Central to its research mission, Skoltech is founding 15 multidisciplinary Centers for Research, Innovation and Education (CREIs), which will address critical problems facing industry and society, particularly in a Russian context. These centers are key components in building capacity at the university, including world-class research teams, instruments, and facilities. Along with the leadership from Skoltech, each center will include an international slate of research partners from a Russian university or institute and a non-Russian university.
Each CREI is selected in line with the Skoltech research strategy after an international peer review panel evaluates all proposals, semi-finalists present their ideas in person, and the Skoltech Board of Trustees approves the winning proposals. In the first round of applications, 120 projects from 360 universities and research institutes in 20 countries competed for the opportunity to create a CREI.
Among the applications, six Nobel Laureates and one Fields medalist participated. After long deliberation by an international committee, the first three projects were approved: The Center for Stem Cell Research, the Biomedical Engineering Center, and the Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage.
The Center for Stem Cell Research was the first to be launched. Skoltech announced its creation on April 8, 2013, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Amsterdam. Skoltech President Edward Crawley, Folkert Kuipers, Dean of Medicine at the University of Groningen (the Netherlands), and Nikolai Yankovsky, Director of the Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, participated in the signing of agreement. Apart from these institutions, Hubrecht Institute (the Netherlands) and Whitehead Institute (the USA) are also participating in the project.
The Skoltech Center for Stem Cell Research is positioning itself to become one of the global leaders in the field of stem cell research. Researchers are currently planning to study how to create transplantable stem cells from induced pluripotent cells. They also hope to develop patient specific cellular systems for drug screening and determine preclinical safety and efficacy of cellular-based therapies for handover to existing and new start up biomedicine companies.
Professor Anton Berns, Director of the Centre for Stem Cell
Research Director of the Center that unites leading researchers from multiple disciplines, from chemistry and biology to medicine, from technology to computer science, needed for progress in such complex problems, while at the same time educating a new generation of researchers.
One of the world’s leading scientists in using genetically modified mice to study cancer. For over 30 years, Berns has used viruses as a key tool for cancer research, a strategy which in turn has led to the identification of over 600 genes associated with this disease.
The Skoltech Biomedical Engineering Center was created second. The CREI will focus on both fundamental and translational research of the major infectious diseases (ID) with the annual number of infections in the hundreds of millions, namely tuberculosis (TB), influenza, and viral hepatitis. The research team consists of scientists from globally renowned universities and includes members of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, National Academy of Engineering of the USA, Institute of Medicine, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, and MSU
Professor Victor Kotelianski, Director of the Biomedical Engineering Centre
Researchers within the group are also founders of more than 20 companies that have achieved market success. Victor Kotelianski, a renowned scientist in biomedicine, was appointed Director of this CREI. He has authored about 200 scientific publications and many patents.