2 августа 2021  |  
3:45 PM  July 7, 2021

Tomsk unis presented the Biomedicine Center project to Minister Falkov

© РИА Томск. Павел СтефанскийTomsk unis presented the Biomedicine Center project to Minister Falkov
© РИА Томск. Павел СтефанскийTomsk unis presented the Biomedicine Center project to Minister Falkov

TOMSK, Jul 7 – RIA Tomsk. The project of the Tomsk Center for Biomedicine and Biotechnology was presented to Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation Valery Falkov. To launch it a new building of 20 thousand square meters will have to be built, Deputy Governor for Scientific and Educational Complex Lyudmila Ogorodova said.

Earlier it was informed that four Tomsk universities – State University (TSU), Polytechnic University (TPU), State University of Control Systems and Radioelectronics (TUSUR), Siberian State Medical University (SSMU) and Tomsk National Research Medical Center (TNRMC) that includes six research institutes, intend to create a common laboratory base and train specialists together in the Center for Biomedicine and Biotechnology. This will be one of the important projects of the Big University.

The round table "Engineering Biology. Development Prospects" was held at TSU with the participation of Valery Falkov, head of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, who was in Tomsk on a working visit. The project of the national hub "Engineering Biology" was presented at the meeting.

© РИА Томск. Павел Стефанский
The meeting was attended by representatives of the Tomsk regional administration and leading research centers of Russia, including the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Center for Genome Research Kurchatov Center for Genome Research, and others.

Bioengineering in Russia

Engineering biology can solve a variety of industrial problems – from developing new medical drugs, such as antibiotics, to which bacteria cannot develop resistance, to obtaining new types of environmentally friendly products and biofuels, allowing to reduce anthropogenic pressure on the planet.

"We don't have anywhere to take capacity, we don't have a department, we don't have a faculty. So today we come in from business orders, we ask them what you need and, using some single knowledge, we start moving in that direction," Ogorodova outlined the problem.

© РИА Томск. Павел Стефанский
Lyudmila Ogorodova
She explained that abroad separate faculties and departments appeared 15 years ago, while in our country there are still only separate laboratories, and not in all universities. And in this area Russia is now lagging behind its foreign colleagues.

"In our country (in Russia) education and training for the market is still subject specific. We have training in biology, chemistry, physics – that is, natural science subjects... While abroad, education for bioeconomics is in terms of problems: bioengineer, cell technologist, specialist in bioenergetics," Ogorodova said.

She noted that Tomsk could become a place to create a national hub for biomedical engineering in Russia, which would accelerate the development of this field of science.

To create a hub, the Big University faces three sets of tasks. The first is equipment "that no one will give". Tomsk universities and research institutes are now consulting with Novosibirsk and Moscow on this issue. The second is cell biology and genomic technology, and the third is translational medicine.

"Everyone in their university and institute is "doing something" on this topic... So our first task is to assemble these competencies," she noted, adding that for this purpose Big University has initiated the creation of consortia in the main areas of engineering biology: biomedicine, agroecobiotechnology, industrial biotechnology.

New building

Earlier it was reported that it was proposed to physically implement the project in the recently completed building of the Tomsk National Research Medical Center (TNRMC). An empty four-story building with a total area of 4.2 thousand "squares" is located in the center of Tomsk, on Kooperativny Lane.

Ogorodova told Falkov that the center needs a new building of 20,000 square meters, "because there is no available space anywhere in any organization, all are in short supply."

"What do we need to complete? A bioengineering center, the kind where we will have startup studios, fabrication of product solutions, interaction with business, a laboratory unit, and a shared-use center where we can assemble equipment. We need to bring all the scientific groups here that could develop together," she said.

© РИА Томск. Павел Стефанский
"Everyone agrees that the conversation about the need for dynamic development of engineering biology is overdue. Research institutes and medical universities have certain developments. Now it is necessary to work out the form of consortia that will unite these organizations," Falkov said.

"The country needs a strong biology engineering cluster. I think there will be several "crystallization points" of research and knowledge, one in Moscow, another in Siberia and let's see where else. We need to structure the idea and figure out where to go. I think we will aim for a national roadmap for the development of biomedical engineering. There are enough tasks for everyone," Falkov said in his turn.

First steps

During the meeting, a trilateral agreement was signed between TSU, Siberian Federal Research Center of Agrobiotechnology (SFRCA) of the RAS and Vavilov All-Russian Research Institute of Plant Genetic Resources on the implementation of initiatives in the area of "Engineering Biology and Genetic Technologies".

© РИА Томск. Павел Стефанский
Signing a trilateral agreement
According to the TSU press service, the consortium will focus on designing and creating new varieties of crops and medicinal plants. Scientists will use bioengineering technologies to give plants improved properties and expand their functionality. It will allow effectively solving the problem of food security of the country.

In addition, one of the first steps of the Big University of Tomsk in the development of engineering biology at the educational level will be the launch of a new master's program at TSU in September 2021. Students will be trained to analyze the genomes of living organisms and edit them using bioinformatics and genetic engineering methods.

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