Molecular and Theoretical Biology School
The Dmitry Zimin Dynasty Foundation has held the molecular and theoretical biology school since 2012.
Beginning in 2013, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has also been supporting the school.
The school program is oriented to upper-grade school students and is designed to integrate the participants into the research process at laboratories.
The school will be held in Pushchino, Moscow Oblast, 4–20 August 2015.
The school students who want to participate in the 2015 school should acquaint themselves with the main provisions of the school.
A 2015 application includes a letter of recommendation. Therefore, it is important that the recommendation part of the application should be ompleted promptly.
Applications are submitted electronically from 2 March to 10 April 2015.
Read the information on the school website carefully before completing the application.
Applications are accepted from school students (including students finishing 11 grade this year) who are Russian citizens or live on the territory of the Russian Federation.
The school program is generally oriented to the upper-grade level of knowledge.
Students who have not started the ninth grade should write a separate commentary on their knowledge of molecular biology and their estimate of the possibility of adequate interaction with upper-grade students.
The first molecular and theoretical biology school was held at the Pushchino RAS Scientific Center laboratories 13–28 August 2012 on the initiative of the Dynasty Foundation.
Sixty-six school children from various Russian cities including Irkutsk, Chelyabinsk, Kaliningrad, Pushchino, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Krasnoyarsk participated in the school.
Fifty adults—laboratory workers, camp leaders, and school organizers—worked with the children.
Russian scientists from leading research centers of the world taught at the school: Dmitry Ivankov (Technical University of Munich, Germany), Pyotr Vlasov (Center for Genome Regulation, Spain), Evgeny Rogaev (University of Massachusetts, USA, Institute of General Genetics, RAS, and Mental Health Research Center, RAMS), Vladimir Katanaev (Institute of Protein Research, RAS, and University of Lausanne, Switzerland), Feodor Kondrashov (Center for Genomic Regulation, Spain), and others.
World-famous scientists—Konstantin Severinov, Mikhail Gelfand, Evgeny Rogaev, Maksim Krongauz, and Aleksey Kondrashov—lectured on biology, bioinformatics, biochemistry, and even language.
Students could broaden their knowledge of mathematics, programming, and other disciplines.
The humanities part of the school was of great interest: there were courses for learning to discourse on various topics with a literary text or piece of modern art taken as a base and for learning to listen to one another and participate in discussions.
But the most important part of the summer school was actual research work in real scientific labs. The high school children learned the practical problems that scientists are currently solving.
Half of the work time was dedicated to science projects.
Altogether 9 labs were organized at the school
(4 experimental and 5 theoretical):
- Laboratory of Genetics
- Laboratory of Rational Medication Design
- Laboratory of Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology
- Laboratory of Protein Physics
- Laboratory of Mathematical Analysis
- Laboratory of Biophysics and Biochemistry
- Laboratory of Bioinformatics
- Laboratory of Evolutionary Genomics.
Having chosen a lab, students worked on science projects under the guidance of famous scientists. Students obtained specific theoretical and practical results in each project.
For example, one group studied the retinin protein, which is responsible for formation of antireflective corneal nano-structures in the eyes of insects. Students compared insect nanocoatings and cloned retinin-like genes to transplant them to the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) and thus create an artificial nanocoating.
Another group identified the influence of various medical herb extracts on a mouse fibroblast culture and found that the Rhodiola rosea disrupts the actin cytoskeleton. This finding is important for continuing research for extracting the active component of this plant as a potential anti-inflammatory and antimetastatic medicine.
Using the computer docking method, Pyotr Vlasov's group (Laboratory of Rational Medication Design) selected substances that can regulate the Wnt cascade, crucial in tumor cell development.
The school was closed with presentations of the obtained results.
The school children went home 28 August, but each of them now has a “personal adviser” who is a scientist and who can answer questions and recommend what to read and where to move further.
These are some results of the research:
- Study of the biological activity of plant extracts (presentation in pdf, 4,5 MB)
- Investigation of nanostructures on the surface of the eye of arthropods (presentation in pdf, 10,5 MB)
- Prediction of the most promising small molecule ligand for multiple target proteins (presentation in pdf, 410 KB)
The school was organized by the Dynasty Foundation with support from the Institute of Protein Research (RAS) and the Laboratory of Evolutionary Genomics at the Center for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona, Spain.
The Dynasty Foundation thanks all who helped make the work of the school successful:
Lev Pavlovich Ovchinnikov
Simon El'evich Shnoll
- Evolutionary Genomics Laboratory at the Center for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona (Spain)
- Institute of Protein Research (RAS)
- Laboratory of Functional Genomics and Cellular Stress, Institute of Cell Biophysics (RAS)
- Moscow Center for Continuous Mathematical Education
- Softline Company, for providing MathWorks software
- Pushchino Winter School, for organizational support
- Pushchino Art School
- Internet portal Polit.Ru, for informational support
- Faculty of Innovation and High Technology, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.
Eighty high-school students elected on a competitive basis, including ten students from Spain, and approximately one hundred adults—famous scientists, teachers, and organizers—participated in the school.
Experiments in biology, solution of simple and complex problems, and joint work of high school students and scientists constituted the third school of molecular and theoretical biology held in Pushchino 5–21 August 2014.
Like last year, the school program included lectures on biology, bioinformatics, and biochemistry given by world-famous scientists, and the most important part of the school was actual research work in real scientific laboratories.