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  History

The Institute of  Biophysics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences was founded on  1st  July 1981 on the basis of the Department of Biophysics at the Kirensky  Institute of Physics (Siberian Branch, Russian  Academy of Sciences).

Founding Director of the Institute - Academician Terskov Ivan Aleksandrovich (1981-1984). 

Academician Gitelson Iosif Isayevich was Director of the Institute from 1984 to 1996 (Current status - Advisor at the Russian Academy of Sciences). 

Since 1996 the head of the Institute is Degermendzhy Andrei Georgievich - Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The new direction in biophysics of supra-organism systems pursued at the Institute of Biophysics (Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences) has substantiated the feasibility of integrated approach to diagnosing the state of biological systems of different organization and complexity.

A great variety of objects under study - from bacteria and protozoa to higher organisms, including humans and natural ecosystems - are integrated by common methodological approach: analysis of biosynthesis control mechanisms in biological communities; the results obtained are generally recognized.

Initially developed to analyze the state and dynamics of erythroid populations, the biophysical approach was used to study red blood systems in animal and human organisms. Based on revealed mechanisms, the Biophysics Laboratory developed methods for variation analysis of hemogenic system by hemolysis kinetics (erythrogram method) and determined basic principles of controlling this system.

Later on, the potentialities of the biophysical approach, initially used to study red blood systems, induced the development of a new line of research - parametrically controlled biosynthesis of producing cell populations. Theoretical and experimental investigations demonstrated the feasibility of creating steadily functioning biophysical systems with continuous biosynthesis. The working body in such systems is living organisms, and their functioning is automatically controlled by sensors monitoring the condition of organisms and habitat. It has been experimentally proved that these controlled bioengineering systems are able to regulate the rate and biochemical direction of biosynthesis in organisms within their genotype limits. This made possible, in a relatively short time, to develop automated bioengineering systems for parametrically controlled biosynthesis of organisms of various complexity - lower and higher phototrophs, lithoautotroph and heterotroph bacteria, yeast, protozoa, higher plants, isolated organs and tissues, and manmade biocenoses and microecosystems

These controlled biosynthesis systems have demonstrated their capacity of realizing the tremendous potential of genetic program of growth and biosynthesis of organisms at a maximum intensity, without limiting their growth and development. The implementation of parametrically controlled biosynthesis was the basis for the construction of an actually functioning closed human life support system (LSS).

Simulating the unique property of the biosphere - material cycling - such closed systems are of great fundamental value for experimental investigations of laws of the biosphere.

In practice, the LSS's maintain high quality of life for humans in space outside the biosphere, under extreme conditions of Arctic and alpine areas, in deserts, and under water.

A gas-closed two-component "human-chlorella" LSS was first constructed in 1964 and in 1965 the water cycling was realized in this system; first experiments in a three-component "human-microalgae-higher plants" system were conducted in 1968.

These results have formed the basis for designing and building the "Bios-3" experimental complex - an autonomously controlled closed ecological human LSS.

Experiments in "Bios-3", which was completely gas- and water-closed, lasted up to half a year; the system included a crew of 2 - 3 people; up to 80% of the crew's diet was reproduced within the system. 

Continuous cultures of microorganisms proved to be a convenient model to quantify ecological and evolution processes. Theoretical and experimental studies revealed a more accurate general pattern and certain quantitative laws of microevolution in microbial populations; the autoselection phenomenon was described and used to produce fast-growing microorganisms and super-synthesizers of target products.

The microorganisms with a unique type of metabolism (hemolithoautotrophic hydrogen-, CO- and iron-oxidizing bacteria), which were discovered in the 1950s but received little consideration, became the focus of intense investigation in the 1970s; on their basis the Institute of Biophysics has studied, developed and realized unique efficient biosystems to produce protein of unicellular degradable thermoplastic biopolymers and biohydrometallurgical processes to extract non-ferrous metals from ores, concentrates, and rock.

Researchers of the Institute give particular consideration to marine luminous microorganisms and marine bioluminescence as a global oceanic phenomenon. The Institute has developed unique equipment and methods for bioluminescent visualization of the spatial structure of ocean biocenoses.

 Distribution of luminous bacteria over the area of the Global Ocean. 

The pioneer investigations of ocean bioluminescence have now become routine practice of marine research expeditions. The unique specialized Collection of Cultures of Luminous Bacteria has been maintained since 1960s. Intensive studies on cultures of luminous bacteria helped establish laws of emission by a bacterial cell. The luciferase enzyme system isolated from lyophilizated luminous bacteria has been used to develop a number of techniques of rapid bioluminescent assay to be used in medicine, monitoring the environment, and controlling biotechnological processes.

The expertise gained in oceanographic expeditions and the demand of modern ecology for integrated techniques led to substantiation and formulation of a new ecological line in biophysics - it has been proved that the state of large natural ecosystems can be estimated indirectly, by measuring the perturbations in natural physical fields caused by natural biospheric processes and by human impact. For remote sensing measurements of optical characteristics of water bodies and plant communities, the Institute has developed and built the equipment to gather information on the primary productivity of aquatic biocenoses, agricultural crop, and forests, and on water pollution, at the speed of the carrier. The investigations carried out at the Yenisei River, Lake Baikal, the Caspian Sea, and the Pacific and Indian Oceans demonstrated that these methods can be successfully used under various hydro-optical conditions. This has formed the basis for various scientific-social projects and programs: "Ecology of Great Rivers of the World", "Green Wave", "Chlorophyll in the Biosphere", and "Clean Yenisei", supported by UNESCO Hydrological Society, "Earth Sciences" Working Group of the Russian Academy of Sciences, US National Astronautical Federation, Russian Foundation for Basic Research, etc.