Ukraine News and Activities
Ukraine Young Scientists in Seville SLTB Conference
October 9, 2019
Text:IMET2000 supported four young scientists from the Institute for Problems of Cryobiology and CryoMedicine (Ukraine National Academy of Sciences) in Kharkov recently to visit and present talks at big international scientific conferences overseas. Three from the group of the UNESCO Chair in Cryobiology in the photo with our IMET2000 Trustee Barry Fuller attended the Society for Low Temperature Biology (SLTB) meeting in Seville, Spain; the other Dr Alexander Shilo presented his work in two papers, one on cold adaptation after chronic exposure to low temperatures and the other a survey of sleep patterns in scientists working in Antarctica at the Extreme Physiology meeting in Portsmouth, UK. The presentations were well received, and additionally the group in Seville were winners in the photograph competition for images of ‘cold in life’. All four gratefully acknowledged IMET2000 support.
The 43rd Annual Young Scientists Conference
Together with a new and enthusiastic colleague seriously interested in supporting young scientists and doctors in the Ukraine, a world authority on cryo-electron microscopy called Professor Roland Fleck, Barry Fuller and Colin Green joined forces in Kharkov, Ukraine from the 25th May to the 30th May. During those four working days, we actively participated in the 43rd Annual Young Scientists Conference over 3 days (27th to 29th inclusive) and were treated to a very full programme of reports on research (most delivered in English) ranging from low temperature storage of animal cells such as red blood cells to fish sperm as well as many other valuable uses of freezing in medicine, plant and agriculture seed and meristem storage and preservation of endangered species genetic material. In fact although we in IMET have worked in the Ukraine for some 36 years and been most interested in the uses of low temperature in medicine either to preserve cells, tissues and whole organs or to kill selectively unwanted cancer cells such as basal cell carcinomas, the emphasis now is more on preserving for the long term future biodiversity reproductive material both plant and animal.
During all four days, we three visitors joined with the young scientists, the Director of the Institute in which they work Academician Anatoliy Goltsev and senior colleagues in the UNESCO Chair in Cryobiology to discuss a future strategy for the Institute of Problems of Cryobiology and Cryomedicine NASU under the umbrella of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Unfortunately, many of the problems faced by the research scientists are out of date equipment and instruments, poor salaries, some far too elderly senior staff who are remnants of the Soviet era and now only very recently a new President of the Ukraine who may not value the Academy or science and therefore leave them even more poorly resourced. On the positive side, the Institute was recently visited by an evaluation group from the Academy and was awarded an Alpha rating. The journal has been much improved. The Institute is by far the biggest centre of low temperature sciences in the world and could be a central repository and on-line facility for information of a global matrix of knowledge in this discipline. Finally we were much impressed by the enthusiasm and excellence of so many young scientists in their reports and in later Q&A and discussion groups. IMET is keen to support them with small scholarships and travel bursaries for meetings overseas providing opportunities for collaborations outside Ukraine but recognising too that this may accelerate the brain drain of the best and most adventurous. All three of us are keen to go on working in Kharkov through IMET and our Universities (UCL and Kings College in London).
Society for Low Temperature Biology Annual Meeting
IMET2000 supported another young scientist Dr Taisiya Yurchuk from Kharkov to attend the Society for Low Temperature Biology Annual Meeting in Prague from September 6 th -8 th. We are delighted that she won the first prize for her poster presentation. Our charity has supported research and IVF service development for well over two decades in the Ukraine and cold storage and preservation of cells and tissues is an important contribution to that discipline worldwide. Taisiya wrote her appreciation afterwards:
I've just returned home from the conference.
It was great. Not many people as in Madrid but it makes the meeting very comfortable, like a family and calm meeting, and all participants can quietly communicate with each other.
It was unexpected that I've been awarded with the prize for best poster.
I will send you some foto from this meeting.
With best regards,
This is another example of how IMET2000 for very small financial outlay can encourage medical research in economically deprived countries like the Ukraine in addition to upgrading their clinical services.
Travel Bursary for Iryna Buriak
IMET2000 has awarded Iryna Buriak of the Kharkov Institute a travel bursary to attend “The 13th International Conference on Animal Physiology 2017” to be held on June 21st-23rd,2017 in the Congress Centre ACADIMIA (Stara Lesna, Slovakia) organised by the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Animal Physiology. We hope that this will increase the co-operation between the two Institutes and the Slovak and Ukrainian National Academies of Science. The official site of the conference is https://sites.google.com/site/physiologyanimal2017/”
Colin Green flew to Kharkov in the Ukraine on May 4th for a working visit until the 7th May in which time he planned together with the Dean of the Institute for Problems of Cryobiology and Cryomedicine , Academician Anatoliy Goltsev, the Head of IT Eugenia Pushkova and the lead young scientist Olga Mikhailova heading up the UNESCO Chair cathedra the many ways in which Barry Fuller and IMET2000 could support the young scientists and the research funding of the Institute.
Apart from travel bursaries for young scientists to attend overseas conferences, it was agreed that:
Barry and I should write a position paper ready for the Ukraine National Academy of Sciences major assessment scheduled for September 2017 about the international reputation of the Institute and the reputation of the UNESCO Chair in Cryobiology
The Institute would set up a website in which a record of all research papers and pioneering ideas related to low temperature biology would be posted as an on-line reference library with free access and international reach (to be run by Olga Mikhailova and the young scientists with IT support and funded by IMET2000)
IMET2000 would support at least three young scientists to participate in the Society of Low Temperature biology in Cambridge in August,2017
IMET2000 would support the visit of Academician Goltsev to the next UNESCO Chair Meeting in Geneva in September
All this can be achieved within the small IMET2000 budget ring-fenced for our Ukraine activities.
Travel Bursary for Yulia Martynova
IMET2000 continued its support for the Institute for Cryobiology in Kharkiv, Ukraine by supporting with a travel bursary the participation of PhD student Yuliia Martynova in the 10th edition of Leiden International Medical Student Conference from the 15th -19thMarch,2017. Yuliia reported on her research into the effects of cold on mammalian hearts and was particularly interested in a workshop on stem cell research given by Professor Jon van Rood. She found LIMSC was an interesting and intense conference with lectures from leading researchers and physicians, workshops and different social activities. It was an opportunity not only to share studies and discuss scientific matters but also to find new friends in the biomedical field and start building a scientific network for the future. During the 5 days conference she gained extensive experience and had the pleasure of seeing The Netherlands and Leiden University, one of the oldest universities in Europe.
Ukraine Updates for 2016
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.
Ukraine Updates for 2015
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.
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.