The Department of Energy's (DOE) Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) and four Russian biological institutes today announced plans to work with Diversa Corporation to establish a Russian Ecological Biotrade Center to explore that country's biodiversity potential for developing important new commercial products.
The effort is part of the Department of Energy's Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) program, which engages former Soviet research organizations and scientists to ensure that weapons of mass destruction expertise does not leak to countries of proliferation concern. The center, the first of its kind in Russia, will employ former Soviet weapons scientists who will partner with U.S. Energy Department laboratories and U.S. private industry to work on new non-weapons-related research projects that seek to commercialize biomolecular products.
"Through the collaboration of scientific institutes in Russia, the Energy Department's national labs and the private sector, we are making great strides to redirect former Soviet weapons expertise towards peaceful activities," said Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson. "We are promoting scientific and commercial use of Russia's natural resources in a manner that is environmentally sound. The creation of the ecological center is an exceptional opportunity for participants on all sides."
The Russian institutes participating with the INEEL include the State Research Center for Applied Microbiology, the All Russian Institute of Phytopathology, the Institute of Biochemistry and Physiology of Microorganisms, and the Research Center of Toxicology and Hygienic Regulation of Biopreparations. The self-sustainable ecological center will allow scientists to discover novel bioactive compounds from selected pristine and contaminated environments in Russia. New products and services, involving the use of these compounds would be marketed domestically and internationally.