Arctic expedition launched new cooperation

News, 26 October 2022

The Laboratory of Neutron Physics JINR will cooperate with scientific and educational organizations of Saint Petersburg in the field of nuclear and physics method application in microbiological monitoring of the environment and complex epidemiological studies of diseases. Participants of the scientific seminar recently held at North-Western State Medical University named after I. I. Mechnikov (NWSMU) discussed prospects for the future cooperation.

Areas of mutual scientific interests were determined during the scientific and educational expedition “Arctic Floating University 2022: the Changing Arctic” in July this year. The participants of the expedition, the Advisor to the FLNP Directorate Marina Frontasyeva and Head of the Laboratory of Functional Genomics and Proteomics of Microorganisms of the Institute of Experimental Medicine in Saint Petersburg, Professor of the NWSMU Department of Epidemiology, Parasitology, and Disinfectology Artemiy Goncharov discussed possible areas of cooperation.

As the first practical step in the development of cooperation, a seminar was organized at NWSMU on 12 October, at which Marina Frontasyeva made a speech on neutron activation analysis in solving environmental and human health problems. The participants of the seminar were introduced to the opportunities of passing a student training and preparing their theses under the joint guidance of NWSMU and JINR scientists.

Head of the NWSMU Department of Epidemiology, Parasitology, and Desinfectology Professor B. I. Aslanov, Deputy Head of the NWSMU Faculty of Preventive Medicine Candidate of Medicine T. M. Chirkina, M. V. Frontasyeva, Doctor of Biology Professor A. E. Goncharov, senior researcher of the Laboratory of Molecular Epidemiology and Bacteriophages Candidate of Medicine D. V. Azarov

On the sidelines of the seminar, there was a work meeting of the Advisor to the FLNP Directorate with Head of the NWSMU Department of Epidemiology, Parasitology, and Desinfectology Doctor of Medicine Professor Batyrbek Aslanov. It resulted in the planned cooperation in the application of nuclear and physical analytical methods in microbiological monitoring of the environment.

“NWSMU employees are also interested in other methods of neutron physics that could be used for medical research purposes,” Marina Frontasyeva commented on the results of the visit. “Thus, for example, within the framework of the theme of the state task of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation “Development of principles of effective screening of antibiotic producing strains in the Arctic and Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems”, specialists thoroughly study unique ancient microbial communities of extremophiles of the polar regions of the Earth. These microorganisms are of significant interest as sources of new antibiotics and biologically active compounds.” According to the scientist, assessment of the accumulation of various chemical elements in these microbiomes, including rare earth ones, will make it possible to advance in understanding how their metabolic activity is realised and identify the characteristic features of enzymes produced by extremophiles.

Another promising area of cooperation is comprehensive epidemiological studies of diseases connected with environmental pollution, including polyethological diseases. “It is impossible to imagine the search for risk factors of the development of such diseases without uniting epidemiological data with the results of many years of environmental monitoring JINR possesses,” Marina Frontasyeva noted.