Russian experts. International scientific schools and seminars in the biomedical sciences are organized annually in Russia. In addition, many collaborating centers of the World Health Organization in Russia offer refresher training for specialists in relevant fields.
Four other approaches beyond these two recommendations are also worthy of consideration: (1) placing postgraduates in Russian and international companies to help implement applied research projects under the joint supervision of their professors and senior company personnel; (2) initiating two-way exchange programs of mid-career scientists between research institutes and biotechnology companies; (3) providing specially-designed business training courses for research managers that reflect both Western experience and Russian realities; and (4) supporting professional organizations working in bioscience and biotechnology such as the Society of Epidemiologists, Microbiologists, and Parasitologists; the Society of Virologists; the Society of Biotechnologists; and the Union of Biotechnical Industry Enterprises.
Such approaches have occasionally been attempted in Russia. For example, the agriculture-oriented firm NARVAC employs outstanding students on a regular basis and works closely with educational institutions. This approach provides a privately owned research-oriented company as a home base for rising biotechnology leaders.3
Finally, there are also special needs for basic and advanced training in epidemiology, which is a rapidly developing field worldwide. Russian colleagues report that 4,306 epidemiologists, 515 parasitologists, 4,585 bacteriologists, and 239 virologists were conducting work related to epidemiology in Russia in 2000. In recent years, the workforce has been relatively stable, and these figures probably have not changed significantly (Onishchenko, 2002). Russian colleagues therefore suggest that Russia may have sufficient numbers of specialists in these fields and that the emphasis should be on training to ensure quality and effectiveness. It also seems appropriate for the specialists to be encouraged to impart their scientific expertise to local medical personnel as well.
In conclusion, Russian science and technology have much to offer the world as has been demonstrated in recent years. Attracting and retaining highly trained and well-motivated personnel are the central ingredients of Russia’s expanded participation in international scientific activities and entry of its products into global markets. Yet as underscored previously, even if Russian scientists have concepts for new products, an entire team of factory managers and quality control specialists, accountants, and lawyers must lead the transformation of brilliant ideas into useful products. One way to promote this team concept might be to incorporate a component for improving the skills necessary to have more effective market-oriented teams into externally funded research and development projects.