St Petersburg University will open two laboratories that will be headed by the scientists who have won the 6 th Megagrant competition of the Government of the Russian Federation: a world renowned scientist in pharmacology, Professor of Biopharmaceutics, University of Helsinki, Arto Urtti and Indian mathematician, Professor of Mathematics, School of mathematics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, Dipendra Prasad.


The laboratories will focus on how to solve the tasks of algebra and develop new drugs.   

Biohybrids for medicine

The main concern of the laboratory headed by Professor Arto Urtti is how we can develop and use biohybrids in medicine that are cells that are the result of symbiosis of synthesized and natural components to perform a function in our body, in particular to transport active substances to our organs or tissues serving as “live containers” for drugs.

Professor Arti Urtti is a world’s leading scientist in pharmacology. He has been working in the USA, is a member of the editorial boards of the leading journals in pharmacology. He is Professor at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and a founder of the Centre for Drug Research at the University of Helsinki.

They are planning to use technologies to develop personalized drugs to treat ophthalmological diseases: age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. The results, as the scientists say, can be used in treating cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.

“In the nearest future, we will be able, thanks to breakthroughs in biology, biotechnologies, chemistry, and medicine, to use our cells as “live” drugs, — said one of the key members of the project, SPbU Associate Professor Viktor Korshikov-Vlakh. — What I mean is personalised medicine that will allow us to use our own cells to tailor them to an individual patient. Presumably, cancer, diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases will surrender”.

The project will involve a laboratory of biomedical chemistry of SPbU (head of the laboratory is Professor Tatiana Tennikova), research groups of Serheu Tunik, Mikhail Krasavin, and Iurii Skorik. The project “Biohybrid technologies for modern medicine” is a three-year project, with the grant of 90 mln rubles.

Tasks of algebra today

SPbU will open a laboratory that will be headed by Professor Dipendra Prasad and bring together scientists in various areas of algebra: group theory, algebraic geometry, representation theory, theory of motives, homological algebra. There will be two research groups: to solve the tasks of the theory of discrete and profinite groups and to solve the tasks of geometry and theory of motives.

Professor Dipendra Prasad is an Indian mathematician, a specialist in automorphic representations and Langlands programme. In 1989, he gained PhD in Harvard, has been working with the world’s leading research centres, and is Professor of Mathematics, School of mathematics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. In 2018, he was invited as a reporter to the International Congress of Mathematicians.  

“With Dipendra Prasad, there will be a new wave of algebraic research in Russia. Our project will incorporate brilliant scientists: Professor Rostislav Grigorchuk from the University of Taxas, Professor Tatiana Smirnova-Nagnibeda from the University of Geneva. We will open new seminars and create ample opportunities for research”, — said SPbU senior research fellow and Professor of RAS Roman Mikhailov who initiated the project.

The laboratory is expected to be visited by the world’s renowned mathematicians to deliver open lectures: Fields Prize winner Efim Zelmanov, Professor of the Faculty of Mathematics, University of Indiana in Bloomington Kent Orr, Maltsev Prize winner Olga Kharlampovich, Professor of the University of Singapore Ji Vu, and others. The Project “Modern algebra and its applications” is a three-year project, with the grant of 60 mln rubles.