07 February 2013

The best young scientists in Russia

Named the best scientists of 2012

Yuri Medvedev, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 07.02.2013

Their names are traditionally named on the eve of February 8, Science Day. The laureates represent different fields of knowledge. These are biologist Dmitry Chudakov, historian Andrey Usachev, physicists Fyodor Ignatov and Cornelius Todyshev, chemist Nadezhda Bokach. Among the laureates are world–renowned scientists with high citation and Hirsch indices. The amount of each award is 2.5 million rubles.

Doctor of Biological Sciences Dmitry Chudakov is one of the world's leading experts in his field. His articles have been published in prestigious international publications, including more than 10 papers in the journals of the Nature group. He is one of the most cited young scientists in Russia: his citation index is 2300, the Hirsch index is 23.

Dmitry Chudakov's work is devoted to the fluorescent proteins already famous today. For example, animals that have the genes of such proteins embedded in them have been shown on television more than once: kittens, chickens, pigs, mice that turn green, yellow or red when illuminated in blue.

In 2008, Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfi and Roger Tsien received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery and development of fluorescent proteins. Today, many different fluorescent proteins have been created, without them it is impossible to imagine modern biomedicine and molecular cell biology. They are used in the creation of medicines, in biomedical research, preclinical drug trials, in neurobiology, immunology, oncology, etc. With the help of such proteins, you can see how the tumor grows. Or watch how the fish thinks.

– Hundreds of laboratories in leading countries are working on the creation of various fluorescent proteins and instruments based on them, – Dmitry Chudakov told the correspondent of "RG". – Including under the leadership of Nobel laureate Roger Tsien. The competition is the strongest. And yet, in a number of areas, we regularly managed to get ahead of the main competitors – from the USA and Japan. An example is the far-red protein "Katyusha", designed to visualize cells in the thickness of animal tissues.

Scientists solved the problem: how to see what is happening inside, say, a live mouse, without dissecting the animal? The fluorescent proteins known by 2007 – green, blue, orange – could not effectively solve this problem. The fact is that their light is absorbed by tissues. Theoretically, the hope was given by the farthest red color in the light range – in the region of more than 630-650 nm. Unfortunately, no fluorescent proteins with such a spectrum have been found in the wild. A number of laboratories have been trying to get bright far-red options for a long time, but it was the Russians who managed to make a breakthrough.

– I will not go into the technology, I will only say that, in fact, we were engaged in combinatorics, selecting the necessary libraries of options from a variety of possible ones, – says Dmitry. – Moreover, just one correction in the original DNA sequence, leading to a single amino acid substitution, often entailed a whole train of changes in many biochemical and spectral properties of the protein. It is impossible to sort through all the options theoretically, life is not enough. Of course, we made certain calculations and estimates, but to a large extent we had to rely on intuition, gradually accumulated experience and luck multiplied by stubbornness. 

Today, Katyusha is the best of the existing genetically encoded markers for visualizing objects in the thickness of living tissues. It is actively used all over the world in studies of various processes in animal models, including in the development of antitumor drugs. Dmitry Chudakov heads the Laboratory of Genomics of Adaptive Immunity at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry named after Academicians M.M. Shemyakin and Yu.A. Ovchinnikov of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Professor of the Russian State University for the Humanities Andrey Usachev was awarded "For his contribution to the study of ancient Russian literature of the XVI century."  Russian Russian history of the XVI century, the study of the ideas of the ideologists of that time about the formation of the Russian state, Russian historiography are devoted to his works. He studied the monuments of ancient Russian literature and the activities of writers of this era.

– In particular, I am revising the traditional concept of "Moscow is the Third Rome", – Andrey Usachev told the correspondent of "RG". – I think that it was not as influential in the Middle Ages as it was often represented in the historical, political and philosophical literature of the second half of the XIX and early XX centuries.

In addition, the writings of Usachev investigated the era of Metropolitan Macarius, in which the young Ivan the Terrible was formed. Then a group of educated people (Metropolitan Macarius, the tsar's confessor Andrei-Athanasius and others), surrounding the sovereign, tried to put a certain range of ideas into him, to influence his character with positive examples from the past. For example, a Sedate book was compiled for the young tsar, which consisted of 17 biographies of his predecessors. These were actually perfect portraits – their creators hinted in Aesopian language to the Russian autocrat what kind of tsar he should be. Role models were embodied in the images of the rulers of Ancient Russia, which was considered as an ideal period of Russian history.

The writers of the time of Makarii paid special attention to the time when the rulers of the once powerful Ancient Russian state levied tribute even from the proud Tsargrad. It is significant that these works were written on the very eve of the Oprichnina, being, in fact, an attempt by intellectuals of that time with moral examples of the past to prevent a fatal turn of events. As you know, Ivan went his own way.

Andrei Usachev also researched lists of a number of little-known works of literature, published and introduced into wide scientific circulation important monuments of ancient Russian literature that had never been published before. The results of the scientist's research are presented in the form of a fundamental monograph and more than 130 publications.

Employees of the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics SB RAS Fedor Ignatov and Cornelius Todyshev were awarded the prize for their work in the field of elementary particles.  We are talking, perhaps, about the most important secret of the universe: how the universe works. Today, the ideas about it are based on the so-called Standard Model, which is considered one of the most outstanding achievements of science of the XX century. It is she who is being tested today at the famous Large Hadron Collider, trying to finally make sure that the Divine Higgs boson responsible for the masses of elementary particles is still caught. To do this, in a cyclopean accelerator, the particles are accelerated almost to light speeds and break up into billions of new particles during collisions. Among them, the Higgs boson is caught.

– But there is a fundamentally different approach, – Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, head of the laboratory, told the correspondent of "RG"  Institute of Nuclear Physics named after Vladimir Blinov. – When new particles are also born, but not real ones, as in the TANK. In fact, they are virtual, arise and almost immediately disappear. In fact, these are a kind of reflections of real particles. To fix them, you need the highest accuracy of measurements, and then you can do without powerful accelerators, sufficiently low energies.

Fedor Ignatov and Cornelius Todyshev managed, according to Vladimir Blinov, to record with a high probability the birth of new heavy particles with an accuracy that is not yet available to anyone in the world. In addition, they obtained the most accurate measurement result of the parameters of the "enchanted" mesons. These works will eventually allow us to build a more reliable picture of the universe.

Fyodor Ignatov is the author and co-author of more than 50 scientific papers. He worked in the USA, in the team of an international project on measuring the anomalous magnetic moment of the muon. Now he is participating in an experiment to search for rare muon decays (Switzerland). Cornelius Todyshev has published more than 300 scientific papers in co-authorship. Participates in the international collaboration on the study of B-meson physics (USA).

Doctor of Chemical Sciences Nadezhda Bokach was awarded the prize for her major contribution to the methods of organic synthesis involving platinum and palladium. These metals are one of the most important natural resources of Russia, and their chemistry has always been a priority area of domestic science. In the works of Bokach, for the first time in the world, it is shown that a number of new chemical reactions can be carried out, in particular, platinum with organic substances. The result is materials that previously did not exist at all.

– I want to emphasize that first of all we conduct fundamental research, – explains Nadezhda Bokach. – The fact is that platinum is able to activate those organic substances with which it combines and "trigger" such reactions that are impossible without the participation of platinum.  Some of the new compounds we are getting can be used in a variety of fields. For example, in medicine, to create new drugs with a much stronger therapeutic effect. New materials will also find application in the chemical industry, primarily as catalysts for the production of silaxane rubber. It has many applications today, in particular, thermal and electrical insulators, protective coatings, biocompatible polymers for implants, etc.

Doctor of Chemical Sciences Nadezhda Bokach is an associate professor at St. Petersburg State University, a laureate of the European Academy Awards, as well as the L'OREAL Prize for outstanding women in science. She is the most cited young scientist at the university. Author of more than 60 articles and 5 reviews in prestigious domestic and international journals. Her citation index is about 1000, and her Hirsch index is 17.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru07.02.2013

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