The Gene Wars ; Science, Politics, and the Human Genome Robert Cook-Deegan

Chronology Genesis of the Human Genome Project


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Russian, genome research in, p. 190-95, 211:


Russian participation in the Human Genome Project  got off to a rocky start.

The instigator of the Russian program was Alexander Bayev, who was in exile from Russia when Watson and Crick published their work on the structure of DNA. The USSR had few scientists who could appreciate the achievements of molecular biology. In the 1960s, with the effort of Bayev’s mentor, Vladimir Englehardt,  molecular biology became an accepted discipline.



One of Bayev’s students, Andrei Mirzabekov, was permitted to study in the West, and became  a link between the USSR and world molecular biology. Through the 1970s and 80s,  Bayev and Mirzabekov continued to work at the Institute  of Molecular Biology in Moscow, now called the  Englehardt institute.


Bayev and Mirzabekov became the champions of the USSR genome project in 1986. The project benefited from the new Gorbachev policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring of science including biotechnology to national economic goals). The first step was to bring soviet molecular biology up to world class standards. A soviet genome project met opposition in the Russian Academy of Sciences until 1989. Then it got more support, but was again threatened, but spared, in the hard transition from a communist to a capitalist economy. Although science declined through 1992, the genome program was given a budget under the Russian Academy of Sciences, and was relatively well off.


In summary, the Russian National Genome Program was constantly struggling to keep up with world standards.