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Five young Russian researchers got RF Presidential prizes in science and innovations for 2012 in February of 2013. Such prizes were instituted for budding talents. Yuri Medvedev of the Rossiiskaya gazeta newspaper elaborates.

Dmitry Chudakov, Dr. Sc. (Biol.), head of the Laboratory of Adaptive Immunity Genomics in the RAS Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry named after Academicians She-myakin and Ovchinnikov is among world-known scientists in his field. His papers are published in prestige international periodicals including above 10 papers that appeared in journals of the Nature Publishing Group; his citation index is 2,300 and his Hirsch index*, 23.

Chudakov's interests concern fluorescent proteins. Thus, shown on television more than once were animals with built-in genes of such proteins (kittens, chickens, pigs and mice) who became green, yellow or red upon exposure to blue light.

In 2008 USA biochemists Osamu Shimomura and Roger Tsien, and also neuroscientist Martin Chalfie were awarded a Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery and studies of fluorescent proteins. Scores of them have been created, and it is impossible to conceive modern molecular cell biology without them. Such proteins

* Hirsch index is a scientometric indicator suggested in 2005 by an American physicist, Jorse Hirsch. It denotes a cumulative number of references to a scientist's works. Used alongside the citation index.-Ed.

are used in pharmacology, in biomedical research, preclinical drug tests, neurobiology, immunology, oncology, and in other areas. These proteins help tracing tumor growth or observing how fish thinks.

Chudakov noted: "In leading countries hundreds of laboratories are working to create different fluorescent proteins and instruments based on them; this is true also of research carried out by Nobel prizewinner Roger Tsien. Competition is tough. And yet, in some areas we have managed to get ahead of our main competitors in the USA and Japan. A case in point is the far-red fluorescent protein Katyusha designed for visualization of cells deep in animal tissue."

Scientists tried hard to see what took place inside, say, of a living mouse without its dissection. The green, blue and orange fluorescent proteins known by 2007 could not solve this problem effectively, for their light is absorbed by tissue. Theoretically, there was some hope in the furthermost red color in the light range >630-650 nm. Unfortunately proteins within this range do not occur in nature. Although a number of laboratories have long been trying to register the far-red options, only Russian scientists have made a breakthrough.

"Without going into technology I can say only that in fact we were involved in combinatorics, or selection of appropriate libraries of options from scores of possible ones," Chudakov went on. "In such a case, only one

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correction in the DNA sequence resulting just in one amino-acid substitution, often caused changes in many biochemical and spectral characteristics of protein. It is impossible to sort out all options even in theory, our life is too short for that. We made certain calculations and rough estimates but relied mainly on intuition, experience and good luck multiplied by perseverance."

At present Katyusha is the best available built-in genetic marker for in-depth visualization of objects in a living tissue. It is used in global research of different processes on animal models and in antitumor pharmacology.

Two other prizewinners-Fyodor Ignatov, Cand. Sc. (Phys. & Math.), senior researcher of the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics (RAS Siberian Branch) and Korneliy Todyshev, research scientist of the same institute (in December of 2012 he defended a Cand. Sc. thesis in physics and mathematics) were awarded prizes in the field of elementary particles. This is probably the key mystery of the universe bearing on its creation. Today the Standard Model is at the root of this notion-this model is regarded as a breakthrough achievement of the 20th century. It is being checked upon at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC, CERN, Switzerland)*, where scientists are trying to ascertain if the Higgs boson responsible for a mass of elementary particles is

See: L. Smirnova, "Discoveries at the Large Hadron Collider", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2013.-Ed.

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trapped after all in this proof-of-concept test. For this purpose, particles are accelerated in this Cyclopean collider almost to light velocities and colliding, they split into billions of new particles. The Higgs boson is to be sought there.

Dr. Vladimir Blinov, laboratory head of the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics, adds in developing this line of reasoning: "But there is an essentially new approach when new, but not real particles originate like those in LHC. In fact, these are virtual particles appearing and disappearing at once-just memories of real particles. The highest measuring precision is needed to register them. We can do then without high-power accelerators, low energies will be enough."

Ignatov and Todyshev, Blinov says, have detected the probable origin of new heavy particles with topmost precision not achieved elsewhere so far. Besides, they have obtained the most exact result on the measured parameters of charmed mesons. This research may allow to build a credible picture of the universe.

Fyodor Ignatov has authored and coauthored more than 50 papers. In the USA he took part in an international project in measuring the muon abnormal magnetic moment. In Switzerland he is participating in an experiment in search of rare decompositions of the muon. Korneliy Todyshev has coauthored and published above 300 papers. He is taking part in an international cooperative study of β-meson physics in the USA.

Nadezhda Bokach, Dr. Sc. (Chem.), Associate Professor of St. Petersburg State University, was awarded a prize for her major contribution to methods of organic synthesis involving platinum and palladium. These met-

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als belong to key natural resources of Russia, their chemistry was always a priority to national science. Dr. Bokach has pioneered in demonstrating it is possible to carry out a number of new chemical reactions, in particular, of platinum with organic substances. Thus essentially new materials are obtained.

Nadezhda Bokach explains: "We carry out basic research by and large. The point is that platinum activates organic substances with which it enters into compounds and initiates reactions impossible without its participation. Some of the compounds thus obtained can be used in most different application domains. For example, they can be used in creating new medical drugs with a potent curative effect. New materials will be useful also in the chemical industry, first of all, as catalysts for production of siloxane rubber. Today they have dozens of application areas, in particular, heat and electric insulators, protective coatings, biocompatible polymers for implants, and so forth."

Nadezhda Bokach is a prizewinner of the European Academy and also the L'Oreal Award to outstanding women in science. She has authored over 60 papers and 5 reviews in prestige national and international journals. Her citation index is round 1,000 and Hirsch index-17.

The humanities are not bypassed either. Prof. Andrei Usachev of Russian State Humanities University was awarded a prize "for his contribution to studies of Old Russian book-learning of the 16th century". His works are devoted to national historiography and ideas current at that time on the origins of Russian statehood. He has studied literary monuments of that epoch, too. Usachev revises the traditional notion of Moscow being a "Third Rome". According to this scholar, Moscow was not as much influential in the Middle Ages as often depicted in the historico-political and philosophical literature of the latter half of the 19th-early 20th centuries.

Usachev also looked into the activities of Metropolitan Makarios under the young Tsar Ivan the Terrible. At that time a group of educated people in the retinue of the tzar (like Metropolitan Makarios, the tzar's confessor Andrei-Afanasiy) tried to inculcate certain ideas upon him and influence his temper by positive examples of the past. They compiled a Book of Royal Degrees which comprised 17 biographies of his predecessors. Those were ideal images of what a Russian monarch should be like. The young tzar was supposed to emulate Old Rus sovereigns who ruled in that ostensibly ideal period of Russian history.

Writers of the Makarian epoch drew attention to the heyday of the Old Rus power when her princes had levied tribute even on a proud Constantinople. It is significant that these biographies were written on the eve of oprichnina (special administrative elite established by Tsar Ivan) and were, in fact, an attempt of intellectuals of that time to prevent a fatal course of events by moral examples of the past. But Tsar Ivan the Terrible chose a different course.

Andrei Usachev studied also lists of little-known works of literature; he published important monuments of Old Russian book-learning never promulgated before, thus making them accessible to scholars. The results of his scholarly inquisitions are summarized in his capital monograph and in over 130 publications.

Yuri Medvedev, "All by Hirsch. Young RF Presidential Prize Winners in Science and Innovations for 2012", "Rossiiskaya gazeta", February 8, 2013

Illustrations from the RF Presidential Photo Service of the "Rossiiskaya gazeta" site, Presidium of the RAS Siberian Branch and Internet sources

Prepared by Sergei MAKAROV


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