A.N. Belozersky considered that the important advantage of such a scientific research centre within the framework of Moscow University lies in the possibility to join the efforts of biologists, chemists, physicists and mathematicians in this scientific organization. This idea was warmly supported by a number of out- standing scientists of Moscow State University - by the Presidents of the University Academician I.G. Petrovsky, Academicians S.E. Severin and I.M. Gelfand, Correspondent-members of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences M.A. Prokofiev and I.V. Berezin and others. One more idea of Belozersky was to approach studies on the physico- chemical biology as wide as possible, which was in contrast to academic institutes which often suffer because of "ideological monopoly". This is why the Institute is composed of many small scientific departments covering, in fact, all the major branches of the modern physico-chemical biology. Among them there are departments of Nucleis Acid Chemistry (headed by Dr. Z.A. Shabarova), Nucleoproteins (A.A. Bogdanov), Protein Chemistry (A.A. Baykov), Plant Virology (J.G. Atabekov), Virus-Cell Interactions (V.I. Agol), Bioenergetics (V.P. Skulachev), Photosynthesis (A.Yu. Borisov), Photobiophysics (V.A. Shuvalov), Novel Biophysical Methods (L.A. Drachev), Mathematical Methods in Biology (I.M. Gelfand), Functional Biochemistry (B.F. Poglazov), Evolutionary Biochemistry (A.S. Antonov), Biochemistry of Ontogenesis (B.F. Vanyushin), Animal Cell Biochemistry (G.A. Kochetov), Enzymology (P.P. Philippov), Biokinetics (S.A. Varfolomeev). Besides these 16 research departments, the Institute includes 6 service departments namely of Electron Microscopy (Yu.S. Chentsov), Isotopes (G.Ya. Kolomiytseva), Sedimentation Analysis (V. Ya.Chernyak), Chromatography (L.A. Baratova), Spectroscopy (A.M. Arutunyan), and Scientific Information (Z.G. Zalesova), each carrying out scientific investigations in its own field of research.
The total number of scientific and technicians are now about 200 and 150, respectively.
The scientific work of the Institute is directed by the Scientific Council and its day-to-day work is directed by the Scientific-technical Council, elected by research workers and the Institute body, respectively.
Scientific subjects of the Institute traditionally form part of programmes elaborated according to government resolutions. At present the Institute takes part in the working-out of four State Science and Technology Programmes.
The engineer and material ensuring of the scientific researches is successfully carried out by the Engineer maintenance service (EMS) of Building "A" of MSU, established by A.S. Nazarov and headed for many years by V.V. Tsvetkov.
From the first day of its foundation the Institute has become an important educational centre of Moscow University. It has close relations with 4 departments of the Biological Faculty and 2 departments of the Chemical Faculty. The members of the Institute staff deliver lectures and carry on practical training for students of these Faculties. Every year about 100 postgraduates and under- graduate students working on their graduation theses study in the Institute.
The Institute maintains widespread international relations. The scientists cooperate with their colleagues from Italy. USA, France, GDR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria. In 1989 the Institute was included in the network of UNESCO basic institutes working in the field of physico-chemical biology.
The main direction of research: the structure, mechanism of action and regulation of thiamine and NAD - dependent enzymes.
The main areas of research are structure and expression of different groups of plant viruses genomes, mechanisms of plant virus infection transport and development of virus identification methods.
Studies on the energy trunsductions in the biomembranes are the main topics of the department.
Our main task is to explore the mechanisms of biochemical reactions by the methods of physical chemistry and chemical kinetics.
The nature of enzymatic catalysis is one of the key problems of research. In 1967-1975 a large series of works on the physico- chemical grounds of biological catalysis and on scientific ground of Enzyme Engineering was carried out under Professor I.V. Berezin.
The results of our research into the basic and applied aspects of biocatalysis merited a Lenin Prize in 1982 (I.V. Berezin and K. Martinek) and USSR State Prizes in 1984 (S.D. Varfolomeev, A.A. Klyosov and V.K. Svedas).
The main subject of our research work is to study the structure and mechanisms of the formation of biologically active complexes of nucleic acids and proteins.
The main scientific area: the study of structural organization and functioning of biological macromolecules.
Research Consultant: Prof. Yu.S. Chentsov
The main task of our Electron Microscopy Department is to assist other divisions and research groups of the A.N. Belozersky Institute. We are also engaged in independent research.
Since 1982 scientific interests of the ENzymology Department have been focused upon the functionally significant proteins of a photoreceptor cell. In more general terms, this work involves visual signal transduction, amplification and regulation.
Scientific interests: genosystematics (DNA-systematics) of prokaryotes and eukaryotes, theory of molecular evolution.
This department is one of the oldest in the A.N.Belozersky Institute and includes 5 different groups.
In the department of Mathematical Methods in Biology studies of the following main directions are carried out: mathematics and its applications in medicine; physiological mechanisms controlling movements in vertebrates and invertebrates; morphogenetic reactions of normal and transformed cells.
On these directions main important results are achieved by the collaborators of the department:
The goal of the projects carried out by Department is to understand thee regulatory mechanisms of gene expression and cell differentiation, in particular, under the action of various hormones. Main groups:
The main direction of the department - the investigation of the photobiological energy converters - rhodopsin and chlorophosphyll- protein complexes.
The procedures of solid-phase synthesis of oligonucleotides elaborated in our section in 1975-1980 as well as the respective laboratory instrumentation designed by us were used with much success for manufacturing a Soviet gene synthesizer, "Victoria", (Novosibirsk Company), commercially available since 1982.
This apparatus has enabled us to explore in the following areas:
This department comprises two independent groups: those of scientific and scientific-methodical studies.
The scientific group was set up in 1986 year under prof. V.A. Shuvalov as department head.
The other group, the scientific-methodic one, has been in operation since the foundling of the A.N. Belozersky Institute. It develops new methods of spectral measurements and runs the Institute's optical cabinet. The cabinet is equipped with many high-precision spectral instruments, enabling to realise numerous methods of research: difference double-beam and double wave-length spectrophotometry, spectrofluorometry, circular dichroism, stopflow measurements, derivative spectrophotometry, etc.
The main result of the methodical work (V.I. Sidelnikov, M.A. Nifontova) has been the derivative spectrophotometry method developed for biological objects. In the course of the studies of the spectral information processing problem, a method for calculating high-order derivative spectra has been developed. The method provides for high reliability of the resulting data and allows to apply an automatic derivative spectroscopy procedure; it makes it possible to calculate 16--20 order spectra, a result unattainable by the conventional method of derivative spectroscopy. Also, a method for determining complex spectrum components parameters, based on derivative spectrophotometry data has been developed.
The main efforts of the scientific group are concentrated on the primary photosynthetic processes. Some investigations - which is a good tradition of the Institute - are carried our jointly with other departments of the Institute and of other research institutions, such as the Soil Science and Photosynthesis Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the Physical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of Estonia and other.
The aim of most studies carried out in the department has been the mechanisms of action of enzymes that hydrolyze and synthesize phosphoric acid anhydrides.
The Department of Radioisotope Analyses is a scientific- methodological laboratory that supports research involving radioactive isotopes.
One of our tasks is to acquaint with A.N. Belozersky Institute workers with theoretical and practical aspects of radioactivity measurement procedures so as to ensure proper employment of sophis- ticated instrumentation for counting of radioactivity. Besides we are made delivery of radioisotope compounds and dosimetric control; updating the radioactivity measurement methods; introduction of modern methods either devised by us or reported in international scientific journals. We also study the structure and function of deoxyribonucleoproteins, which is one of the most essential problems in modern molecular biology.
Our department is mainly concerned with the information support of the research work done in the A.N. Belozersky Institute - above all, with the goal-oriented scientific programs. Our work involves a comprehensive approach. We apply the present day forms and methods of information servicing, including reviews of original scientific periodicals, current documentation, press proofs, reference journals, etc. We are hooked to the data-base terminals of the All- Union Institute of Scientific and Technical Information and, through the USSR National Centre for Automated Data Exchange, to network and data banks abroad.
The sedimentation analysis department is a scientific and methodological department of the A.N. Belozersky Institute founded simultaneously will the laboratory. The aim of our department is to provide methodic and technical assistance for investigations on analytical ultracentrifuges. The department can apply an array of the essential methods of sedimentation analyses: velocity sedimentation, sedimentation equillibrium, active enzyme sedimentation, as well as their modifications.
The focus of the scientific research in the department has been on the following areas:
The main topic of research: the molecular biology of RNA- containing animal viruses (mainly, of picornaviruses).