Applications for Potanin Foundation School grants

The language of the generations, 1,500 donors and the popularisation of science: projects from the winners of the V. Potanin Foundation School will receive 2,000,000 roubles

Moscow 12/07/2016

In the Moscow Region, the annual V. Potanin Foundation School has finished, in which approx. 400 students and teachers took part. Experts summarised the contest for socially significant projects. In total, 55 projects took part in the contest and 8 were chosen as winners. The total grant from the Foundation School amounted to 2,000,000 roubles.

The projects were considered in four categories: “Local Community”, “University Community”, “Professional Implementation” and “Event of the Year”

In the “Local Community” nomination, the jury chose three winners.

The social project “Language of the Generations” (High School of Economics) connects Russian pensioners with foreign students studying the Russian language. The project partners are the Regional Public Organisation of the Republic of Bashkortostan “My years – my wealth.”

“We would be delighted to find a companion for your parents, grandmothers or grandfathers according to their interests among the youth population (students) to diversify their free time! With the help of our project foreign students, who are having difficulties learning the Russian language whilst in their own country, will be able to practise through taking with native speakers remotely (online) and also find out more about the culture and history of Russia. Senior citizens will get the opportunity to feel useful, share their experiences and find out about people from other countries from the residents themselves,” explained the creator of the project.

As explained by one of the authors of the project Svetlana Valieva on the website, soon a video service will exist, where a choice of subjects for conversation will be suggested and there will be a button to communicate with the organisers.

According to Svetlana, at the moment there are 37 international students and around 120 elderly women actively taking part in the project. The organisers plan to attract pensioners to the NGO and want to hold two meetings to get to know them personally and talk about the possibilities of participation in the project. Discussion between pensioners and foreign students will take place only in Russian, although the authors of the project do not rule out the participation of pensioners who can speak English in the project.

Svetlana Valieva highlighted that “we want our elderly men and woman to share their experiences and knowledge with students. And the most interested in this group are foreign students who are studying Russian and wish to practice the language and find out more about Russia first hand.”

Two other projects, aimed at expanding the base of potential bone marrow donors, also won in this category.

Project “+500 donors” was developed by master’s graduates, professors and graduate students of Petrozavodsk State University and St. Petersburg State University of Economics.

Not long ago, the Petrozavodsk State University voluntary donor’s movement cooperated with the Charitable foundation “Karelian register for unrelated haematopoietic stem cell donors”. In 2009, the Potanin fellows at Petrozavodsk State University had already won a grant for the conduct of action to recruit new potential donors, which meant that they recruited 202 people to the register. Now, the goal of the project is to attract no less than 500 potential bone marrow donors.

The essence of the project is to conduct inter-regional actions in the Northwestern Federal District (Karelia, Saint Petersburg, Kostomuksha, Arkhangelsk, Kaliningrad). This involves direct recruitment of donors, information campaigns and the creation of fundraising platforms for attracting means for organising future action.

The authors of the project quote the following statistics: every year 4,000 Russian citizens need transplants but only 200 operations actually take place. At the moment, there are around 50,000 potential donors on the Russian National Bone Marrow Donor Register (for comparison: In Germany – around 6 million people, in the USA – more than 9 million.) Due to this, every year 4-5,000 people are diagnosed with Leukaemia in Russia and a patient-donor match occurs with a probability of one in 10,000 cases.

The goal of the project “+500 donors” is to inform the public about donating bone marrow and popularise this form of donorship amongst young people, increasing the number of potential donors and, as a result, increasing the chances of reaching a positive result when searching for compatible donors and providing effective care to patients.

The authors of the project plan to spend 5 days in universities (Petrozavodsk State University, St Petersburg State University of Economics and others) to recruit potential donors and to open up platforms in the cities. Anyone who wishes to join the register will fill out the necessary documents and provide samples of genetic material (swab from oral mucosa). During the volunteer’s consultation, a quick and safe procedure is carried out. Donors receive informational materials from the organisers and a souvenir. The collected samples are collected into a single package and sent to the laboratory for analysis (HLA typing).

The organisers also plan to develop a system of alerts for donors: SMS services and mobile apps to allow prompt contact with potential donors.

“The Karelian register is the first in Russia to carry out the HLA typing of future potential donors by taking a swab from the oral mucosa rather than a blood sample. Furthermore, we carry out initiatives in normal public places as no special conditions are needed to collect swabs. In the future, it will be possible to collect them at home as is already done in European countries. Even within the last few initiatives several people took swabs at home, brought the package with them and then completed the documents at the appointed place. On top of that, it is cheap since we are able to attract several times more donors that other Russian registers as a result and to a lower cost to our donors,” said Irina Sukharnikova, a volunteer for the “+500 donors” project.

In Petrozavodsk, activists from the Petrozavodsk State University donor movement will be engaged in the implementation of the project as they have been carrying out active promotion of blood donation among university students over the past three years and have experience of conducting initiatives to recruit bone marrow donors. In St Petersburg, the initiatives will be held with the participation of the public organisation “Children and Parents Against Cancer” and volunteers from the Volunteer Centre at the St Petersburg State University of Economics.

The charitable project “Reflection” (Otrazheniye), just like “+500 donors”, is aimed at increasing the register of potential bone marrow donors.

The authors of the project are graduates of St Petersburg State University, the Moscow Institute of Electronic Technology, Novosibirsk State University and Novosibirsk State Technical University. One of the partners of the project, Rusfond, created and developed the National Register of Bone Marrow Donors, which includes the regions, with the aim to gradually replace foreign donors with Russian citizens.

“The ‘Reflection’ project is aimed at widening the base of unrelated bone marrow donors. The Russian National Register of Bone Marrow Donors is very small (less than 1% of Russian citizens), which makes the chance of finding a donor for Leukaemia very small. We will raise awareness about bone marrow donation and arrange a typing procedure, which means, as a result, the register will increase by at least 1,000 potential donors in the first year. Our goal is to convey to people that becoming a donor is simple and completely safe. The most important thing is to have a desire to help,” says Anastasiya Leonova one of the authors of the project.

The organisers of the project will hold charity events in Moscow, Novosibirsk and St. Petersburg (races, Donor Days, cross fit competitions, charity auctions), which will inform people about the problem and they will be asked to take typing test on the spot to give blood. Rusfond will assist in the analysis and the testing of the blood in the laboratory. In contrast to the project “500+ donors”, typing is carried out by a blood test rather than saliva analysis.

“For a creative approach to the popularisation of science” a grant of 150,000 roubles from the Polytechnic Museum was given to the project “School of games in education”. This training course for young teachers introduces game technologies into their educational programs (St. Petersburg State University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics).

For a full list of the winning projects, please visit the V. Potanin website.

Author: Yulia Viatkina



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