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The Russian invasion of Ukraine hinders scientific progress

National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine will affect the lives of millions of people, and it also presents a danger to scientific work in the country.

In a recent article in Nature, 19 February 2022, several Ukrainian researchers say that the conflict with Russia will hinder progress made since Ukraine’s revolution in 2014.

“In general, this Russian tension is aiming to create chaos in Ukraine, and harm the economic situation,” said Irina Yegorchenko, a mathematician at the Institute of Mathematics in Kiev to Nature. “We know that we will have less funding for research, less opportunities to travel and zero chances of internal conferences in Ukraine.”

Read more: For scientific impact, open the borders 

A scientific revolution that has stumbled

Nature has previously reported (2019) on Ukraine’s science revolution and that it has stumbled. Ukraine used to be part of the Soviet Union but became an independent country in 1991. The country’s 2014 Euromaidan revolution reoriented Ukraine’s political and economic system from Russia to the European Union. It raised hope among scientists that Western partnerships would form and steer them out of international isolation, but five years on, scientists in the country said in the Nature article that the research system has not improved as much as they had hoped.

When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, it took over institutions that were previously operated by the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and collaboration between Ukrainian and Russian scientists became severed, resulting in the loss of research and scientific progress in a variety of disciplines. The conflict led to for example 18 universities relocating out of Luhansk and Donetsk to other parts of the country, with many researchers losing their homes and laboratories, reports Nature.

Read more: Trump’s Impact on U.S. Life Sciences

Clinical trials and financial impact

When it comes to the effects on the global life science industry and its development, Fierce Biotech reports for example that the Russian invasion could affect more than 200 clinical trials across biotech and pharma. Ukraine is home to about 2,500 public medical facilities that have experience running international trials, and there are about 500 ongoing trials each year, according to clinical research organization Global Clinical Trials, reports Fierce Biotech.

The invasion’s financial impact will of course also affect the life science industry. If the conflict causes long-lasting disruption of energy markets and other exports, investors could rethink the conventional wisdom that the market bounces back relatively quickly after geopolitical events.

Photo of Presidium building of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, former boarding house of countess Levashova, 2010. Photo: © AMY / Wikimedia Commons