The Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia (NAS RA) was founded in 1966 to encourage the development of molecular biology in Armenia. At that time, the institute had 8 research units. Total number of scientists working in the institute was about 50, among them 21 PhDs. The research conducted in IMB in XX century had a significant input in the elucidation of structural and functional organization of nucleic acids, proteins, cells, and organelles. The first Director of the Institute was Dr. Stepan Tshmarityan. From the end of 2006 the Director of the Institute is Prof. Anna Boyajyan.
Today IMB has 17 research units (10 laboratories and 7 groups), and 3 educational units, the Institutional Scientific Council, Young Scientists Council, and Ethics Committee. Among service units are the Library, Institutional Local Area Network containing Web server and 42 computers, Human DNA Samples Bank, Cell Lines Collection, and Animal House.
Total number of IMB employees is 140, among them 15 hold DrSc degree and 45 hold PhD degree. IMB is hosting many PhD and undergraduate students from Armenia and abroad. Dedicated researchers are delivering lectures and supervising under- and postgraduate students. In 2007-2011 20 Bachelor students, 20 Master students, and 13 PhD students studied/trained in IMB and supervised by IMB scientists received bachelor-, master- and doctoral degrees.
Main Fields of Activities
Current research activities of IMB are focusing on investigation of regulatory mechanisms of cell activity and its alterations in a number of pathologic conditions including autoimmune, autoinflammatory, cerebrovascular, infectious, oncological, and psychiatric disorders. The research, conducting in vivo, in vitvo, in situ and in silico, includes human, animal, cell-cultures and computation modeling studies on genetic, protein, cellular, membrane, and sub-cellular levels. A special attention is paid to mediators of the immune and signal transduction systems. An important area of the research is Armenian genome study using pathogenomics, ecogenomics, immunogenomics, and population genomics approaches.
Funding Sources and Research Grants
Basic activities of IMB have been funded from the state budget. In addition, IMB researchers have performed R&D projects supported by national and international grants provided on a competitive basis. Beginning from 2000 IMB researchers have implemented 62 projects supported by research grants.
Fundamental and Practical Significance of the Research Results
The output of the studies performed at IMB is elucidation of molecular and cellular etiopathomechanisms of many polygenic and multifactorial diseases and identification of vital molecular biomarkers and therapeutic targets of diseases. Another important output is identification of new physiologically active compounds of potential therapeutic significance. Application areas include molecular diagnostics, prognostics, prophylaxis, and treatment of diseases, monitoring of disease progression and the efficiency of applied therapy as well as new drugs design. IMB has a number of technological development in these fields and holds related patents.
Scientific production and Technological Developments
Scientific production of IMB in the last 5 years (2007-2011) includes 13 books/chapters, 117 papers in the international journals, 103 papers in the Armenian journals, 104 in the proceedings of the overseas scientific meetings, 134 in the proceedings of the scientific meeting organized in Armenia, and 12 patents. The IMB researchers developed novel test-systems for molecular diagnostics of schizophrenia and over-fatigue syndrome; innovative approach for individual selection of chemotherapy for treatment of different types of leukemia and solid tumors; new antiviral preparation for prevention and treatment of foot-and mouse and Newcastle diseases, and some other products.
International collaboration and related activities
IMB is integrated in the international research area establishing close partnership with internationally acknowledged research centers and universities worldwide. Partnership is realized through exchange visits, implementation of joint projects, organization of joint conferences, seminars, workshops and trainings. In the last 5 years (2007-2011) IMB hosted 30 foreign scientists from 12 countries, and 25 scientists from IMB were hosted by the organizations abroad the Armenia. Also in this period 22 young scientists from IMB participated in pre- and postdoctoral training programs at the international centers of excellence for research and education. The IMB researchers are active participants of the international conferences and related events. In the last 5 years (2007-2011) 87 oral presentations and 86 poster presentations were made at the international conferences; 12 IMB scientists were awarded for the best presentations. In addition, IMB is the organizer of many international conferences and related events. In the last 5 years (2007-2011) 4 international conferences and one school were held.
Partner organizations in Armenia
Among partner institutions in Armenia are the main universities, medical research centers, and some other organizationsh. Partnership is based on S&T collaboration agreements and realized through implementation of joint projects, organization of joint educational units (department), laboratories, conferences, and workshops and trainings. IMB is a founder and facilitator of the Armenian Association of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Immunology and a joint member of the Biotechnological Armenian Association, Electronic Library Consortium of Armenia, and Technology Transfer Association.