UKRAINE: Ivano-Frankivsk Researchers are the Winners of the Instrumental Access Program

By Dr Ouliana Djaman and Prof. Volodomyr Lushchak, Precarpathian National University in Ivano-Frankivsk

HPLC, CO2 incubators, microplate readers, inverted microscopes, PCR machine, Hamilton syringes, metabolic cages for mice, and numerous other big and small items – all this equipment will soon become reality at the department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology of the Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University (PNU) in Ivano-Frankivsk. This windfall resulted from the department’s successful participation in the Equipment Access program of the Seeding Labs (Boston, USA). The goal of this NGO is to support the research laboratories in the countries, where scientists as a rule could not afford modern research equipment. It collects the donated new and used functional instruments and then redistributes it through a competition among the laboratories worldwide that require it most and prepare a convincing research program. The participating lab has to bid for US$100 thousand worth of scientific equipment, with US$ 25,500 required to be contributed by the receiving lab. Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology of the PNU became one of the 15 winners out of 65 applicants in 2017 selection round, the first ever Ukrainian institution to win such a grant. To make their participation possible, a successful crowd-funding campaign to secure the needed US$ 25,500 thousand was carried out.

Within last few years substantial changes happened at our department: we have already started new collaborations and adding new projects to the existing ones,” – says the head of the PNU Biochemistry and Biotechnology Department, Dr Volodymyr Lushchak. “We work together with Prof. Olga Garaschuk from Tubingen University on aging of mouse brain within a Volkswagen Foundation supported project, just started a new collaboration with Dr Tetyana Yevsa from Hannover Medial Center, – to study biochemical and immunological processes in mice during aging and under the influence of high fat and restricted diets, supported by the DAAD. We are currently mastering hybridoma technique and have just received a new proposal for collaboration on tissue regeneration experiments. Another line of inquiry is working with plant tissues micropropagation.” The final selection of the Seeding Labs equipment items would partially depend on the needs of current and future collaborations at the department.

The Ivano-Frankivsk team is at the moment in the process of selecting the individual items on their equipment wish-list. “We hope to get the equipment shipped to us by mid-November. We should be able to get it into Ukraine, custom-clear it and unpack it at the University before year 2018 starts. We really hope so!” – says Ouliana Djaman, the initiator of the collaboration with the Seeding Labs. This organisation is more than just a donor. The company staff is helping with everything, even hunt for the pieces of equipment the recipient lab needs the most, if such an instrument is absent in the Seeding Labs inventory. It would be a partner of the Ukrainian lab for the next three years. “We at the department are enthusiastic about the collaboration with the Seeding Labs. I would highly recommend other under-equipped Ukrainian universities to apply for the program. We would keep updated everyone interested in it and answer any questions“, – stresses Ouliana. The idea to take part in the Seeding lab competition “Instrumental Access” arose at the First German-Ukrainian Summer School in July 2016 „Perspectives for young scientists in life sciences: Mastering global challenges of the modern society” (see this Newsletter No 5, July-August 2016, p. 5). In particular, Dr Tetyana Yevsa’s (Hannover Medical School/ the UKRAINE Network) support provided the much needed impetus, which resulted in this success. Halyna Semchyshyn and Dmytro Gospodaryov, members of the department, worked tirelessly to make the participation in the Instrumental Access Program possible. Congratulations to the whole team!

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