The TB Alliance visited Russia and Ukraine in September as part of its ongoing assessment of R&D capacity in high-burden countries. Organized with the support of the International Science & Technology Center in Moscow and the US State Department BioIndustry Initiative, the trip was a preliminary appraisal of resources and expertise for preclinical and clinical development. Extensive consultations were had some 15 leading chemistry and biology research institutes, several TB treatment centers and health officials from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While the challenges of TB control in both countries are significant, the level of scientific inquiry and activity was sound and Russian and Ukrainian scientists were interested in pursuing collaborations. Dr. Mel Spigelman, Director of R&D, and Ms. Gwynne Oosterbaan, Assistant Director, Public Affairs, visited the Research Center for Molecular and Diagnostic Activity, the Central TB Research Institute, and the State Research Center for Applied Microbiology. TB Alliance representatives were joined by Dr. Lee Reichman, President of the Stakeholders Association, at a conference in Ukraine at the Vinnitsa Medical University. The event recognized Dr. Selman Waksman, a Nobel Laureate for his discovery of streptomycin, one of the first TB drugs, at his birthplace outside Vinnitsa.
The TB epidemic is growing quickly in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Earlier this year, Russia and Ukraine signed World Bank loans totaling $200 million to improve their fight against TB and AIDS.