Medication research is one of the current priorities for the University.
Konstantin Balakin, a renowned expert in pharmacy and biomedicine with more than 130 publications and the Chair of the recently opened Department of Medical Chemistry, speaks about his specialty.
- How pertinent is medical chemistry nowadays?
- It's one of the leading areas today, with medication sales rivalling that of the petroleum industry. It’s also a high-tech industry that is first in the number of innovations together with aerospace.
Medication developer is not just a chemist, a biologist or a physician, he is all these professional combined in one.
- Are there such programs in Russia today?
- There were none until pretty recently. Academician Nikolay Zefirov from Moscow State University put this problem forth on a national level. Medical chemistry first opened at MSU where such department was established last year. Kazan University is one of the first to catch the trend and now makes serious efforts to develop medical chemistry.
In Russia as a whole education in medical chemistry is still making first steps.
- So there were some preconditions in Kazan University that allowed to establish this department and now the masters program.
- Correct. Medication development is now one of the priorities for Kazan University. We have all the opportunities to attract world-class experts to our work. There is also a unified infrastructure - from the earliest steps to production. I don’t know any other examples in the world where a university has a full technological cycle of medication development: early research – pre-clinical trials – clinical phase – test production – industrial production.
- Will the masters program be based in several institutes?
- The Department of Medical Chemistry will lead, but other institutes will also be involved in this work.
When we were in the process of developing course programs, we understood that it's impossible to limit ourselves with lecturers from only one institute. Suffice it to say that we have such varying courses as organic chemistry, medical chemistry, biochemistry, chemistry and technology of medications, physiology of humans and animals, patent work, bioinformatics, computer modelling, pharmacology…
- You probably also plan to invite visiting experts from other institutions.
- Yes, there are people from scientific establishments of Kazan as well Nikolay Zefirov's team from MSU. There are also plans to invite people from Saint-Petersburg State Chemical-Pharmaceutical Academy, Baltic Federal University, and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.
- What about inviting foreign colleagues?
- Yes, there are such plans. It's the next step for us. We have personal contacts with our colleagues abroad, and it takes time to make this cooperation purposeful.
- What exams are there to enroll in the masters program?
- Organic chemistry and biochemistry. Plus there is an interview with program supervisor who will try to understand if the profession suits a candidate's profile.
- I guess prospective postgraduate students are interested in their job prospects.
- Kazan University has some really amazing projects in medication research. There are products that exceed current world standards, some molecules are indeed the products of new pharmacology. So our alumni will have the opportunity to stay at KFU and continue their research. We hope that our best students will remain here and we will do our best to involve them in real research work since day one.
But I can assure you that they will be in demand in Moscow, Paris, New York and everywhere in the world.
- Which types of medications are the focus of the University's work these days?
- Fifty percent of deaths in the world are caused by heart and coronary diseases. Other serious threats are cancers, infectious diseases, respiratory ailments, central nervous system disorders, and diabetes. So these are the areas where KFU puts its efforts. We sincerely hope that our products reach pharmacy shelves in a few years.