|Российская наука и мир|
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)
The Australian / August 04, 2004
Russia battles the brain drain
Хотя "утечка мозгов" находится на пике, некоторые ученые остаются. Не потому, что не могут, а потому, что не хотят. Одна из причин – интересная работа и возможность находиться "на переднем рубеже науки".
AKADEMGORODOK: Sipping from an outsized cup at a coffee shop, his computer jargon competing with the sounds of U2 and frothing latte, software designer Yuri Bannov could almost be in Silicon Valley. Only the birch trees and babushkas outside give away his actual location: Siberia.
While he lives in Akademgorodok, a faded former center of Soviet scientific might, Bannov's company does almost all its work for clients in the United States and Europe.
He is part of a new generation that has stemmed the brain drain that sapped the nation of many of its best and brightest following the Soviet collapse.
They stay home because they want to - not because they can't get out. Russia's economy has improved since the desperate early 1990s, and Russians are now used to the post-Soviet freedoms that let them see the world and come back. For many, the desire to leave has become less pressing.
"I've traveled a lot, and I like to vacation abroad, but I don't think I would like to live there," said Bannov, who abandoned his postgraduate studies in mathematics to go into lucrative business designing software.
The name Akademgorodok, Russian for Little Academic City, comes from some 30 scientific institutes set along its tree-lined streets. It was founded about 2800 km east of Moscow in the late 1950s as the Soviet Union raced to develop Siberia and surpass Western science. Now, one of its roles is in outsourcing for companies in the West.
"There's not much to brag about here - not high salaries or anything else - but everything has become more stable," said Gennady Kulipanov, deputy head of the Nuclear Physics Institute in Akademgorodok.
"Six, four years ago, you didn't know if money would come or not, and the pervasive feeling of uncertainty put great psychological pressure on people."
About 150 people from Kulipanov's institute have emigrated, he said, reeling off the names of top US laboratories where many of them now work. Fermilab in Illinois could field two soccer teams of the institute's alumni, he said.
While the brain drain has peaked, the Academy of Sciences still struggles against the odds to attract and keep promising graduates, in part by offering housing loans. Grants from mostly foreign but also Russian sources keep some scientists working here, while others make lengthy working visits abroad and then return to Russia.
"We cannot compete with the United States or Japan or Germany in terms of salary levels - we'd lose hands down," said Kulipanov. "We can't compete in housing - each of our young people who has left for Europe or the States has a good house after a few years of work. Where we can compete is in the level of interesting work."
As Pavel Logachev proudly shows off the particle accelerator being built in a big underground room at his lab at the Nuclear Physics Institute, it's clear that love of the job is a major factor keeping the 39-year-old father of two teenagers in Russia.
"I can do things here that I would not be able to do there," Logachev said. "Here we have good young people, we have interesting work - we do work on the very leading edge of science."
While it used to serve the Cold War interests of the Soviet state, the institute - like Bannov's software company - survives on foreign orders, making and exporting smaller accelerators and other equipment.
Other institutes supplement their state subsidies with private deals that Kulipanov said sometimes involve foreign clients - and creative thinking.
"The Institute of Archaeology had a big mammoth in the lobby next door here; it stood there for 20 years, doing nothing. So they took it apart and sent it to Japan and Australia to appear in exhibits," he said.
In recent years, the Nuclear Physics Institute has sent 40 accelerators to countries including China, South Korea, Japan, the United States and Germany and sold only one domestically. Kulipanov says that ratio underlines the limits of Russia's current growth, which is based largely on oil and gas exports, and the need to diversify the economy.
"This is now the main task - not strengthening the authorities but solving economic problems: the creation of an internal market, investment in industry and science," he said.
© The Australian
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ScienceDaily / 2004-08-18
AIDS And Tomatoes
Ученым удалось внедрить ген ВИЧ в хромосому томатов, что дает возможность создания на их основе "съедобной" вакцины против ВИЧ/СПИД. Подобную вакцину удобно хранить и перевозить, к тому же ее производство не требует больших затрат.
Scientists from Novosibirsk are currently creating a pleasant and harmless vaccine - an edible one. So far, they managed to incorporate the protein gene - HIV antigen in tomatoes. The research is supported by International Science and Technology Center (ISTC).
All patients would be overjoyed to get edible vaccines, contained in vegetables and fruit. Imagine, a patient eats a vaccine and this way gets protected from a dangerous infection. However, this is not a fantasy, the fact being confirmed by the research carried out by scientists all over the world. They are working hard to create an edible vaccine against HIV - a lethal virus. Russian researchers from "Vector" State Scientific Center for Virology and Biotechnology jointly with the specialists from the Institute for Biological Chemistry and Fundamental Medicine in Novosibirsk, Siberian Institute for Plants Physiology and Biochemistry, Irkutsk, and the scientists from the Department for Agricultural Research, Maryland, USA are also working at this challenge. They are not at the stage of creating the vaccine yet, but the biologists have managed to incorporate the right gene into tomato plants and have proved that the protein required for the vaccine is not only contained in tomato leaves, but in tomato fruit. And this is a considerable achievement.
By the way, tomatoes have not been chosen by chance. The matter is that transgenic plants, which contain protein- HIV antigen, have already been cultivated, but these plants are either not edible, like tobacco, or must be thermally processed, like potatoes, and this way they practically lose their healing powers. To this end tomato serves ideally. The good thing is that this vegetable grows pretty well in Russia, compared to bananas, already used by Western scientists to produce vaccines.
In order to introduce the right gene into tomatoes, the scientists have constructed the so-called agro-bacterial vector. In the agro bacteria culture the researchers have collected the hybrid plasmid (circular DNA), where they have inserted the artificial protein gene, comprising key sites of two HIP virus proteins. This protein should serve as an antigen in order to get the immune response, and the important point is, not just for one virus protein, but for several ones. It was also required to add the cauliflower mosaic virus gene to the combination, and it was used as a promoter, which controls the functioning of the targeted gene. This complex construction together with the bacteria culture was introduced into tomato germs with the help of an injection needle. Afterwards, the germs were cultivated on a special nutrient medium, and those plants which grew roots, were planted into the soil and cultivated in the hothouse till they matured and developed fruit. With the help of the polymerase chain reaction the researchers have proved that the gene is present in the plants, and with the help of other methods have tested that it works - the protein is present in the leaves and, even more important, in tomato plant fruit.
However, the scientists have gone further - they needed to test if the gene could be passed over to the next generations of plants. They took the seeds of the transgenic tomatoes, couched them and grew the second generation tomatoes, which also happened to be transgenic. The ante-gene protein was present in their fruit.
"The cultivated transgenic tomato plants are worth to be considered in terms of creating an edible vaccine against HIV/AIDS and hepatite B on their basis", this conclusion was made by the scientists. But how is this prospective edible vaccine supposed to work? Protein-antigen would interact with the mucous membrane of the gastrointestinal tract, activating the so-called mucous type of immune protection. As a result, the organism would synthesize antibodies against virus protein. The advantage of edible vaccines compared to injections is the absence of risk of passing over infections, edible vaccines are comparatively inexpensive and do not require any special facilities for storage and transportation. And finally, they are tasty!
Copyright© 1995-2004 ScienceDaily LLS
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CORDIS Nouvelles / 2004-08-03
Les scientifiques russes comptent encore parmi les meilleurs, selon un rapport
Российская система научного образования возрождается, выдавая каждый год 200 000 дипломов по научным специальностям, утверждает журнал Businessweek. Университеты и институты привлекают частное финансирование и сотрудничают с такими компаниями как Intel и IBM, а на научные факультеты поступает все больше студентов. Но большинство выпускников уходит в частный сектор, и когда нынешнее поколение профессоров выйдет на пенсию, ценный опыт преподавания может быть утрачен.
Le système d'enseignement scientifique russe renaît actuellement de ses cendres, avec 200 000 diplômés en sciences chaque année, selon un rapport rédigé par le magazine Businessweek.
Le rapport avertit toutefois que les professeurs universitaires vieillissant et les jeunes diplômés étant recrutés par le secteur privé ou des universités étrangères, "la science russe pourrait être en sursis".
"Il s'agit d'une des surprenantes histoires de survie de la Russie: la renaissance du système d'enseignement scientifique russe, jadis exceptionnel", peut-on lire dans le rapport. "Le financement public pour la recherche et l'enseignement scientifiques s'est effondré avec le démantèlement de l'Union soviétique [...]. Mais les universités et instituts scientifiques russes s'adaptent lentement aux dures réalités d'une économie de marché, en exploitant les financements privés et les contrats de recherche et en constituant des partenariats avec de grandes entreprises telles que Intel, IBM, et Cisco Systems. Entre-temps, les inscriptions aux cours scientifiques sont à nouveau en hausse", ajoute le rapport.
Grâce à la reprise économique de la Russie, qui a débuté à la fin des années 1990, le gouvernement du pays a augmenté de 90 pour cent ses dépenses dans le secteur de la science, et ce depuis 1998. Ce chiffre reste néanmoins nettement inférieur si on le compare à la période précédant la chute du communisme. En effet, la Russie ne consacre que 1,24 pour cent de son produit intérieur brut à la recherche et au développement (R&D), soit la moitié des dépenses de la France et de l'Allemagne dans ce secteur.
Il est nécessaire de stimuler davantage les investissements publics si l'on veut encourager les diplômés à enseigner, précise le rapport, car les professeurs dans les universités sont de moins en moins nombreux et de plus en plus âgés. "Le niveau de la science fondamentale russe est encore très élevé, mais lorsque la génération actuelle de professeurs prendra sa retraite, leur expérience pourrait être perdue", a confié à Businessweek Irina Dezhina, de l'Institut de l'économie en transition.
Une étude menée par l'université d'État de Moscou pour le gouvernement russe a révélé que presque deux tiers des scientifiques russes ont plus de 40 ans. Le rapport recommande donc de prendre des mesures, telle que l'orientation des fonds vers les domaines de la recherche les plus prometteurs et présentant le meilleur potentiel ou encore permettre aux scientifiques novateurs d'obtenir un meilleur retour financier de leur implication dans des projets financés par l'État.
Comme dans certains autres pays, les scientifiques russes perçoivent des salaires très bas. En Russie, le salaire d'un professeur adjoint ne dépassera pas 83 euros par mois, par rapport à 3000 euros au Japon, par exemple. En conséquence, soit les jeunes diplômés travaillent ou étudient à l'étranger, soit ils travaillent dans le secteur bancaire ou des affaires.
Malgré ces inconvénients, "les Russes, jeunes et moins jeunes, ne cessent d'épater le monde entier par leur talent scientifique et mathématique", écrit Businessweek. "Les étudiants [sont] si bien formés en informatique, en physique, en mathématiques et en ingénierie que certaines des plus grandes entreprises de haute technologie du monde se les arrachent", ajoute le rapport.
En outre, la Russie compte de plus en plus de diplômés en sciences. En 2004, 225 831 étudiants ont décroché leur diplôme en informatique, ingénierie, mathématiques et physique, soit une augmentation de 11 pour cent par rapport à 2003. "Malgré la mode récente des études de gestion et de marketing, les jeunes Russes redécouvrent l'intérêt pour les sciences traditionnelles", rapporte Businessweek. Les cours universitaires les plus sollicités sont les sciences et les mathématiques.
CORDIS NOUVELLES RDT/© Communautés européennes
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The Sydney Morning Herald / August 14, 2004
Alarm at Russian drilling in Antarctica
Российские ученые планируют продолжить бурение оставшихся 120 метров ледника, под которым лежит самое древнее озеро на Земле - Восток. Западные ученые считают этот план слишком поспешным. Во-первых, во время бурения озеро может быть загрязнено, во-вторых, бактерии, предположительно в нем обитающие, могут оказаться опасными для современной жизни на Земле.
In the coldest place on the planet, buried beneath three kilometres of ice, Lake Vostok has remained a warm haven for 20 million years, protecting life unknown to science.
But scientists say the pristine water in Antarctica is threatened by a Russian plan to drill through the last 120 metres of the ice cap and become the first nation to study the lake. At a conference last month, scientists from around the world attacked the Russians' plan, saying it could contaminate the water.
"My criticism is that this science plan isn't very well-developed. It's almost like they want to go in just to be the first," said John Priscu, a geomicrobiologist at Montana State University. "It's not a race; it's to do it right."
There are more than 150 bodies of water under Antarctica's glaciers, but Vostok is exceptional because of its enormous size and its age. The water has been isolated for 20 million years, so American scientists believe Vostok may host remnants of early life on Earth, such as bacteria, and could also be a window into life on other planets. Lake Vostok has often been compared to Europa, a frozen moon of Jupiter, where scientists suspect there may be simple life forms dwelling in the ice-capped ocean.
The world's deepest ice core has already been recovered from Vostok Station, the year-round base the Russians operate above the lake, and has provided invaluable data on climate history. The international group that drilled the core stopped operations in 1998 when it realised it was about 120 metres from Vostok water, and had not found a way to drill into the lake without contaminating it. Since then the core has been filled with kerosene to keep it from collapsing - which complicates the process of drilling in cleanly.
The Russians have been planning to drill into Vostok for years, but now the drill is already on the ice, and they expected to fire it up in December, Dr Priscu said.
He and other scientists are concerned that chemicals and microbes on the drill or in the borehole will pollute the lake, and that bacteria brought out could be dangerous to present life.
The US has not tried to enter the lake, saying there is no scientific consensus on how to proceed. "We need to look at whether or not it's necessary to go into the lake ... and if that's deemed scientifically a valid goal, how we can do it without contaminating the waters there," said Peter West, a media officer for the National Science Foundation. "There is interest in what lies under the lake, but there is no plan to explore what's under the ice sheet at all."
Russia has complied with the Antarctic Treaty, which requires countries to conduct an environmental evaluation of any work on the continent and to inform other countries of their plans, but does not require approval.
The Russian team concluded its environmental assessment by saying that "the significance of the impact of the proposed activity on the environment of the station area, ice sheet, and lake is no more than minor." Russian researchers did not return several calls for comment.
Critics say the Russian plan - aimed at obtaining data on the evolution and origin of the lake - also will not accomplish much in the way of science. Just skimming water from the top of the lake, as the Russians plan, will not yield climate data from tens of millions of years ago, as would a core from the lake bottom.
The Russians plan to drill down close to the lake and then replace the kerosene in the bottom of the hole with silicon. They would then switch to a small drill to punch through to water, let the water rise up and freeze in the hole, and then drill it out.
Drilling a new hole would be expensive, and some scientists question whether the Russians, who have relied on American funding in the past few years to supply Vostok Station, can afford even to complete the first hole.
In addition to complaints of contamination, the drilling would also be dangerous, American scientists say. The water sits under about three kilometres of ice, which amounts to 400 times the pressure on the Earth's surface, and the lake water has a very high gas content.
"That's basically an explosive situation," said Brent Christner, an expert on Vostok, "and it could potentially kill everyone on the surface."
Copyright © 2004. The Sydney Morning Herald.
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USINFO / 23 August 2004
Viruses on the attack
Revealing visuals show details of a common mechanism for infection
Спектроскопические технологии позволили российским и американским ученым определить, каким образом некоторые вирусы проникают в клетки, прокалывая наружную мембрану и переваривая клеточные стенки. В дальнейшем эти исследования могут оказаться полезными в борьбе против смертельных бактериальных инфекций.
ARLINGTON, Va. - Using a combination of imaging techniques, researchers have determined the mechanics that allow some viruses to invade cells by piercing their outer membranes and digesting their cell walls. The researchers combined their findings with earlier studies to create a near-complete scenario for that form of viral assault.
The results have a dual benefit: they show the inner workings of complex, viral nanomachines infecting cells (in a process nearly identical to some viral infections of human cells) and the images provide design tips for engineers hoping to build the gene delivery devices of the future.
The study, by researchers from Purdue University and the Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry in Moscow, appears in the August 20, 2004, issue of Cell.
Led by Michael Rossmann and Vadim Mesyanzhinov, the team added their findings to several decades of research into the structure of bacteriophage T4 - a virus that attacks the familiar pathogen Escherichia coli (E. coli). The work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), The Human Frontier Science Program and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Although some strains of E. coli can cause food poisoning, other strains supply essential products to the human gut. It is possible that studies of viruses could one day help biologists develop strategies to fight deadly bacterial infections. Similar efforts targeting antibiotic-resistant bacteria are already underway in other laboratories.
The researchers combined x-ray crystallographic data, which gives 3-D atomic details of the constituent viral proteins, with cryo-electron microscopy images to determine how proteins in the T4 phage rearrange themselves during cell infection. Cryo-electron microscopy is similar to standard electron microscopy, except the specimens are first frozen to slow down radiation damage and hence improve the clarity of the images.
By combining thousands of images of the virus viewed from different directions, the researchers were able to determine a three-dimensional structure at about 17 Еngstrom resolution, a distance spanned by just a few atoms. The end result is a model of how bacteriophage T4 infects cells.
Now that the researchers have established relationships between the component proteins, they will be analyzing the conformational changes that occur during infection. As part of their continuing work, the researchers are also looking at similar processes in other viruses to determine common essential features and differences related to the specific adaptation of each virus type.
From the researchers:
"The work opens up the door to further application of 'hybrid' techniques such as we used by combining crystallography and electron microscopy" - Michael Rossmann, Hanley Professor of Biological Sciences at Purdue University
"The results give hope that viruses might be targeted to find specific cells where they would then inject the cell with a genome that included useful new genes for the targeted cell." - Michael Rossmann
"The work is an excellent example of what can be achieved by a team effort, where each person plays a critical and vital role. We were extremely fortunate to have extraordinarily talented scientists such as Petr Leiman and Victor Kostyuchenko as well as equally talented participation of Paul Chipman who did all the electron microscopy data collection." - Michael Rossmann
From experts at NSF:
"This work shows, at the atomic level, how a bacteriophage can break through a bacterial cell wall. Researchers are using the bacteriophage components that specialize in dissolving as the core of a new and emerging strategy to fight bacterial pathogens, especially microbes that have developed resistance to traditional antibiotics." - Patrick Dennis, Program Director for Microbial Genetics at the National Science Foundation
"Viruses - these beautiful machines - are showing us how to develop nanotechnologies with a broad range of applications." - Parag Chitnis, Program Director for Molecular Biochemistry at the National Science Foundation.
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Vladivostok News / August 26, 2004
Far Eastern scientist receives European award
Дальневосточный ученый Владимир Касьянов удостоен престижной немецкой премии Карпинского. Владимир Касьянов возглавляет Институт биологии моря во Владивостоке и специализируется на изучении влияния человека на морскую флору и фауну. Премия названа по имени русского геолога Александра Карпинского, первого президента Академии наук СССР, бывшего также почетным членом немецкой научной академии. Премия вручается раз в два года на протяжении последних 8 лет. Ее лауреатами становятся российские ученые за выдающиеся достижения в области естественных наук.
Academician Vladimir Kasyanov became the first specialist in the Russian Far East to receive a prestigious Karpinski prize established by the Alfred Tepfer Fund of Hamburg, Germany, Monday, the Vladivostok reported.
The award of 15,000 euro was handed to Kasyanov by the delegation from Germany, including director of the fund's executive council Berta Tepfer and head of the Karpinski award judges Albrecht Wagner.
The fund was established in 1931 by Alfred Tepfer to support and develop culture, science, architecture, agriculture spheres and consolidating European cultural community. The Karpinski prize was established in 1977 together with the Russian Academy of Sciences and is handed each two years to specialists in natural sciences.
Kasyanov was chosen by the fund's board of trustees for his investigations of human influence on marine flora and fauna.
Director of Marine Biology Institute of Far East Academy of Sciences, Kasyanov is a world-recognized specialist in the field of embryology and marine organisms. During the last few years the academician has initiated several expeditions to the Sea of Japan involving world's well-known scientists. Kasyanov also heads the East-Asian Committee of the International Environmental Changes international program.
Copyright © 2003 "Vladivostok Novosti"
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