to both Koltsovo and Obolensk.
However, the center's leadership refused to proceed, because financial aid from American partners came in time. In an interview with The Washington Post, a US State Department official who wished to remain anonymous noted with satisfaction: "We've no longer heard of any Iranian visits to Vektor."
The next generation
Meanwhile, Vektor continues to develop more and more new vaccines and medicines. Among research funded by IREC and a number of other western partners are a cultural flue vaccine, new methods of vaccination against tuberculosis, and AIDS vaccine development.
In March 2001 in Atlanta, Lev Sandakhchiyev announced his intention to set up, using Vektor as a basis, a specialized International Center for the Study of Emerging and Reemerging Diseases. This project hopes to attract $25 million at the outset and additional annual financial support in 4 to 5 years totaling $12 million. Sandakhchiyev's idea was backed by the US State Department and the US Department of Health and Human Services. In 2001, Vektor received its first $250 thousand for the project.

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