Adventures in Pushchino Russia: 1992 - ..."


Recently, Alla Kuznetsova (now at Columbia University), whom I met at the All Union Institute of Experimental and Theoretical Cardiology in Moscow, asked why I had not photos from my work in Russia.  I first went to Moscow during the USSR days (1987) following an invitation from Leo Rosenstraukh – to work with Adas Undrovinas (at Henry Ford Hospital), Nail Burnashev (at Berk Sakmann’s lab in Heidelberg) and Slava Nesterenko (at Charlie Antzelowitz’s lab in Utica) in Leo’s lab and Vika Bolotina (at Boston University) in Peter Brezhestovski’s (in Paris) lab.  I also had the good fortune to connect with Boris Khodorov (still in Moscow) and Yuri Zilberter (at the Karolinska).  I took a large number of photos – since I was able to watch the evolution of the early Gorbachev era in Moscow (I was actually picked up by the KBG for taking some photos – that’s another story).  I was fortunate to work in Moscow for 1 –2 months every year from 1987 – 1991, thus being part of the change, the inflation, the uncertainty and the warmth and openness of my Russian friends.  I then shifted my work to Valentin Krinsky’s (now in Nice France) laboratory in Pushchino and continued collaborations with yearly visits.  Many of these adventures occurred before web-technology – and in fact, in 1987 and 1988 there was no email.  Only in 1989 was their email (but controlled by the library at the Institute, and only 1 terminal).  Alla reminded me that I probably had some interesting photos from these early days.  So, I started looking. 


Part of the adventure in the USSR and then Russia, was the opportunity to test the new possibilities.  For example, in 1989, my friends, Nick (UV3GZ) and Vlad ( RW3AG), arranged for me to have a Soviet amateur radio license, to extend the privileges of my US amateur radio license (KG4GZ).  I was the first American licensed to operate in the Moscow region as UA3A/KB4GZ – at the University of Moscow club station and at other locations.  In addition, I became friends with several families outside my institute life and was able to experience the joys of waiting the line for soap, using sugar ration coupons, buy meat at the institute when it was not available in the ordinary shops and trading lab alcohol for many things including a visit to Zagorsk (Segiev-Posad). 


Below are some reminders of my work and these adventures.  Here is Pushchino from my flat balcony and ITEB




The Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics,  Pushchino (about 100 km south of Moscow):  Summer and Winter




In addition to the biological laboratories in Pushchino, there is a very famous collection of radio telescopes.


I lived an in Institute flat with a kitchen for making tea




and shopped in the local bazaar



and there was the river Oka, where we sometimes swam (depending on our mood, bravery and immunity to all things)



I was fortunate to have a wonderful group of friends and colleagues from Iteb


First is Valentin Krinksy, with his favorite position:  Holding a potato tool, post perestroika era of Gorbachev.  After being “evicted” from the Cardiology Center in Moscow (August 11, 1991 – 10 days before the 21 Aug coup) – Valentin suggested I move my work to his lab



The lab was filled with life:  Dima Romashka, Igor and Tanya Efimov, Rubin Aliev,  Vadim Biktashev, Sasha Medvinsky, Kostya Agladze, Sasha Burashnikov, and many many others:




Valentin had a well furnished lab with exotic tea-making equipment – and Oleg hiding out also




Down the hall was Kolya Kukushkin’s lab




Sasha, Olga, Kolya  then Oleg  then Venya and Andrei




Natalia's whole-cell patch bez pipette ………… ………… Venya and his mapping apparatus ………… ………… and some results


Life in Pushchino

In addition to my institute life, I was invited into several Pushchino families as well as radio operator friend:


Valera, Sveta and Sasha were early friends.  Radio operators often were permitted to share the kitchen.  Here is Valera (UV3DMF) in his kitchen, then Sveta and Sasha, and Victor (UV3DIN).  Both families treated me to food and radio in their flats.  Times that continue.




Evidence of radio activity with Valera and Victor:




Then there were other friends which added new experiences to my lab life.


First, there was Valentin’s family and garden





Then preparations for the potatoe harvest at ITEB and families and friends – Igor and Masha,  :








Lena and Julia …… and Olga …… and Sasha + Frank


Valera (above) was an amateur radio operator in Pushchino.  I met him and his family by tracing the wires to his antenna.  Valera and Sveta and Sasha and I became very good friends and Valera tried to teach me how to make Shashlik.  In return, I taught Sasha how to swim.  I was more successful with teaching Sasha to swim  than Valera was with teaching me how to prepare shashlik!!




One day we went to Polenov’s home, on the Oka and saw some paintings



Another interesting “push” came from Valentin Krinsky.  In September of 1992, there was an “International Half Marathon” in Pushchino.  Valentine insisted that I run this race -  23 Km, and that he and the lab staff would feed me fluids as I ran around Pushchino (the race course was 5 laps around the town).  At the 3rd loop, I was passed by the Russian Olympic team, that had just returned from Barcelonna.  However when I finished the race, the band played “happy birthday” (it was my birthday) and the major awarded me a trophy.  He claimed that I placed first.  I said this was impossible, the Olympic team passed me about 30 min. earlier.  Nevermind, he said – you placed first among international competitors.  I asked quietly, how many international competitors?  The response, nu konechno,  was 1.

For training, there was the school track



And for support:  my “team” 



Picnics were frequent with friends from Pushchino, and here, one of the “lab” picnics –


Usually the end of another adventure with ITEB and friends



Stay tuned for the next picnic



Copyright 2000 C. Frank Starmer