Chemistry on the fringes of the former USSR
Following admission to the European Union, are the Baltic states on course for economic reform? Bea Perks reports
unsolved,’ said Lukevics. ‘Twelve of
world’s largest producers of oil shale. anticancer drug on the Japanese
Finland (the countries’ capital cities,
and cardiovascular and infectious disease.
considerably since Latvia was released from the Soviet Union. Originally it housed laboratories where drugs were developed and standardised, and it established what it claims were the first production units for manufacturing peptide, prostaglandin and cephalosporin agents in the USSR. It arranged scientific and technical cooperation with pharmaceutical firms in Japan, Germany, France,
Latvian Academy of Sciences was reorganised. Some institutes
ministry of education, culture and science. Unsurprisingly, there were
was cut by a third. Its molecular biology department became the
Latvia, I would be very happy to do that,’ said Daugulis. ‘However, I feel
that the Latvian government has no interest at all in promoting science or education, and the only thing they do is generate a lot of hot air about these things, while doing nothing or next to nothing. I do not see an opportunity of going back to Latvia any time soon.’
everyone. Grindex, for example, has encouraged staff back from the US. The standard of living, for professionals at least, is high in Riga. And even Daugulis is not happy with the ‘cultural adjustment’ of living in the US. ‘In Latvia I am able to say whatever I think, while in the US “political correctness” requires self-censorship.’ Not what a Westerner might expect to hear from someone who grew up in the USSR.
chemistry in the Baltic states is the focus of an organisation started
stake in Estonia’s first drug company, pharmaceutical company industry in the West.
on the site of the original institute’s
Estonia is one of the world’s largest oil shale producers
reason for optimism among Baltic scientists. ‘Since their entrance into the EU and NATO, there will be rapid and enormous modernisations which will place them into a competitive and recognisable position,’ he said.
but has spent most of his life in Canada. He was awarded his first degree from the University of Alberta in 1959, and didn’t return to Lithuania until 1996. ‘The first return was overwhelming,’ he says. ‘So then I began to think maybe I can contribute more.’ And it wasn’t just him thinking that way.
together with three other chemists with roots in the Baltic states: Jaan Pesti, an Estonian working at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Princeton, New Jersey, US; John Duncia, a Lithuanian also working for Bristol-
Myers Squibb in Princeton; and Eugenijus Butkus, professor of
chemistry at Vilnius University, Lithuania. They were subsequently
it – it’s amazing they could keep it
capital, Riga (see Chemistry World
Balticum Organicum Syntheticum ‘It is tough to
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