|Solomons Hillers (1915-1975)
|Setting the Cornerstone
The Institute of Organic Synthesis was founded in 1957, comprising three laboratories previously belonging to three different institutes of the Latvian Academy of Sciences and connected with the search for new pharmaceuticals. The initiator of the Institute and its director for 18 years was Academician S. Hiller (1915-1975) — a heterocyclic chemist and organizer capable of introducing the results of scientific research into practice.
Academician G. Chipens (peptide chemist) was a director of the Institute during 1975-1982 period. From October 1982 till January 2004 the Institute of Organic Synthesis was headed by Professor E. Lukevics (organosilicon and organogermanium chemist). Since January 2004 the director is Professor I. Kalvinsh (medicinal chemist, author of several pharmaceuticals).
The Institute of Organic Synthesis is involved in the fundamental studies in the field of organic (O-, S- and N-heterocycles, betaines), bioorganic (peptides, membrane active substances), organoelement (organic compounds of silicon, germanium, tin, metal complex catalysis) and physical organic chemistry (NMR, ESR, mass spectroscopy, X-ray structure analysis, electroanalytical chemistry).
The other direction of the Institute’s work is medicinal chemistry and drug development field. The Institute has developed 17 pharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer, infectious, cardiovascular, and other diseases. The inventions of the Institute have been protected by around 60 patents.
A new laboratory dealing with the analysis and certification of medicines has been established in 1996. Four new laboratories have been organized in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry (CNS active compounds, Pharmaceutical pharmacology and Organic chemistry – in 2001, Advanced technologies of organic synthesis – in 2003).
Implementation of the Institute’s activities was provided by its organizational structure: chemical laboratories, subdivisions for biological testing of the compounds synthesized, and Experimental Plant. For 35 years such a complex performed the whole cycle for the development of pharmaceuticals starting with the initial idea and chemical synthesis in the laboratory till their industrial manufacturing in galenic forms. Clinics of Latvia, Russia and other countries received new medicines, and the profits obtained were used for the development of research and industrial production.
Alongside with the scientific studies, organization of the local and International scientific conferences, publication of journal “Chemistry of Heterocyclic Compounds” the Institute accomplished many other arrangements contributing to the development and introduction into practice of new drugs, i. e., it organized laboratories for technology, development of galenic medicines and standardization of drugs, established the first shops for manufacturing of peptide, prostaglandin and cephalosporin agents in the former USSR, arranged scientific and technical cooperation with pharmaceutical companies of Japan, Germany, France, Finland, and USA, started export of its products to Japan, France and other countries, promoted introduction of patent protection of chemical substances in the former USSR, used molecular modelling to predict biological activity of the compounds under study, planned a centre for biological studies with a vivarium for laboratory animals to conduct preclinical trials in accordance with the international requirements.
Since 1991, when Latvia recovered its independence, the significant changes have taken place in Latvian science as well. Latvian Academy of Sciences was reorganized itself. Some of its institutes turned to the Institutes or Scientific Centres of the University of Latvia, the others became Institutes of the Ministry of Education and Science, the staff of the Institutes was dramatically reduced.
Those changes touched also the Institute of Organic Synthesis of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. It became the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, the staff of the Institute being reduced by one third. Its department of molecular biology was transformed to the Biomedical Centre of Latvian University. In 1991 an independent Latvian pharmaceutical company “Grindex” has been established on the basis of former Experimental Plant, Laboratory of Toxicology and Group of Pharmacokinetics of the Institute of Organic Synthesis.
Since the early 90ies the Institute has intensified its international activities. We have signed the agreements with pharmaceutical companies of Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland and USA on biological screening of the compounds synthesized at the Institute, contracts with USA, UK, Swiss, Finish, Swedish and Japanese companies on the synthesis of biologically active substances and on the elaboration of synthetic methods for company’s needs. We have joint research projects with German pharmaceutical companies.
At present the staff of the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis reaches 314 employees, including around 115 PhDs. Keeping up its best traditions the Institute continues to successfully combine its activities in the fundamental research and academic education with the development of new drugs for the industry.