St Petersburg University has entered for the first time the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018 for Medicine. Each year, the rankings analyse over 2,000 universities worldwide. Having your university ranked in the QS World University Rankings means excellence in education.

The University entered the rankings as it has successfully improved its positions in Biomedicine and Human Health as one of the priority areas to develop in the SPbU’s Strategic Plan. Among the key areas the University has improved is the University’s Clinic, state-of-the-art research laboratories, educational programmes and simulation technologies in education, and continuing medical education. These are just few of the reasons that could help students, general practitioners, and researchers opt for SPbU to study, make research, and work.

Excellence in medical education

SPbU offers several degrees in medicine: specialist degree programme in Medicine and Dentistry and a degree in secondary professional education in Nursing.

The duration of study for students in Medicine and Dentistry is five and six years correspondingly. The curriculum in Medicine features over 45 courses: microbiology, virology, immunology, catastrophe medicine, surgery, reanimation, forensic medicine, while the students in Dentistry study public dental health, prevention, prosthetic dentistry, and otorhinolaryngology to name but a few. The students in Nursing study at the medical College at the University. The duration of study is 3 years and 9 months. Studying at the University’s Clinic and state-of-the-art clinical sites enables students to gain necessary competences for successful career in medicine. The University collaborates with the University of Turku, University of Zagreb, Hamburg University, Harbin Medical University and University of Iceland. The University also offers exchange for staff and students.

Among the benefits of education in medicine SPbU offers is a tailor-made approach to each student as the Faculty of Medicine is small.

Director Deputy of the Admissions Office Aleksandr Khurshudian

All educational programmes SPbU offers are interdisciplinary in nature. The University ensures an integrated approach to medicine as it offers courses in medicine and biology, chemistry, physics that underpin the modern medicine, for example, X-ray diagnostics. “The courses in natural sciences are taught by our lecturers from those subject fields and others. It ensures excellence of education of our medical students”, — said Aleksandr Khurshudian.

The University also offers interdisciplinary additional educational programmes and graduate programmes. In 2018, the programme in Medical Law produces the second generation of students. St Petersburg University is the first university to explore and prepare students in medical law.

Another innovative educational programme is an additional programme in Management in Healthcare. It is implemented as part of the Presidential Programme in Management Training.  The courses are provided by doctors, lawyer, economists, managers in healthcare and compulsory health insurance, managers in healthcare.

The University opens such programmes, both main and additional, as they are in high demand in labour market: employers are ready to hire our graduates as they are confident in our education and competences the students gain. The University is actively engaged in collaborating with business and public sectors: the latter develop educational standards, programmes of the courses, act as visiting lecturers and hold workshops for students.

Gaining more practical skills

During study, students have nine practices starting from the first year of study. “The first practice is bio-ecological practice that no other medical university in Russia has. After the second year of study, we have practice as apprentices of the nurses during three weeks in the city’s hospitals. As the third-year students, we are apprentices of the nurses working the medical procedure rooms. After the fourth year of study, we are apprentices of the GPs for 6 weeks: 2 weeks in surgery department, 2 weeks for medical division, and 2 weeks for maternity home”, — said SPbU’s students Sofia Borozdina. SPbU, in improving practical preparation of students in Medicine, Nursing, and Dentistry, has signed 100 agreements with medical organisations. Students have opportunities to have internships at the city’s leading medical organisations: Research Institute of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductology named after D.O.Ott, Prof. N.N.Petrov Research Institute of Oncology, Research Institute of Emergency Medicine n.a. I.I. Dzhanelidze, Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology named after Pasteur, federal clinics, hospitals, and maternity homes.

The SPBU’s Clinic has 280 doctors. Each year, they help over 20 thousand patients.

Students and medical residents have an opportunity to have practical training at the University’s Clinic. The University joined the Pirogov Clinic of Advanced Medical Technology in January 2018. The Director of the Clinic is Iurii Fedotov, Senior Vice-Rector for Medicine at SPbU, Doctor of Medicine, Honoured Doctor of Russia.

The key areas in surgery are:

  • endocrine surgery
  • trauma surgery and orthopaedics
  • urology
  • cardiovascular surgery
  • general surgery and oncology
  • gynecology

The doctors are actively engaged in research: publications, forums, conferences, and congresses. One of the first joint projects of the University and Clinic is a project on the causes of the thyroid cancer and adrenal cancer. The Clinic is number one in thyroid surgery in Russia. SPbU’s students have practical training at the Clinic as well.

After graduating in Medicine, students have to be accredited as specialists to prove that they are ready to enter the profession. The accreditation has three stages: a test, an assessment of their practical skills in simulation conditions, and solving situational tasks. Successful graduates get a 5-year permission to work as GPs. Students can choose a residency to pursue education at SPbU. SPbU offers courses in 28 subject fields: oncology, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, infectious diseases, and others.

Practice makes perfect

Professional development starts at university and must continue at work. This is an approach SPbU has been following. Continuing medical education is holistic in nature and uses the most advanced technologies, including electronic, distant, and simulation technologies. The students can choose their trajectory to gain those competences and expertise that they need for their professional development. It makes doctors up-to-date with the latest advances in medicine, treatment, and technologies.

SPbU, as one of the leading centres of education and research in Russia, is constantly improving its educational programmes to equip its students with the best of the opportunities to be successful at work during even the first year after accreditation and to further gain specialization. To that end, the University improves and updates methodological documents for the specialist, aspirantura, and secondary professional education programmes by introducing changes in their content and requirements.

St Petersburg University offers a number of additional educational programmes of continuing education:

  • Diseases of the digestive system in pregnant women
  • Primary and secondary prevention of cardio-vascular diseases
  • Psychiatry: psychopharmacology and psychopharmacotherapy

More information on these additional educational programmes can be found on the web-site of the continuing medical education that aims to provide information of the companies and professional communities that offer such programmes across Russia.

“To be competitive and offer services to the doctors, we should provide information across Russia, — said Elena Tregubova, Director Deputy for Academic Affairs and Research at the Institute of Osteopathy at SPbU, Director General of the Russian Osteopathy Association. — St Petersburg University is quite successful in its endeavors”.

Careers in science

SPbU’s scientists and their international peers are at the forefront of research in medicine. The new interdisciplinary laboratory of will be headed by the world’s leading scientist in pharmacology, Professor Arto Urtti, University of Helsinki. The joint Russian-Finnish project focuses on how we can use bio-hybrids in medicine that are cells built from synthetic and natural components to perform specially designed functions. They can transport active substances to organs and tissues as the “living containers” for the drugs. These technologies will enable us to create personalized drugs to treat eye diseases. Moreover, the laboratory works in the fields of diabetes, oncology, and other diseases.

Among other internationally recognised scientists who act as the heads of the laboratories is an Israeli physician and autoimmunity researcher Yehuda Shoenfeld who is the head of the Laboratory of Autoimmune Mosaics since 2016 when the University was awarded a Megagrant of the Government of the Russian Federation. The scientists are quite successful in three areas: study of sarcoidosis, study of the autoimmune diseases of the thyroid gland, and search for the experimental therapy based on how the products of helminth parasites can influence our body to struggle sclerosis. Leonid Churilov, Deputy Director of the Laboratory and SPbU’s Associate Professor, told us through their plans for the future: “We are planning to carry out a hormone and immune analysis of all clinical materials we have collected from the patients and to conclude on the mechanisms of pathogenesis of the diseases”.

The scientists of St Petersburg University frequently win the grants that are offered by the RFBR in the most advanced areas of medicine.

The scientists from SPbU and Medical College of Wisconsin are working on how we can engage HIV-positive people in healthcare and medical services. 60% of those are HIV-affected people know about their illness, as the statistics has it, yet only one fifth have medical treatment. It implies serious risks: risks of complications for HIV-affected people (immune system destruction) and risks for other people. The interdisciplinary project that involves doctors, psychologists, and sociologists aims to lessen the risks of the disease proliferation among the population.

Another grant we have won together with our colleagues from Belorussia focuses on the search for new markers of nephroprotection efficiency in II type diabetes. It aims to search for methods how we can struggle nephropathy that is chronic loss of kidney function occurring in those with diabetes mellitus. The head of the grants is Ivan Pchelin who is Assistant Professor of the Department of Faculty Therapy at SPbU. Medicine should be personalized, he says, it should be tailor-made for each patient and include early diagnostics to lessen the risks of complications. “We should be careful in selecting the drugs, — says the scientist. — Pharmacology in diabetes is quite well developed: we have enough drugs that can reduce the blood sugar levels. Yet they should have a positive effect on the cardio-vascular system and kidneys that are most likely to be damaged in diabetes”.

Another RFBR’s grant focuses on the development of brain cortex in autism. It is the first systematic study of the development of brain cortex in autism to collect date for statistics of children who have autism and to answer a question how we can socialise such children. The project is implemented thanks to the agreement between the University and Administration of Primorsky district of St Peteersburg.

The scientists can use the equipment the SPbU’s Research Park offers and attract international researchers to carry out the projects.

Resources SPbU has to offer

Among the platforms for scientists worldwide to carry out research in medicine is SPbU’s Research Park that makes high technologies available for the scientists in medicine, find new approaches to solving the problems, and achieve breakthrough results on a global level.

Anyone can apply to use the equipment of the Research Park. The University provides full access to the equipment and all materials for research. The Research Parkhas 6 research centres in biomedicine and human health. There are 7 resource centres in medicine as well.

The Resource Centre for Diagnostics of Functioning of Materials for Medicine, Pharmacology, and Nanoelectronics helps to study the properties of the new materials. The Centres for Development of Molecular and Cellular Technologies and Cultivation of Microorganisms delve into the formation of the body of humans and animals, inherited anomalies, and have collections of the bacteria. The Centre Khromas focuses on cellular biology, microbiology and other areas of medicine and biology. The centre for microscopy and microanalysis provides equipment for students.

The Centre for Medical Accreditation includes simulation, research, and clinical centres to use the latest advances in medicine.

The SPbU’s Biobank has no equals in Russia. The high-performance equipment include state-of-the-art   cryogenic tanks Likkonik and Biosafe, Hiseq 4000, sample preparation and DNA purification station.

Another centre is Biobank Resource Centre that is a cryogenic tank of the biological materials. The genome research at SPbU uses the state-of-the-art cryogenic tanks, sample preparation stations and other tools.

The SPbU’s Biobank comprises biological materials, laboratory, clinical, and personal information to serve biomedicine. The Centre also study the biosamples on the epidemiological, genome, and proteome levels. It enables us to follow a holistic approach to study the human health and wellbeing, behavioural and ecological risks, to improve diagnostics, treatments, and prevention. Among the projects of the Centre is an analysis of the genetic predisposition towards the Alzheimer’s disease.