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CENTER FOR LIFE Vol.1 (1) 2012 SCIENCES NEWSLETTER Dear Reader, Conference on Regenerative Medicine Welcome to the first issue of the Center for Life Sciences Newsletter, which describes the work on current projects and & Healthy Aging developments at the Center for Life Sciences. About the Center for Life Sciences The NU Center for Life Sciences (CLS) was established in December 2010 as a private entity owned by Nazarbayev University. CLS will strive to transform medicine and healthcare in Kazakhstan by carrying out innovative research, practical implementation of research results, training highly qualified researchers, encouraging the practice of evidence-based medicine and personalized medicine. CLS will strive to obtain new knowledge about nature and behavior of living organisms, and use this knowledge to extend life, increase quality of life and improve population health. CLS is a part of integrated academic healthcare system (with NMH clinics and the future School of Medicine). As part of this system, CLS will integrate scientific research with clinical practice and medical education. The main priorities of the Center are to: - Support basic research to identify the earliest, molecular stages of disease in complex biological systems - Accelerate translation of findings from the bench to the bedside to the community - Provide the evidence and knowledge base to allow for a rational transformation of Kazakhstan's healthcare system The main research priorities include 1) Genomics and Personalized Medicine, 2) Regenerative Medicine and Artificial Organs, 3) Tissue Bioengineering, Innovative Cell Technology and Transplantation Medicine, 4) Translational Research, Clinical Trials and Healthy Aging, 5) Global Health The development of CLS consists of three phases: - Phase 1(2011-2013) – establishment of research infrastructure and development of research personnel - Phase 2 (2014-2016) – development of intellectual potential, infrastructure development, research projects development, increasing contribution to international scientific knowledge, begin integrating CLS with School of Medicine, actively involved in doctoral programs. - Phase 3 (2017-2020) – create a basis to develop venture capital financing of research projects with commercial potential, continued international research contributions As global medical trends shift from a curative to a preemptive paradigm, the CLS strives to contribute to this transformation. This will be through its research efforts in regenerative medicine, genomics, clinical trials and other areas and will be a central theme underpinning CLS's research and development programs. Zhaxybay Zhumadilov, M.D., Ph.D., D.M.Sc. General Director of the Center for Life Sciences Biomedical research data on %GDP: According to the International Monetary Fund, R&D Magazine, Batalle, that the R&D spending as % of GDP for 2010 for the United States was 2.8%, for Japan – 3.3%, and for Kazakhstan – less than 1%.

The Ist International Scientif ic Conference on Regenerative Medicine and Healthy Aging took place in Astana on November 11-12, 2011 under the auspices of the Nazarbayev University Center for Life Sciences.

The goal of the conference was to assemble leading scientists from USA, Europe, Japan, Great Britain, Russia and Kazakhstan to discuss innovative strategies in the field of regenerative medicine and healthy aging and to develop the scientific basis for aging-related concepts and therapies. During the Conference a wide range of relevant scientific, practical and social problems were discussed.(Continued on page 2) In his annual address President Nursultan Nazarbayev highlighted the importance of health research in Kazakhstan: “We need to support our scientists. An innovative and intelligent cluster must be formed around Nazarbayev University, promoting the transfer and development of new technologies. By creating high-tech enterprises in Astana, we will extend this experience to other scientific centers in Kazakhstan.”



Conference on Regenerative Medicine & Healthy Aging

The conference marked itself as an important event in the development of biomedical science that attracted considerable interest of Kazakhstani and foreign scientists. Participants noted high level of organization at the conference and discussed the relevance and significance of the presented data. Topics and keynote speakers included: - Alan J. Russell, Ph.D., Founding Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, USA - “Lessons Learned from the Growth of a Regenerative Medicine Center of Excellence in Pittsburgh” ; - Geoffrey S. Ginsburg, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Center for Genomic Medicine in the Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, Duke University, USA “Genomic and Personalized Medicine: Foundations and Applications” - Aubrey D.N.J. De Grey, Ph.D., Founder and CEO, SENS and Methuselah Foundations, USA - “Defeating Aging with Regenerative Medicine” - Alison Murdoch, M.D., Head of the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, Newcastle University, UK - “IVF Treatment, Embryo Research and Patients: How We Can All Be Winners”


First Meeting of the Center for Life Sciences Research and Development Expert Advisory Board (RDEAB) The RDEAB had its inaugural meeting at Nazarbayev University on November 17, 2011. The President of Nazarbayev University was present, as were 19 board members from leading Universities and medical research centers internationally. Representatives included members from Duke University, University of Pittsburg, University of Newcastle, Seoul University and the University of Hiroshima. The Chairman, Dr. Allan Russell, provided strong leadership and Board members were interested and engaged in discussions around the CLS strategy and research programs. The Board provided constructive advice on specific research projects and supported the strategic directions of the CLS. CLS Newsletter

Quick Facts About the Conference: - 266 delegates from different countries - 40 speakers from leading research institutions - 8 sessions, 2 satellite symposia - 5 workshops, 3 master-classes, 4 venues

CLS NEWSLETTER In 2011 CLS staff developed a publication in book format called “Scientific Basis of Healthy Aging.” Authors of the book review the cutting-edge research findings on aging and longevity. The publication focuses on health-related behaviors and practices of healthy aging. The book was published by Marie Ann Liebert Inc., publishers in New York. Below are excerpts from the introductions. “In this volume, a group of researchers from a nation that has been hitherto discreet in this field has put together a highly impressive survey of both the current state of knowledge about aging and the prospects for postponing it with present and future medical interventions. In the following pages, they survey the past and future demographic consequences of increasing life expectancies and the social and environmental impact thereof; the various mechanistic hypotheses for what drives the aging process; the measurable changes with age that best serve as indicators of remaining healthy longevity; the simple (mainly small-molecule) interventions currently available that may delay the illhealth of old age; the gerontological relevance of the interaction between the body's own cells and the far more numerous cells populating our gut; and the current and future prospects for the comprehensive medical postponement of age-related ill-health. This book presents a comprehensive overview of all major topics relating to the elevation of aging to its rightful status as a phenomenon to be tackled by medicine.” Aubrey D.N.J. de Grey, Ph.D. Chief Science Officer, SENS Foundation Editor-in-Chief, Rejuvenation Research

“Delivering healthy aging to patients requires a detailed understanding of how cells and tissues degrade over time and how to favorably intervene in that process. This book presents a detailed faculty-level perspective of an emerging center of excellence and the biology of aging at the cellular level. Regenerative medicine through cell therapy, artificial organs or tissue engineering, all alter today's paradigm of how we treat disease. Today we generally develop therapies and surgical strategies that ameliorate symptoms — tomorrow, through the kind of science described in this book, we will be able to offer cures by restoring tissue and organs that have lost form and function through injury and disease.” Alan J. Russell, PhD Distinguished University Professor & Founding Director McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine University of Pittsburgh & UPMC


Mapping social, environmental, and genetic determinants for tuberculosis in Kazakhstan Kazakhstan has one of the highest incidence rates of TB in the former Soviet Union. TB notification rates rose from 65.8 per 100,000 population in 1990 to 193.6 per 100,000 population in 2001. Approximately 57% of new cases were resistant to at least one drug, and 14.2% were MDR in 2001. This is a four year study funded by Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science to Nazarbayev University and GHRCCA (Columbia University Global Health Research Center for Central Asia). The research team is multidisciplinary and involves scientists from NU, Columbia University, National TB Center, National Geography Institute, Kazakhstan Association of TB specialists. Objectives of the project include: - Study the role of social, environmental, and host genetic risk factors of TB and drug-resistant TB - Identification of high risk populations for TB, assessment of the role of host genetic risk factors and M. tuberculosis microbacteriology and genetics on transmission of TB & multidrug-resistant TB - Creation of an Atlas of TB epidemiology on risk factors & strains of TB in Kazakhstan - Development of a set of recommendations for strengthening TB control, prevention, treatment and care programs in Kazakhstan - Advancement of the science of population-based and genetic research on TB in Kazakhstan. This year we have established the regions for study within Kazakhstan, established research protocols and completed all of the organizational work. In the next few years we plan to perform several types of studies, including case – control, prospective cohort, molecular epidemiology and host genetics studies.

Development of a new treatment method for respiratory failure in children Respiratory failure in newborns is one of the major reasons of neonatal mortality in Kazakhstan. Approximately 50% of the newborns diagnosed with congenital diaphragmatic hernia die before surgery, and 50% of those who go through surgery die after surgery. In Kazakhstan the incidence of diaphragmatic hernia is 1 per 500-1000 newborns. The existing methods for treating respiratory failure in children have low effectiveness and many risks. In 2011, as part of the “Development of a new treatment for respiratory failure in children”, CLS scientists in partnership with the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine have developed a prototype of an extracorporeal gas exchange device. They have also completed bench testing with different blood models and in vivo trials in 2-3 month-old lambs. In the future, considering the results of these experiments, the finalization of the device, along with the implementation of a series of tests and experiments on animal, is planned. CLS Newsletter

CLS NEWSLETTER Meet the Researcher

Dr. Sholpan Askarova is Lead Researcher at the Center for Life Sciences, Department of Regenerative Medicine, Bioengineering and Artificial Organs. Dr. Askarova joined Center for Life Sciences with 12 years of diverse research experience in Cell and Tissue Biology and Biological Engineering. After graduation from al-Farabi Kazakh National University with Master's degree in Biology in 1999, she joined the Department of Cytology and Histology of the same university as a specialist. Alongside with performing different teaching related duties, she continued research activity. Results of her research has been patented and published in local and international journals. In 2004, she completed her dissertation and received a Degree of the Candidate of Biological Sciences in a field of Histology, Cytology, and Cell Biology. From 2005 – 2006 she continued at scientific carrier as a senior researcher at the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, Institute of General Genetics and Cytology (Almaty, Kazakhstan). From 2006-2011, as a “Bolashak” program scholar, she joined the University of Missouri-Columbia to pursue a PhD degree in Biological Engineering. As a research assistant she conducted studies on Alzheimer's disease. Her research was presented in several conferences, e.g. Society for Neuroscience Annual meeting, American Society of Neurochemistry and the Biomedical Engineering Society. She has also published several original research and review papers. At NU's Center for Life Sciences Dr.Askarova’s focus is on identification of prospective areas of research and developing the research programs in a field of Regenerative Medicine, Bioengineering and Artificial Organs as a principal investigator.

Training at Duke


Training at McGowan McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Pittsburgh is one of the strategic partners of the Center for Life Sciences that participates in the development of CLS’s advanced interdisciplinary laboratory for regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, cell technologies and bioengineering. Denis Bulanin, PhD: “During our training at McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine we, together with our strategic partners, have established several priority directions. The first is new area of cancer research, which is related to Cancer Stem Cells (CSC). CSC’s are a recently developed concept in the area of cancer research. The theory proposes an existence of cancer cells possessing stem cell as well as cancer cell properties. In near future, this area will become clinically important, since CSC’s are thought to be a major cause of metastasis development after surgical tumor removal. The second main direction of our research is related to normal stem cells. At present, development of stem cell based treatments holds high promise in regenerative medicine for organ and tissue repair. The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine was chosen since it is one of the leading institutions in the area of regenerative medicine in the world. During the training at McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, several grant proposals were prepared. Two of them were funded through Program Seed funding. The third project is currently undergoing expert review at the Ministry of Education and Science, and is expected to be funded in 2012. Training of this kind are extremely important and valuable for students and faculty members of NU, and ideally they should be prolonged from 5 months to at least one year per person in the future.” Askhat Zhambossinov: “I have worked before in academic laboratories, but a fully commercially oriented laboratory is something different. It is more focused. Along with that the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine has highly collaborative intralaboratory relationships, and I enjoyed that the most!" Shalkar Adambekov: “The most enjoyable experience in Pittsburgh was the way they were doing their research: clean, calm and very effective. That is a picture of a true professional”

In November 2011 researchers from the Department for organization and development of Genomic and Personalized Medicine, Center for Life Sciences – Dr. Akilzhanova and Dilbar Ibrasheva, completed training at Duke University, a strategic partner of Nazarbayev University. As a result of the training, the researchers became acquainted with the next generation sequencing techniques that are crucial for fundamental and applied research in genomic, cellular and molecular biology and biomedicine, as well as the development of genomic and personalized medicine in Kazakhstan. They have learned the fundamentals of bioinformatics and processes for data standardization and biobanking. During the trip, a Memorandum of understanding between Duke University and the Center for Life Sciences, Nazarbayev University was signed. Duke and CLS agreed on the following points of collaboration: 1) scientific research in the area of genomic and personalized medicine, 2) Duke training of CLS personnel, 3) Duke assistance and consulting in establishment of the CLS infrastructure for clinical trials. CLS Newsletter 4

CLS NEWSLETTER Our Laboratories Name of the Laboratory

International Partner

Lead Researchers

Regenerative Medicine and Artificial Organs

McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine (University of Pittsburgh): Dr. Russell’s Lab, Dr. Lagasse’s Lab, Dr. Federspiel’s Lab, Alung Technologies

Sholpan Askarova, C.B.Sc., Ph.D.

Tissue Bioengineering, Innovative Cell Technology, Transplantation Medicine

Denis Bulanin, Ph.D.

Genomics and Personalized Medicine Duke University, ILCHUN Genomic Medicine Institute, BGI, NIH, NIAID, MU Graz, Columbia University

Ainur Akilzhanova, M.D., D.M.Sc., Ph.D.

Translational Research, Clinical Trials, Duke University, NIA, Centre National de la recherche scientifique, National Cancer Center Healthy Aging, Global Health (NCC) of Japan, Cancer Intelligence Care Systems (CICS), Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer Inglheim Pharma GmbH, AstroZeneca

Talgat Nurgozhin, M.D., Ph.D., D.M.Sc, Prof

These laboratories are under development and construction and will be fully functional in 2012

As part of The First International Scientific Conference "Regenerative Medicine & Healthy Aging", CLS & the NU BioMed Club hosted Dr. David F.Williams who is the Professor and Director of International Affairs in the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, USA. Dr.Williams was was very pleased with the whole stay and especially meeting young researchers. “Their attitude and ambitions were impressive. Yes I was inspired to write a poem”, he told us in his letter. Kazakhstan Crossroads Dedicated to the Members of the BioMed Club,Nazarbayev University, Astana Between Nepal and North Pole Midway Moscow and Mongolia Shaped by old mosque domes Oiled by new mogul's wells Where Russian rockets reach for rendezvous And Soviet steppes still stand A Dubai without sun,Doha its sheiks Bright seeds of Astana sprout tall Smooth young faces vie with gnarled age Ambition fighting sealed-in wisdom Imported fashion edges Cossack furs Uncertain snow now pushed aside

Not allowed to dampen the fever Feeding a pulse of the Eurasian heart New blood and oil course the veins Mixing together in the vortex of life Twenty years free of the Kremlin Liberty and independent,but Not yet of mature age A crossroads of Clapton dimensions Waiting to see the signs Let it grow,let it grow Young minds yearn and blossom Emerging from the long Siberian night © Professor David Williams Astana,November 2011

CLS Newsletter Editorial Staff: Zhaxybay Zhumadilov, Philip la Fleur, Dilbar Ibrasheva, Diana Kaliyeva E-mail:

CLS Semiannual Newsletter  

The first issue of the Nazarbayev University Center for Life Sciences' Newsletter

CLS Semiannual Newsletter  

The first issue of the Nazarbayev University Center for Life Sciences' Newsletter