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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA615 2008-03-21 11:57 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

DE RUEHTA #0615/01 0811157
R 211157Z MAR 08

E.O. 12958: N/A 
1.  EST Officer's January 20 - February 19 TDY visit to Kazakhstan 
provided a timely opportunity to discuss the Kazakhstani 
government's Science and Technology (S&T) infrastructure, 
particularly in light of continued negotiations on a bilateral 
Science and Technology Agreement.  This cable focuses on 
biotechnology and agriculture and is one of a series of four cables 
summarizing EST officer's meetings in Kazakhstan.  End Summary. 
National Biotechnology Center 
2.  EST officer met with Kasym Mukanov, Deputy Director of National 
Biotechnology Center (NBC) in Astana.  Mukanov stated the NBC 
currently has 700 employees, 90 percent of whom are researchers and 
scientists.  The NBC focuses on three areas: biotechnology, avian 
influenza and bio-chem security. He said that the NBC is currently 
cooperating internationally with U.S. universities including Auburn, 
Texas A&M, UC Davis, and Rutgers. The NBC is currently allocated $1 
million to conduct international cooperation and this allotment 
should grow in the future. The NBC has allotted $100,000 for 
bilateral cooperation with each university.  Mukanov stated that the 
NBC also currently cooperates internationally with Japan, France, 
Russia, and Israel.  The three main aims of the NBC are competitive 
research, training of personnel, and deepening international 
cooperation.  Mukanov said he would like to see more visiting 
professors and lecturers in Kazakhstan. Currently the NBC receives 
13 per year.  The NBC will also build a new biotechnical campus 60 
km outside of Astana.  This center will have 27 state-of-the-art 
laboratories and an onsite hotel for visiting researchers.  The labs 
will meet the international standards of security (BSC-2) and will 
meet the GLP (Good Labs Practice) standard. 
3.  Mukanov stated that NBC's overall research focus includes 
biotechnology for agriculture, veterinary medicine, medical 
biotechnology, food processing and what was termed as 
"bio-preservation," or cataloging bio-materials.  Another NBC focus 
is producing new strands of agricultural products that can be 
sustained in the cold and harsh climate of Kazakhstan's Steppe. Thus 
far the NBC has produced new strains of rice and wheat which are 
currently in the production phases in Kazakhstan.  Mukanov stated 
these new strains were not Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's) 
but were instead created through "advanced cross-pollination 
techniques focused on select trait isolation."  Mukanov mentioned 
that GMO's have not been accepted in Kazakhstan and he was unsure if 
they would be.  In the field of veterinary medicine, Mukanov stated 
the NBC has created 26 new vaccines and 28 diagnosis medicines.  He 
also claimed the NBC has created a vaccine for avian influenza. 
(Note: This claim was not confirmed. End Note.) The NBC's medical 
biotechnology research is focused on treatments for cancer, 
tuberculosis, and diabetes, as well as eye and heart disease.  The 
NBC has developed a strand of microorganism that can destroy oil in 
soil or water. Mukanov said that the strand has been tested in an 
area outside of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, after an oil leak had 
occurred. This microorganism was used on three hectares of land and 
was successful at cleaning up the spill.  Other areas the NBC is 
focusing on include food processing, dietary supplements and new 
breeds of yeast.  The NBC is also tasked with bio-resource 
preservation. The NBC is in the process of collecting bio-organisms, 
plants, and animals to be kept as part of a record.  Mukanov was 
very interested in potential future cooperation with additional U.S. 
universities and welcomes cooperation with U.S. technical agencies. 
Center for Biological Research 
4.  EST officer met with Amangeldy Sadanov, Director General of the 
Center for Biological Research (CBR) in Almaty, as well as with the 
directors of the CBR's subsidiary institutions.  The CBR is 
headquartered just outside Almaty.  Sadanov stated that the CBR was 
established in 2004 as a public-private partnership that reports to 
the Ministry of Education and Science.  The CBR consists of nine 
institutes and two branch offices covering such topics as molecular 
biology and chemistry, genetics, psychology, physiology of humans 
and animals, microbiology, virology, zoology, botany, bio-control, 
and pre-clinical testing. When asked about overlaps of subject areas 
with the Ministry of Agriculture, Sadanov said that although they 
may cover similar subject areas the research performed is different. 
 The CBR only works directly with the Ministry of Agriculture when 
contracted to do so.  Sadanov stated that the CBR employs 1500 
researchers in total, of whom 97 are post-doctoral, 500 PhD's, and 
the rest researchers. 
5.  For funding, Sadinov stated that each institution must apply to 
ASTANA 00000615  002 OF 003 &#x000
the CBR Committee to have its research proposals evaluated and 
rated.  This standard applies to applied research, as basic research 
receives a continued base of funding.  Another source of funding for 
the institutions is through contracting work for other ministries 
and private companies.  With this method, an MOU can be signed at 
any level of the CBR structure and still be valid within the CBR 
structure.  Sadinov claimed government funding for the CBR has been 
increasing, though he was reluctant to discuss actual numbers. 
6.  Current international partners of the CBR include Russia, 
Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Hungary, and 
Turkey.  The CBR plans to send researchers on a seven month study 
tour to the United States sometime later this year.  Sadanov stated 
the CBR has been allocated $50 million annually for international 
cooperative research and was granted an additional $50 million for 
this year.  Sadinov emphasized his support for international 
cooperation and was hopeful a bilateral S&T  agreement will lead to 
greater cooperation with the U.S. on science and technology issues. 
7. Institute directors asked EST officer for assistance on two 
issues.  One director understood that USDA had some money set aside 
specifically for Kazakhstan and wanted to know the status, and 
another director asked for assistance in finding a partner for a 
project on "virus free potatoes."  He claimed that the International 
Science and Technology Center would provide his institution with 
$400 million in funding if he could find an adequate American 
partner for this research. EST officer stated he would relay both 
messages directly to USDA. 
Kazakh Agro-technical University 
8. EST officer met with Aitbay Bulashev, President of the Kazakh 
Agro-technical University; Bazarkhan Rustembayev, Vice-Rector for 
Science; and Sara Kitaibekova, head of the university's 
international relations department.  The university is located in 
Astana.  The university currently has 6600 full time students. 
Bulashev said that every agrotech center in Kazakhstan has at least 
one graduate of his school.  He also claimed that the university is 
responsible for Kazakhstan's strength in agriculture. According to 
Bulashev, production of solid wheat exports to Europe had been 
growing steadily every year, thanks in part to the training of this 
university.  Other than agriculture, the university has 35 research 
areas.  Bulashev has set the goal to fully switch to the Western 
academic model by 2011.  He noted that his university has had strong 
cooperation with a number of German universities.  Through this 
partnership, students studying in Germany and Kazakhstan are 
eligible to receive a degree from both the German and Kazakhstani 
institutions.  Bulashev said that the Department of Agriculture has 
made plans to move the university 60 km outside Astana, where it 
will be part of a newly-established agro-innovation center. 
Following the meeting with Bulashev, Kitaibekova showed EST officer 
the university's labs.  Kitaibekova stated that the university 
invested heavily in equipment, but one problem is that the 
researchers have had little or no training on it. Thus, in most labs 
the new equipment sits idle and covered. 
9. The meetings at Kazakh Agro-technical University led to a meeting 
in Astana with Myrzageldy Abdraimov, Vice President of 
KazAgroInnovations.  Abdraimov stated that KazAgroInnovations(KAI) 
manages all agriculture sciences in Kazakhstan.  KAI manages 60 
institutions and two research centers with a goal of 
commercialization of agricultural research.  Abdraimov believes that 
Kazakhstan needs not only to borrow technologies from abroad but 
also to adapt them to the local environment.  He sees future 
cooperation as a means to improve the training of researchers on new 
equipment purchases.  KAI's focus areas include biofuels, clean 
production, waste management, environmental protection, and a gene 
exchange program.  Abdraimov also described ongoing cooperation with 
the U.S. Department of Agriculture under which KEI sent 35 
researchers to the United States to work with American counterparts. 
 At the conclusion of the meeting, Abdraimov arranged a brief 
meeting for EST officer with the Minister of Agriculture, Berek 
Ospanov.  Ospanov strongly supports cooperation with the United 
States and praised the S&T strength of the U.S. 
10. EST officer met with Dr. Bayan Alimgaznova, head of the division 
of Agriculture Science, Education and Innovation, Ministry of 
Agriculture.  Alimgaznova explained that her department is 
responsible for setting a strategy for agro-science and education 
development on a three-year basis. Alimgaznova stated that 15 
percent of the Bolashak scholars enter into the agro-sciences and 
that this program has greatly helped the agro-sciences in 
ASTANA 00000615  003 OF 003 
11. The agriculture sector is a major part of the Kazakhstani 
economy and significant investment has been made in the agricultural 
sciences as well as biotechnology.  As one of the successor states 
to the USSR, Kazakhstan inherited a number of bio-technological 
researchers and centers which the Kazakhstanis hope to capitalize 
on.  When a bilateral S&T agreement is concluded, it would be highly 
beneficial for USDA, NSF, EPA as well as any other agencies that 
have significant interests in agro-biotechnology to consider working 
with Kazakhstani scientists.  End Comment. 


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