Архив метки: Alexander Kuleshov

The biggest mystery of our body can be solved with big data science

The most important and complex part of our body is our brain. Everything that happens in our body, goes through it. Humanity has learned quite a lot about the brain and how it functions, yet there is much much more to learn and discover. MRI and other technologies that were developed through the last decades, give us a lot of raw and coded data about the brain. The biggest challenge facing scientists is to decipher this data. On December 13th Skoltech and ENIGMA held the international workshop “Big Data and the Human Brain”, which presented how big data science can help us better understand our brain. As part of the workshop, the two sides discussed the concept of the joint Skoltech-ENIGMA Center to be inaugurated at Skotlech.

Skoltech President Alexander Kuleshov opens the workshop.

Skoltech President Alexander Kuleshov opens the workshop.

The ENIGMA Consortium is an international effort by leaders worldwide, to bring together researchers in imaging genomics, neurology and psychiatry, to understand brain structure and function, based on MRI, DTI, fMRI, genetic data and many patient populations.

The consortium was initiated at the University of Southern California (USC), and it now consists of over 280 institutions in 35 countries of the world. It combines the data, talents and infrastructure of over 700 scientists working on genome-wide, neuroimaging and clinical data from over 53,000 subjects. Skoltech scientists take part in this international effort.

Director of the ENIGMA Consortium, Paul Thompson, Ph.D.

Director of the ENIGMA Consortium, Paul Thompson, Ph.D.

Skoltech President Alexander Kuleshov opened the workshop with greetings to the participants, but didn’t waste time and invited the first speaker, Director of the ENIGMA Consortium, Paul Thompson, Ph.D., to deliver his presentation.

Dr. Thompson described the complexity of brain research and the efforts made by ENIGMA to understand how the brain works through combination of different mapping methods. He told the audience how this scientific network is connecting research centers around the world. The meta-analysis of information from different data centers, he said, will improve their efficiency.

Prof. Leyla Namazova, Chairman of the Russian Public Academy of Pediatrics.

Prof. Leyla Namazova, Chairman of the Russian Public Academy of Pediatrics.

After Dr. Thompson, it was Prof. Leyla Namazova – Chairman of the Russian Public Academy of Pediatrics, Vice-chairman of the Executive Committee Union of Pediatricians of Russia, and an Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences – who described brain initiatives in Russia, and spoke on her experience of working in pediatrics with ENIGMA-produced data. Prof Namazova was among the organizers of the ENIGMA workshop “Neuroscience in Pediatrics” that was held in the Scientific Center of Children’s Health on December 11-12.

Skoltech Prof. Philipp Khaitovich presents project CoBrain.

Skoltech Prof. Philipp Khaitovich presents project CoBrain.

Next it was Skoltech’s turn to present its part in the research of the brain. First came Prof. Philipp Khaitovich, Associate Director of Skoltech Center for Data Intensive Biomedicine and Biotechology, and described project CoBrain – a large-scale analysis of the brain lipidome in healthy aging and brain disorders – from the point of view of biology. After him came Mikhail Belyaev, a research scientist at Skoltech Center for Computational and Data-Intensive Science and Engineering, who presented the computational point of view of how to analyze Neuroimaging data using big data and deep learning.

Renowned Russian-American scientist, Skoltech Prof. Vladimir Zelman.

Renowned Russian-American scientist, Skoltech Prof. Vladimir Zelman.

The second part of the workshop was opened by Prof. Vladimir Zelman. Prof. Zelman, a renowned Russian-American scientist, and one of the pioneers of neuroanesthesia, is the bridge that connects USC and Skoltech, since he is a professor in both institutions. He spoke about Innovations in Translational Neuroscience, Neurosurgery and Brain Computer Interfaces.

His presentation was followed by Prof. Henrik Walter, a world renowned expert in psychiatry, Professor for Psychiatry, Psychiatric Neuroscience and Neurophilosophy at the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany. Prof. Walter spoke about functional brain connectivity, imaging, and psychiatry.

Prof. Hilleke Hulshoff Pol, chair of ENIGMA-Plasticity.

Prof. Hilleke Hulshoff Pol, chair of ENIGMA-Plasticity.

The last speaker of the day was Prof. Hilleke Hulshoff Pol, world renowned expert in genetics of the human brain, Professor of Neuroscience at the Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands. Prof. Hulshoff Pol, who is also the chair of ENIGMA-Plasticity, talked about international genetic studies of the human brain.

At the end of the workshop, Prof. Zelman described the ties between ENIGMA and Russia: “the brain is so complicated that not only one lab, institute, or university can solve this mystery. It’s really an international magnum effort to find out about human cerebrum.  This is the reason that when we had this ENIGMA at USC, I immediately proposed to Dr. Thompson “let’s go out, we need mathematicians and Russia is famous about mathematicians for centuries”. We immediately contacted Dr. Kuleshov, and he responded very positively. We also contacted Academic City in Novosibirsk, and in three years we developed more interesting projects than 35 other countries in our network. We found support and understanding. This conference is the result of a three-year cooperation. From now on we will have yearly conferences, and I would like it to be not only in Moscow.

The strategic partnership is between USC and Skoltech. Skoltech is a vibrant new kind of university, and I believe it will play a major role as a bridge between countries, not only the United States and Russia, but all over the world. It’s new but it’s already growing”.

Big future starts with nanomaterials – Skoltech lab of nanomaterials was officially opened

lnm-logoA festive spirit filled Skoltech today, for the occasion of the official opening of the Laboratory of Nanomaterials at the Center of Photonics and Quantum Materials. Well-dressed and with big smiles on their faces, the lab team, headed by Professor Albert Nasibulin, welcomed the hundred chemists, physicists, scientific entrepreneurs, students and Skolkovo Foundation executives, who came to take part in the event.

Before the official opening, the guests who arrived from across Russia, Austria, USA and Finland, attended a seminar titled “Carbon nanomaterials for future applications”. The Seminar was opened with a welcome address by Skoltech President Alexander Kuleshov, and Vice president for strategy and industrial cooperation, Alexey Ponomarev, who praised prof. Nasibulin as “the first to carry out serious research experiments at Skoltech, the first to bring the industry, and the first to open a serious lab”.

In his speech, Nasibulin apologized for speaking longer than the other speakers, but he had a good excuse: “I am the host today”, as he said and laughed. He started with presenting Skoltech in generally, and the Center of Photonics and Quantum Materials in particular. Nasibulin emphasized the uniqueness of Skoltech: “our goal is to change the students’ way of thinking. We want to make them entrepreneurs and they will start their own companies”.

Later he presented the lab and its mission: to carry out high impact scientific and applied research based on nanomaterials to gain international recognition as a laboratory for the research excellence. The main aim, according to Nasibulin, is to generate innovation and commercialization of scientific results produced in the laboratory. Immediately after that, he elaborated on the applied research being done at the lab, the latest example of which is the novel fully stretchable all-solid supercapacitors based on single-walled carbon nanotubes.

Skoltech President Alexander Kuleshov and Professor Albert Nasibulin cutting the ribbon.

Skoltech President Alexander Kuleshov and Professor Albert Nasibulin cutting the ribbon.

The seminar continued until the early evening, with lectures about the exceptional features of Carbon Nanotubes, and the different applications derived from these features, in numerous areas. Finally, the big moment has arrived, and the distinguished group made its way to the ceremony. The ribbon was stretched, so President Kuleshov and Prof. Nasibulin would cut it to the cheers of the crowed, and the tour in the new lab has begun.

Dr. Yury Gladush gives the guests a tour in the new lab.

Dr. Yury Gladush gives the guests a tour in the new lab.

As in space, so on Earth: Skoltech’s Rupert Gerzer on aerospace medicine and creative freedom

Dr. Rupert Gerzer came to work at Skoltech one year ago as an associate director of the research university’s Space Center, but as a qualified medical doctor, he does not hide the fact that his heart lies in medicine.

Dr. Rupert Gerzer pictured outside Skoltech at the university's graduation ceremony this summer. Photo: Sk.ru.

Dr. Rupert Gerzer pictured outside Skoltech at the university’s graduation ceremony this summer. Photo: Sk.ru.

“I am fascinated by space life sciences, but this is only a part of medicine,” says the German professor, an expert on the effects of spaceflight on the human body.

For this reason, Gerzer – now provost of the university – is particularly enthusiastic about the new international medical cluster being built at the Skolkovo innovation center, and hopes that the university will play a key role in the development of the cluster.

“This will be a major thing for Skoltech,” he says. “Skoltech already has a program focusing on biomedicine, and this will be something with practical applications on the ground at Skolkovo.”

Gerzer did not have to think for long when he was offered a job at Skoltech, a private graduate research university that was founded in 2011 in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“It was very simple, I retired from my position [as director of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine] in Germany and a colleague and good friend from MIT said: ‘Well Rupert, you’re retiring, wouldn’t you be interested in going to Skoltech?’ I didn’t know anything about Skoltech then. Then I met [Skoltech’s founding president, MIT aeronautics professor] Ed Crawley and it looked very interesting, so I decided to try it out, and now I’ve been here a year, and hope to be able to stay for many years,” he says.

All roads lead to Moscow

Gerzer had long been visiting Russia, having collaborated with a cardiology center in Moscow in the ’80s as a university researcher and with the Institute of Biomedical Problems – the leading space medicine and space life sciences institute in Russia – since the 90s.

“I was here at least once a year since the beginning of the 90s,” he says. “I saw the whole change [in the political system], everything, and I liked Russia more and more, so when I was asked if I would like to come here, I was very excited, and I still am, it was the right decision.”

A crucial factor in his enthusiasm is the most important aspect of the university: the students.

“Excellent students are attracted to come to Skoltech, which is a good sign,” says Gerzer.

“The reputation among the student community is here already,” he added, saying that during the most recent admissions procedure, many students had cited Skoltech’s practical programs as the reason they wanted to study here. A key part of the university’s ethos is that it does not just teach students science, but instils in them a sense of entrepreneurship and inspires them to find a practical application for their science and tech skills.

Gerzer remains a professor of the Skoltech Space Center, but is happy to be focusing on his role of provost – essentially the deputy head of the university – this term. It was a strategic decision by the university’s management to have a foreign provost now that Skoltech’s president is a Russian: Alexander Kuleshov, who took over from Crawley earlier this year. It demonstrates “that it’s an international university,” says Gerzer.

“I think it’s a good decision because I can still look at things from the outside,” he says, adding that while Kuleshov decides the general strategy of the university, Gerzer supports him in aspects such as international collaboration.

Gerzer pictured with German astronaut Dr. Reinhold Ewald, who gave a lecture to Skoltech students earlier this year.

Gerzer pictured with German astronaut Dr. Reinhold Ewald, who gave a lecture to Skoltech students earlier this year.

Doctor without borders

The path from medicine to specializing in human spaceflight is not, perhaps, the most obvious one.

“I was not a space enthusiast, but simply a doctor and a scientist,” says Gerzer, who spent many years after medical school doing research.

“One of the questions I had during that research was whether this [certain tasks] could be solved in human spaceflight, in weightlessness,” he says. His success in this field led him to be offered the post of director of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine, part of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne.

During more than 20 years at the space institute, his interests remained firmly on the ground.

“I’m a scientist and I like to find out how humans function and what science can do to improve human health,” says Gerzer.

“Human spaceflight is part of this. When I was director of the Institute of Space Medicine, I always focused the work of the institute on questions where we can learn something from space medicine for regular medicine,” he said, adding that he accordingly discouraged his staff from doing applied research focusing specifically on astronauts.

“My philosophy was: this should be done by the countries that have spacecraft, by Russians and Americans, and not by Western Europe, because if I had found something that was only an improvement in how to care for astronauts, the Americans and the Russians would be happy that the Germans spent their money on helping them,” explains Gerzer.

“I think this way of thinking is now deep in the German space program. Human spaceflight in all countries is always being criticized [for its cost], but there is very little criticism in Germany now, because we could always say we were doing something good for medicine in general, and for our understanding of how we function.

Founding father

Gerzer’s rich experience in the study of human spaceflight has already borne fruit at Skoltech. Earlier this year, Skoltech signed a memorandum of understanding with the DLR, and two students will soon head to Germany to work on collaborative projects with the center, said Gerzer. In addition, Skoltech’s students have the chance to contribute to a brand new journal, REACH – Reviews in Human Space Exploration, founded by Gerzer this summer.

The professor had the idea for a journal offering an overview of all aspects of spaceflight several years ago, but it took time to convince the publishing house to invest in it, he says, laughing.

“There’s no real journal where anyone who’s interested in what’s going on in human spaceflight can find an overview of the whole field,” he explains. “There are many specialized journals, but you have to be an expert to know which journal to look for.”

REACH aims to change this, and in the first issue of the quarterly publication, Gerzer gave his students the chance to publish an article on what should be done after the International Space Station ceases its activity in a few years’ time.

“Young students are the future, and when they are in industry or a government agency or science, they are not free anymore to say what they think should be done – they will be free only 20 years later when they are leaders, but not in the first 20 years when many of them just have to shut their mouths and work, so I gave them the opportunity to be creative and say what they think should be done,” says Gerzer.

“Should humans fly to Mars, or should they build the next Space Station, because that’s so much closer to Earth? Should they land on the moon, should they build a space station around the moon, what should they do? They [the students] had to analyze what different nations have published, and then condense it and give their own opinion. And it’s a very interesting paper,” he added.

Gerzer also has experience in another of Skoltech’s areas of focus: inspiring scientists to turn their knowledge into businesses. He has founded two companies: Temos, a growing international company that provides ratings of hospitals and medical facilities in countries seeking to improve their medical standards, and a smaller company focusing on applications developed for space that could find a market on Earth.

“We’re currently considering founding a subsidiary [of the latter] here at Skolkovo, because students should have the opportunity to do so [start their own business], and it’s in the Skoltech strategy. I think it would be good to found companies that stay in Russia,” says Gerzer.

With his academic work, the new journal, his companies and occasional guest lectures in Germany, Gerzer’s timetable is a far cry from retirement – and that’s fine by him.

“It’s not boring, but I don’t want it to be boring,” he smiles.

Text: Shura Collinson, Sk.ru

Skoltech’s Academic Council has met for the first time

“We have waited a long time for this. Now we can actually say that we started to work on our entity”. In these words, Skoltech President Alexander Kuleshov opened the first meeting of the Academic Council that was held in Skoltech’s top-notch CEDL.

The Academic Council is a new stage in Skoltech development, and a part of an overall change in the management model in accordance with the shared governance principle. The council is a collegial management body performing general governance of educational, research and innovational activities of Skoltech. The Academic Council will have the decision power in the following areas: Research and Innovation: development and approval of general strategy, establishment, reorganization and termination of programs, evaluation of the results of research and innovation activities, and approval of basic terms of Russian and international academic partnerships; Education: determination of the basic principles of education and teaching process, approval of educational programs, and determination of the requirements for applicants and graduates; Faculty: determination of the requirements for faculty and research staff positions, appointment and promotion of faculty.

The Academic Council is consisted of 19 members, out of which three are administrators – President Alexander Kuleshov, the Provost, Prof. Rupert Gerzer and Alexander Safonov, VP for Academic Relations, who is the academic secretary of the council. Other members are seven professors, who were elected by their colleagues: Iskander Akhatov, Alexei Buchahenko, Boris Fine, Clément Fortin, Ildar Gabitov, Artem Oganov and Keith Stevenson. The remaining nine are external members, prominent scientists, representatives of business and representatives of the Skolkovo Foundation: Jean Botti, Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer at Philips, Alexander Fertman, Director of Nuclear Science and Advanced manufacturing cluster at Skolkovo Foundation, Grigory Kabatyanski, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Andrei Okunkov, the Fields Medal winner, Professor of Mathematics, Columbia University, Pavel Pevzner, Professor of Computer Science and Director of the NIH Center for Computational Mass Spectrometry, University of California, Valeri Rubakov, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Full Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Galina Tsirlina, Doctor of Sciences, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Edward Crawley, MIT Professor and Skoltech’s founding President, and Nikolay Kudryavtsev, the rector of the Moscow Physical-Technical Institute.

ac-1st-meeting-3The purpose of the first meeting was to officially begin the Council’s work with selecting chairmen for the key committees and discussing the evaluation process of Skoltech’s centers of research, education and innovation (CREIs). The elected committee chairmen are: Clément Fortin, the Dean of Education will be the chairman of the Educational committee, Provost Rupert Gerzer will be the chairman of the Faculty Appointment committee, and Iskander Akhatov will be the chairman of the Committee on research programs and projects (R&I).

The substantial part of the meeting was the discussion about the evaluation process of the CREIs, as presented by the Council member Gregory Kabatiansky. The evaluation process is the beginning of an expert assessment of the functioning of the CREIs. At this stage of Skoltech’s development, it is important to evaluate the preliminary results of the work of the centers in order to plan further a sustainable research development. This project is expected to involve about 100 scientists from the world’s leading research centers. The project also involves leaders of industrial and business communities. According to the results, the experts will present their recommendations to the leadership of the Institute.


The Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) is a private graduate research university in Skolkovo, Russia, a suburb of Moscow. Established in 2011 in collaboration with MIT, Skoltech educates global leaders in innovation, advances scientific knowledge, and fosters new technologies to address critical issues facing Russia and the world. Applying international research and educational models, the university integrates the best Russian scientific traditions with twenty-first century entrepreneurship and innovation.https://www.skoltech.ru/

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“Now you are facing the new stage of your life” – welcome Skoltech Class of 2018!

Skoltech’s class of 2018 made its first step into the academic year. About 130 new students came to Skoltech today for orientation day – to fill the relevant documents, to get acquainted with the procedures and policies, with the educational program, and to interact with their new classmates. Читать далее

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Skoltech hosted a delegation from Gazprom’s Department of perspective development

The delegation, headed by Gazprom member of the Management Board and head of the Perspective Department, Oleg Aksyutin, was acquainted with the infrastructure of the Skolkovo Innovation Center, and discussed possible areas of cooperation with Skoltech CREIs and Skolkovo resident companies. Читать далее

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Skoltech and TsAGI discussed possible cooperation

At the end of July, the delegation of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) headed by a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, rector Alexander Kuleshov, visited the Central AeroHydrodynamic Institute named after professor N.E. Zhukovsky (part of the National Research Center ‘Institute named after N.E.Zhukovsky‘).

2_2[175] 6d8140c5a6b04dd9252cc01db5372995The visit was organized to become familiar with the experimental facilities of the Russian aviation science center and discuss areas of cooperation. Specifically, TsAGI’s software was considered as a potential element in the development of aircraft equipment. Among them is EWT-TsAGI — the Electronic Wind Tunnel — which is intended to conduct computational aerodynamics tests. The conversation was also focused on enhancement of high-lift system and cruise aircraft arrangement, design of aircraft preliminary configuration, etc.

One of the Institute’s principal systems for wind-tunnel tests — the transonic wind tunnel — was demonstrated to Skoltech representatives. The delegation attended the sites intended for research of aircraft strength issues — the static and endurance test rooms.

The Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute named after N.E. Zhukovsky (TsAGI) was founded on December 1, 1918 under the initiative and leadership of N.E. Zhukovsky, the father of Russian Aviation. Today TsAGI is the largest scientific research center in the world. Under the Russian Federation Government Decree No.247 of March 29, 1994 TsAGI was designated a State Research Center.

Photos by: http://minpromtorg.gov.ru

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A delegation from “Bashneft” visited Skoltech

On July 13, 2016, in accordance with the agreements made during the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, a representative delegation of PJSC “Bashneft“, headed by the President and the Chairman of the Board of PJSC “Bashneft” Alexander Corsica, visited the Skolkovo Innovation Center and Skoltech. Читать далее

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