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Vladimir Skulachev
September 12, 2006 16:18


Vladimir Skulachev: Every biologist deals with living systems. And only few deal with biotechnology.

Brief information: Vladimir Petrovich Skulachev was born in Moscow in 1935. A graduate of biology and soil faculty of Moscow State University, Vladimir Skulachev has mastered a PhD in 1961, and a Doctor of Science degree in 1969. Today Vladimir Skulachev heads the Institute of Physical and Chemical Biology and is the honoured professor of Moscow State University. Mr. Skulachev has founded domestic research school of energy processes in biological membranes. He is also the author of fundamental work in cell energy processes and over 350 publications in Russian and international peer reviewed journals.

Vladimir Petrovich, what do you think about development of domestic biotechnology? What fields are of highest priority and require close attention and funding?

I have always worked in fundamental biochemistry, thus I’m a very young biotechnologist. But still I’m deeply concerned that biotechnologists should start with fundamental aspects of science. Russian scientific schools are very strong, and many fundamental discoveries are desperate to get support. Of course, applied science shouldn’t be forgotten as well. The magic key is listing publications of a scientist and counting his citation index - this simple procedure allows finding scientific leaders, who will further be interested in applied aspect of science.

Do you think Russia has some so-called centres of superiority or growth points? What schools can serve as an example?

I’m sure that growth points are those schools, which are widely known everywhere having something to do with biology. I mean schools aimed at studying different biological aspects – large science institutes and schools. Such schools choose prior research fields, which are totally different from those popular in Western science communities. I shall say it one more time – take the citation index – first hundred scientists are working day and night in quite perspective fields of biotechnology.

Moscow State University’s Institute of Physical and Chemical Biology has old-established traditions. It unites mathematicians, physicists, chemists and biologists. What fields of living systems and biotechnologies are currently developed in the institute?

The whole institute is involved in the living systems’ project, but only a few groups are dealing with biotechnologies, you should understand that these are two different fields. There is a lack of understanding of this difference. Russian Ministry of science says they do not need fundamental research, they need applied studies, which could be quickly put into practice. Such approach is absolutely incorrect. The scientific result doesn’t appear in days, otherwise it would be a fuss, which won’t bring anything significant in financial aspect. Scientific official should try to kindle the interest of fundamental scientists by application of their very strong works. We should stand on both legs – applied and fundamental ones.

What groups of your Institute are currently involved in biotechnological field of work?

The group of V. Shviadas develops applications of biocatalysis, and the group of A. Antonov works with taxonomy, an attempt of genetic analysis. My group has recently started a project with a very interesting applied aspect – we try to stop organism’s ageing. We are lucky to avoid funding problems, and this is that very case, when an interesting theory has grown into absolutely original applied programme. Of course, we have some competitors, in Great Britain, for instance, but they are honourable scientists and we respect them.

What difficulties do Russian biotechnologists experience? First of all, the problem is with funding, and the second one – the scientists are inexperienced in business. They are helpless, because they have never had such an experience.

See also:

Vladimir Skilachev: Biotechnology for Life

Sources:

    www.sciencerf.ru
    www.nature.web.ru
 

Anna Kizilova


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