What difficulties Russian scientists faced and how to overcome them were discussed yesterday at the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences.
The topic of the meeting is "Science and Import Independence of Russia". True, the broadcast on the Scientific Russia portal, for unknown reasons, was hidden from the eyes of the people, and the journalists were made only witnesses to the discussion of insignificant organizational issues. How science will help the country's import independence can only be guessed from the mean lines on the Scientific Russia website. There are 3 topics on which the Academy of Sciences listened to reports: “On the creation of the Russian production of magnetic resonance imaging scanners for high-precision medical diagnostics based on a unique domestic development”, “On import substitution in the field of oil refining and petrochemicals”, “Prospects for import substitution in the field of industrial catalysts".
Why this information was classified, we have not been able to find out. The press service of the Russian Academy of Sciences did not respond to the editorial request either. This allowed us to start our own investigation of the situation in domestic science.
Not so long ago, the serious problems that domestic science is experiencing in connection with the imposition of sanctions were identified by several well-known Russian scientists at once. Among them was a professor at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, head of laboratories at the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the National Research Center "Kurchatov Institute" and at the Institute of Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences Konstantin Severinov.
The problems in question are obvious. This is the restriction of scientists in subscribing to leading scientific foreign journals, the possibility of publications in them, the cessation of joint research and travel. How to be in these conditions? After all, science is by definition international. The seriousness of the situation even made RAS Vice President Alexey Khokhlov say that Russian scientists could lose access to 97.5% of the world's scientific information.
“Subscription to leading foreign scientific journals is not cheap, so most often the institute buys access to a package of journals on a topic of interest. This year, Russian institutes and universities have paid subscriptions to the journals of interest through the Ministry of Education and Science, so there are no problems. If Western publishing houses or scientific societies do not want to interact with Russian state structures, then there will be no institutional subscriptions for the next year. You can really directly contact the authors with a request to send the full text of the article, or to colleagues who have a subscription. In fact, this was exactly the situation 15 years ago. We will return to the past”, - says Konstantin Severinov, professor at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.
Another question concerns direct interaction with leading foreign scientific centers. After all, many novice scientists studied at the postgraduate courses of the world's leading universities and conducted their developments there.
“As for travel and cooperation, the political climate is not conducive to this right now. Nevertheless, now I have 7 graduate students who are abroad on academic mobility programs. The labs where these guys work are looking for funds to replace the Russian share of funding and enable them to complete their scientific projects. Many thanks to them for this”, - Konstantin Severinov, professor at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, told NI.
It seems that the connections of leading foreign scientific and research centers are moving to a “private plane”. But there is conflicting information here. For example, a large German research center DESY spread a message about a ban on joint publications with Russian and Belarusian scientists. The American pharmaceutical company Amgen has suspended the recruitment of Russian specialists for its internship program for molecular biologists, chemists, physicians and bioinformatics. But at the same time, a number of Western institutions decided to continue cooperation with Russian scientists. Among them are the Free Institute of Berlin, which continues to accept applications from Russian students and young professionals, and the University of Ghent. "Universities of the Netherlands" suspended cooperation with scientific institutions in Russia, but promised to provide support to students from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus studying at universities in the Netherlands. The European student organization Erasmus called on Western institutions to support students from Russia. The British organization Universities UK, which unites 140 educational institutions, recommended that its members not declare a “total boycott” of cooperation with Russia...
Judging by the information from the Russian Academy of Sciences, the priority now is electronics, which is now in need of many sectors of the national economy. For years, Russia has been buying microelectronics from Taiwan instead of making its own. And for many years there were talks that it would be necessary to create their own, but Russia continued to buy imported ones, working on American and Dutch technologies. The base for the development of our own microelectronics, according to the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Dmitry Sergeyev , we have, it is located in Zelenograd, where up to 80% of domestic microcircuits are produced. Physicists, electronics engineers, engineers are now being mobilized there on an emergency basis.
The second area that needs to be “raised” is medical equipment. Tomographs, diagnostic equipment, everything connected with human life comes to the fore. Here, too, there is hope for progress. at the Physical Institute. Lebedev Institute of Physics and Technology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (FIAN), a few years ago, Evgeny Demikhov and his colleagues developed their own magnetic resonance tomograph with a magnetic field of 1.5 Tesla, which has advantages over foreign analogues.
Another "burning" direction is pharmacology. Medicines are one of the most vulnerable places today. “If we talk about generics (drugs that are made according to an open formula derived from a sub-patent), we have no problems here. But, as a rule, we do not have the funds to develop our newest drugs based on original molecules. These are billions of dollars for one drug... I think that the scientific potential of domestic pharmaceutical companies, such as Generium, Biocad, etc., is sufficient to develop original drugs in close cooperation with our research centers,” President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeyev assured.
A natural question arises: why before that, for 30 years, our scientists could not realize all this potential, which, as it turned out, we have? The President of the Academy of Sciences Sergeyev outlined the scheme simply and colorfully:
“For example, officials from the ministry announce that we have critical areas in which it is urgent to develop one or another import-substituting device, material or medicine. Companies are being called out: “Who is ready to do this?”. Wishing, as a rule, there is a lot. Then the ministry asks: “Do you know how to do this?” Answer: “We can, we just need to develop one component or detail.” Then comes the call to research and production organizations: “Who will help our companies develop the necessary components?”. And here there are even more people who promise a lot, get money for it, but very often they never complete what they promised. As a result, years pass, customers understand that it is faster to order a product abroad than to wait for development from their own. And according to this scheme, our "import substitution" worked for decades!
And this despite the fact that considerable money has been allocated for science in recent years. But they went somewhere, like water through your fingers. Thus, Federal Law No. 385-FZ of 08.12.2020 “On the federal budget for 2021 and for the planned period of 2022 and 2023” provided for appropriations for civilian science as part of 35 state programs, their total amount will be 563.5 billion rubles. At the same time, more than 90% of the total funding fell on the state program "Development of the electronic and radio-electronic industry". But the domestic electronics industry never reached the level of Taiwan.
Now Russian scientists, apparently, will have to be content with what they have. Many scientists are wondering if this will lead to hack work?
“The officially announced reduction in the requirements for the quality of articles and scientific results, sufficient to receive or continue Russian grants for scientific research, will obviously lead to hack work. A large number of Russian scientists have a mantra: articles from Russia are not accepted in foreign scientific journals because of politics. This is a very convenient position: you don’t have to do your job at the proper level, everything can be explained by the fact that “Russians are not liked”. Now everything is official: you can not try to make the work so that it is published in an international journal that is read by scientists all over the world. Some bulletin of a provincial university is enough. Obviously, under such conditions, the number of articles about the "memory of water" and "perpetual motion machines" will increase, and the level of Russian science will fall", - Professor Konstantin Severinov believes.
But Russian scientists seem to have no other choice but to make effective inventions for production. After all, even Frederic Joliot-Curie said: “Science is necessary for the people. A country that does not develop it inevitably turns into a colony. We cannot afford this.