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Director PhysBio MEPhI I.N. Zavestovskaya: doctors in the modern sense will soon be gone


Humanity sets an ambitious goal - not just to extend a person's life, but also to make sure that he will remain healthy and active until old age. Is it possible to live 120+? What kind of specialists is needed for this? Director of the Institute of Engineering Physics for Biomedicine at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, Professor Irina Zavestovskaya told about the jobs of the future which define the architecture of the human life’s sciences.

A personalized genome map, printing of living organs, defeat of socially significant diseases, a digital model of the human body's development – these are just some of the tasks to be solved. This will happen in the next 30 years – this is the pace of development of fundamental knowledge and biomedical technologies.

The world is on the path of high-tech medicine, combining traditional medical knowledge with laser and nuclear physics, with basics of interaction of radiation with matter, engineering approaches in the field of image processing and construction of robotic systems. The development of such medicine contribute to the emergence of many new specialties in the field of medical physics and informatics, as well as engineers and specialists to ensure the operation of new complex medical instruments. MEPhI has established the Institute of Engineering Physics for Biomedicine to train such specialists, combining the training of physical engineers and doctors in one place.


Bioinformatics, IT-medicine and drug designer

Today we need multidisciplinary knowledge – physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology. Even the very names of the curricula - from the traditional "biophysics" and "medical physics" to the ultramodern "nanobioengineering", "biomedical photonics" and "nanoteranostics" – speak of a wide range of new knowledge for the professions of the future.

There will be no doctors in the modern sense. The doctor will combine the functions of an analyst and an engineer. Progress develops in a spiral. Once medicine as an independent science stood out from the natural sciences, and now it is impossible to build modern medicine without life sciences and high biotechnologies.

There will be such medical specialties as "medical bioinformatics" ‒ a specialist who in the case of non-standard course of a disease will build a model of biochemical processes of the disease to understand the root causes of the disease, identifying violations at the cellular and subcellular level.

"IT-medical specialist" will be in great demand: a specialist with good knowledge in IT, which will create a database of physiological data and software for medical and diagnostic equipment. Demand for a "personalized medicine expert" will be of no less importance: a specialist who analyzes a genetic map of a patient and develops individual programs of his support (diagnosis, prevention, treatment). Pharmaceutical professions are upgrading too: there will be drugs designer, analyst of pharmaceutical technologies, etc.


Architect of medical equipment and designer of cyber-prostheses

In the accompanying non-medical specialties, along with the already existing in some cases "operators of robotic medical units" (Da Vinci Surgical System, etc.), there will be an "architect of medical equipment" ‒ a specialist in the field of engineering and computer graphics, materials science, machine parts and electrical engineering. He will have to have spatial thinking, to understand human anatomy and physiology, to understand the biocompatibility of materials and devices, to be an expert in the field of medical and technical safety.

"Designer of cyber-prostheses" (so-called "advanced neurosurgeon") will be engaged in the development and implantation of functional artificial devices and organs compatible with living tissues.


Training of specialists of the future

In a broad sense, all these new professions are varieties of the specialty "Medical engineer-physicist", whose activities are aimed at ensuring the efficiency of complex medical equipment, including diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical one (laser systems, tomographs, proton therapy devices, etc.) and support of medical actions with the use of these equipment. We are already preparing such specialists for the expanding park of high-tech equipment in clinics.

But we train not only engineers and doctors who will then work in clinics on existing equipment – there are about 75% of all graduates, but the remaining 25% are research scientists, developers of new technologies, new approaches, new methods of diagnosis and treatment.

The presence of high modern science at the University, the ability to introduce the most advanced knowledge directly from the "machine-laboratory" in the educational process, the involvement of students in the research process – these are the advantages that allow you to participate in the formation of a new face of biomedical professions.


Present and future researches

MEPhI together with Rosatom, FMBA and SMRC Radiology, the Ministry of Healthcare of the Russian Federation are developing a unique direction based on the synergy of high bionanotechnologies and nuclear medicine ‒ targeted delivering of radionuclides to tumors using nanoparticles as vectors for the delivery and creation of a new generation of radiopharmaceuticals. We are talking about the so-called targeted delivery of drugs – one of the most actively developing scientific areas. Targeted delivery allows not only improving the effectiveness of treatment, but also eliminating side effects when we "fix one thing but break another".

A huge range of activities includes the development of technologies for the production of biocompatible and biodegradable nanoparticles and sophisticated complexes based on them. Just MEPhI has more than eight technologies for the production of such biomedical nanosystems. Three of them are laser technologies.

The use of nanoparticles-nanovectors allows to combine in time and space diagnosis and gentle treatment at the subcellular level, which will provide a breakthrough in solving the problems of early detection and timely treatment of a wide class of disease, in particular, malignant tumors.

An important area is the development of systems to support medical solutions. In particular, the Department of computer medical systems in PhysBio has developed a diagnostic complex based on a computer system of pattern recognition. The technology is actively used in medical and surgical practice in the N. N. Blokhin Russian Cancer Research Center.

It is obvious that the professions of the future are formed by today's discoveries. It is never possible to describe exactly the picture of the future, but it can be built by us as an architect of the future building.

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