Our Activities in Ukraine
- As Director of the main Centre for Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Kharkov, Academician Valentin Grischenko in the early 1990s was keen to set up the first in vitro fertilisation (IVF) clinic and fertility research laboratory in that city. He tasked a young colleague Dr Valiri Chedayev with researching the best centres worldwide to visit and learn from and he eventually came to the UK hosted and funded by our parent organisation the Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research for a working visit of 8 weeks. In that time he visited and worked in three clinics and laboratories where IVF was being pioneered in the UK including Steptoe and Edward’s Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge and the Royal Free Hospital and Kings College Hospital in London. We have just had a report from Kharkov that the Centre is very active and their clinical results in 2015 are exceptionally good by international standards with pregnancies successful at the first attempt in over 33% in women under 35 years of age. IMET2000 has over the last 15 years actively supported several young Ukrainian scientists to study human infertility, one in the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and others in London, with pioneering research on freezing of ova and embryos carried out successfully.
- As a result of a four week working visit to London in 2005 by Dr Igor Polivenok and Dr Vladimir Smirnov to study the working of a modern cardiac service in the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals, the first such unit in the Ukraine was established in the Kharkov Institute of Surgery headed by Professor V.V. Boyko. In spite of severe financial constraints, this has developed so successfully under the direction of Professor Boyko and Igor that last year in 2015, they were running four catheter labs and carried out over 200 ablations, 200 child cardiac operations,100 open heart and coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) procedures and 280 pacemaker implantations. IMET2000 can share in the pride in this great success story as we arranged and funded that visit to London which started it all. Starting up new ventures combining service delivery and training is our core business.
- Following on from the successful outcomes of IMET support to young scientists from the Institute in Kharkiv to attend the London meeting of the Society for Low Temperature Biology meeting in Autumn 2014, plans for 2015 support are ongoing. As outlined by the Chair, Colin Green and Barry Fuller visited the institute for the Annual Young Scientist conference over May 20 & 21st, held at the Institute for Problems of Cryobiology in Kharkiv. The conference was attended by some 50 pre- and post-doctoral scientists and medical trainees from the IPC, and from Kharkiv State and Medical University along with other senior staff who vote on the best presentations. In previous years some scientists from East Ukraine (Donetsk Region) and from the West (Kiev) have also attended, but given the difficult political situation, they were absent this year, although some sent unmanned posters. The meeting was organised by the young scientists group within the UNESCO Chair at IPC, which is the structure which IMET seeks to support, in consultation with the IPC senior management committee. The level of presentations was high, with one day arranged by presentations in English, and the other day with presentations in Ukrainian language but with slides in English. These skills in science communication will allow the early career professionals aspire to good publications in higher impact journals and presentations at international meetings In 2014, IMET provided 100$ to cover printing of the scientific programme for the May 2014 meeting, but at the moment, this has not been requested for 2015 meeting, probably because an electronic version was delivered, but we will keep an eye on that.
- A next focus for IPC with IMET support will be the International Society for Cryobiology meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Given the relatively close proximity of this, a number of the UNESCO group will aim to make presentations there. Scholarships of 500 euros should cover costs of travel and meetings attendance. Award is based on active participation by oral or poster presentation. The UNESCO group organized an internal competition, based on assessment of the abstracts to be submitted to Ostrava, from some 12 applicants. Using this ranking, and discussions with the UNESCO group management, a group of 6 with (a) the highest scores and (b) an account of previous IMET support (such as SLTB London) was selected and announced at the end of the meeting. The names have been communicated to the committee in Ostrava so that written invitations – essential for Visa to travel – can be obtained in Kharkiv. We will review the situation as things move forward to establish how many will eventually meet the criteria and obtain visas. As before, awardees will be asked to complete a grant report on their activities which will be lodged with IMET central office.
- A visit was also made to the library facilities to see the computers, sponsored by IMET, being used for academic purposes in the library. Two terminals have been provided and are booked by the young scientists to access on line journals and reports. We discussed with the Institute Director about the link to HINARI, which costs 1500 euros per year and has currently lapsed due to lack of funds. Since the link supports the whole UNESCO group (some 30 scientists at IPC plus others from the Universities) it was decided to cover this cost by IMET, once a clear mechanism for payment can be identified.
- In summary, significant strides have been made by the UNESCO group, both in individual scientific professionalism and in their ability to organise themselves into a structure capable of managing things such as ranking travel applications and peer reviewing their group’s activities. This has been largely due to IMET support over several years. It is worth noting that others of the (now) more experienced young scientists within UNESCO applied directly to the Society for Cryobiology for the Society’s own travel grants, and some (different) 6 people have been awarded these, which is a mark of the increase in general standards at IPC.
- Below are some images of Colin and Barry in the library at IPC with some of the UNESCO group using the computers, and the Meeting in progress with questions and answers sessions.
- IMET2000 Programme in Ukraine
IMET2000 was pleased to sponsor five young Ukrainian scientists and doctors to travel from Kharkiv to a three day conference to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Society of Low Temperature Biology (SLTB). This was held in Kew Gardens from October 8th-10th. The conference covered the whole spectrum of uses of cold for plant and animal preservation, storage and hibernation. It was generally agreed to be an outstanding success. The feedback from the Ukrainians who are all members of the UNESCO Chair ‘cathedra’ has been very positive indeed. In total 13 Ukrainians attended the conference and enjoyed not onlyt the science but too the Kew environment and their brief time in London. More information on the UNESCO Chair in Kharkiv (www.cryo.org.ua/ipk eng/unesco.html) and on SLTB (www.sltb.info/SLTBs50th.html) is available on their websites.
- October16th-18th:BJF and CG worked in Kharkov with the young scientists of the UNESCO Chair.
- May 15th-20th: Together with Barry Fuller, CG worked in Kharkov with the young scientists of the UNESCO Chair and participated in the Young Scientists Conference. Dr Andrei Yabluchanski, working in NPIMR (www.npimr.org) under the supervision of Barry and sponsored by IMET2000 was awarded his PhD in University College London (UCL).
- August 18th-21st: CG worked in the Ukraine for 3 days.
- November 26th-December 2nd: BJF and CG visited Kharkov and joined in the celebrations for the 10th Anniversary of the UNESCO Chair in Cryobiology being established.
- May 28th-June2nd: BJF and CG worked in Kharkov with the UNESCO Chair scientists and participated in the Young Scientists Meeting.
- August 9th-13th: CG worked in the Ukraine (Kharkov and Kiev) together with Professor Barry Fuller (BJF).
- November 11th-16th: With Professor Barry Fuller, CG worked in Kharkov for 5 days.
- October 20th-November 5th:IMET2000 sponsored Dr Andrei Yabluchanski from Kharkov to train in experimental surgery and microsurgery in the NPIMR laboratories.
- July 12th-15th: CG visited Kiev for the Ukraine Academy of Scientists meeting and to meet senior academics wanting to collaborate with NPIMR and Kharkov as joint ventures.
- May 6th-12th: CG visited Kharkov to work with young scientists and participate in the Young Scientist Conference
- November 19th-23rd: CG flew to Kharkov to work with UNESCO Chair scientists.
- September 20th-23rd: CG flew to Kharkov for their annual conference and meeting with the UNESCO Chair young scientists.
- August8th-11th: Dr Galina Gardamaya from the Ukraine sponsored by IMET2000 spent time in Northwick Park and Mount Vernon Hospitals for preliminary training in Plastic surgery.
- January 15th: Dr Lydia Kravchenko arrived in the UK from Kharkov (sponsored by IMET2000) to spend 4 weeks in the Royal Free Hospital research laboratories of Professor Barry Fuller studying different perfusion solutions for storage in experimental liver transplantation.
- May15th-20th: CG visited Kharkov in the Ukraine partly to meet up with the Dean in the Kharkov State Medical School and arrange for teachers to help in teaching anatomy in Palestine and partly to participate in the two-day Young Scientists Conference and meet with the young scientists forming the ‘cathedra’ of the UNESCO Chair in Cryobiology.