The fight to retain Ukrainian science is ongoing

The Nature Index: A Library for Scholarly Contributions to Biomedical Research and the Bilateral Collaboration Scores (CS) Between Institutions

A description of the terminology and methodology used in this supplement, and a guide to the functionality that is available free online at

First, the 27 Nature Index journals that cover areas unrelated to biomedical research were removed from the analysis. The rest of the journals were searched through the Digital Science database to find articles in one or more of 29 disciplines of biomedical research. Articles were identified in the Nature Index for 26 of the 29 fields of research.

Adjusted Share accounts for the small annual variation in the total number of articles in the Nature Index journals. The difference in the total number of articles in the index in a given year relative to the number of articles in a base year is calculated by adjusting the share values.

The bilateral collaboration score (CS) between two institutions A+B is the sum of each of their Shares on the papers to which both have contributed. A bilateral collaboration can be between any two institutions or countries/territories co-authoring at least one article in the journals tracked by the Nature Index.

Each query will return a profile page that lists the country or institution’s recent outputs, from which it is possible to drill down for more information. Articles can be displayed by journal, and then by article. Research outputs are organized by subject area. The pages list the institution or country’s/territory’s top collaborators, as well as its relationship with other organizations. The users can track the performance of an institution over time and make their own indexes.

The scholarly works of the leading 500 institutions in the Nature Index, including journal articles, conference proceeding articles, books and book charters, were queried from The Lens database. All the Lens patents that cite its scholarly works were also uniquely counted. The unique count of citing patents (Citing patents) was then divided by the total number of the scholarly works to measure the institution’s influence on patents. The 500 institutions were ranked by the patent influence metric. Academic, government and NPO/NGO institutions were also extracted from the leading 500 and ranked separately by the metric for each of the three sectors. There weren’t any research institutions included in the sector rankings.

We have defined a specific type of research called basic research applicable to the biomedical domain, which is in the widest possible sense. Even though every effort has been made to avoid anomalies, some counts might be higher because the fields of research that are used to search for dimensions might pick up articles related to other aspects of cell biology.

The tables in this supplement show leading countries/territories and institutions and their output in biomedical sciences in 2021, and the top rising countries/territories and institutions based on their change in output from 2015 to 2021 in the Nature Index database. Also included are the leading institution tables by four different sectors (academic, health care, government and NPO/NGO) as well as the leading institution pairs among international partnerships ranked by bilateral collaboration score.

There’s little doubt that 2023 will bring more pressure on international cooperation between scientists and on science-based cooperation to protect the environment and public health. They need to be more alert because they will be asked to do a lot when this happens. They should take the time to consider what they are going to be asked to do. If this leads to the decline of the vast cooperative networks needed for international treaties, then they should ask themselves if they want to participate in science aligned with foreign policy.

Although in the summer China temporarily broke off bilateral climate talks with the United States that had been announced at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, UK, at the end of 2021, these talks are now back on, mainly thanks to long-standing relationships between China’s chief climate negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, and top US officials such as climate envoy John Kerry and physicist John Holdren. Over the last few years, tensions have been high between China and Canada, but policymakers and researchers from the two countries worked together at the biodiversity summit led by China.

But the COVID-19 pandemic continued to provide textbook examples of nations working in their own interests. Some rich countries have already purchased and obtained vaccines from pharmaceutical companies in Europe and the United States. Together, these countries opposed an international campaign (in which Nature was proud to play a small part) urging the sharing of vaccines, therapies and intellectual property. It’s not okay for people in low- and lower-middle-income countries to not be immunized because Tedros said that no one is safe until everyone is safe.

By contrast, many non-Western nations have not been isolating Russia. China, India and South Africa continue their research cooperation with Russia, as we reported in April. Russia shares the vice-presidency of the Alliance of International Science Organizations, the science-cooperation arm of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. China has invested more than US$900 billion since 2013 in this initiative, which aims to build infrastructure in other countries, many of them along the route of the original Silk Road towards the West.

Next year is likely to see further reductions in US–China scientific collaboration after two decades of growth in science and technology collaborations. Tensions have been ratcheting up on both sides for a while. In 2018, the administration of former US president Donald Trump launched its ‘China Initiative’, a poorly thought-through surveillance programme to counter what the government regarded as intellectual-property theft and economic espionage. Many people were arrested and brought to trial because of the investigation done by this, which was based on the fact that they had Chinese heritage. The initiative ended in February, and the damage had been done.

The era in which powerful countries encouraged open markets is also a factor in the rivalry between the two countries. The United States is restricting sales by US companies (and non-US companies that use US technology) to China of the types of microchip that are used in artificial intelligence and supercomputing. US citizens and residents working for Chinese technology companies have been put under a restriction. It also wants countries to partner with itself instead of China, which partly explains its interest in encouraging African countries to become an alternative base for technology cooperation. Last week, China retaliated by lodging a dispute with the World Trade Organization, the body that sets rules for international trade, arguing that the US move is a violation of free-trade rules that both countries have signed up to.

Pedro Conceio, an economist, has termed the world’s current uncertainty complex a “new uncertainty shock”, with an ongoing pandemic, war, climate risks and economic shocks. As a result, we are likely to see more instances of countries raising trade barriers and making moves to protect their economies, and more instances of nations using science and technology towards foreign-policy objectives.

Governments must accept that they have a responsibility to ensure the integrity of international cooperation. In the case of climate change, that responsibility now falls to the United Arab Emirates, which will take over the presidency of the next climate summit, COP28.

A technical solution to the long debate of LHC papers: Russian and Belarussian researchers are the only authors listed with their ORCID, but not with their affiliations

The majority of researchers on collaboration boards of the four largest experiments voted by majority to reach a technical solution after almost a year of debate. Most authors will be listed with their affiliations in papers, but scientists can choose to list their institutions using theORCID, which is the Open Researcher and Contributor ID. But Russian and Belarussian researchers will be listed only with their ORCID, and a note that they are affiliated with an institute or laboratory “covered by a cooperation agreement with CERN”, a CERN spokesperson tells Nature. There will be a way to include full author and affiliation lists in a journal. The spokesperson said that some details are still under discussion, including guidelines for the use of metadata, and how details of funding agencies will go into papers. (One suggestion is that Russian funders won’t be visibly mentioned, but might be included in the metadata.)

Since March 2022, more than 250 manuscripts reporting LHC results have appeared on preprint servers without any author names, affiliations, or funder details. But their progress to peer-reviewed publication had been frozen while scientists argued about how to list authors. Journals had formally accepted more than 100 of these papers and sometimes made them available on their websites, listing them as ‘in press’ — but without an author list. Journals should be able to proceed to formal publication thanks to the agreements reached in February.

The compromise reached between the researchers with the international physics experiment, Belle II, and the solution is different.

The papers would list only the names of the authors. The collaboration relented in October and said that authors would be listed with their ORCID, but not with their affiliation, and that funders would be recognized in an acknowledgments list, but with a note that it was not an endorsement of any statement made.

A local scientist’s perspective on war and human rights in the Donetsk People’s Republic. My family and I moved to Mariupol, Ukraine

He says that his work now takes three times as long as it usually does. The focus on science is diverted from the war around me and the deaths of people I know. But, he says, his colleagues fromUkraine and I are going to fight on. There is a waiting game going on in the war.

My colleagues and I are pro-Ukrainian and refused to be part of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. We moved south to Mariupol, and were able to restart work.

The new home and building where my colleagues and I lived were destroyed after the Russian invasion. We were able to escape the city within a few days. Others, in particular those unable to leave elderly parents who had moved with them, stayed back in their basements waiting for help. They had weeks of uncertainty as to their fate.

Once again, we survived all the adversities. Our centre might have gone, but our knowledge and experience wasn’t captured. Some colleagues with children moved abroad, and others settled in friendly institutions in western Ukraine and continue to collaborate remotely. The centre operates tests for hereditary disorders in the city of Kyiv.

Russian invasion of Ukraine: science in the fight against the war. The example of Physicist Minakova, a 36-year-old in Kiev

When the full-scale war started, it was the first and only moment in my life when I regretted I was no longer young and could not be among those scientists who joined the army fighting for fundamental values most readers of this journal take for granted: freedom and independence. I donated my car to volunteers, among whom there are many scientists, in particular my close friend physicist Anton Senenko.

The director of the Institute of High Technologies at the Taras Shevchan National University of KYiv says that science is failing in his country. Many scientists are determined to work against the odds. The international community is finding ways to help.

The courage that Ukrainian people are demonstrating is beyond words, and not only those on the battlefields. Suffering the grief of losing family members, staying in basements without water and food, living now often without light and heat, the whole Ukrainian people is enduring severe deprivation with dignity and unbroken spirit.

Ukraine’s scientists, too, continue our research and are integrated as far as possible into the global scientific community. Some of us have received foreign research grants. The British Academy and Royal Society with the Council for At-Risk Academics helped me get the research fellowship that allowed me to investigate the causes of pre-eclampsia. I hope the results serve my country after victory.

Some 27% (91) of Ukraine’s 334 research and higher education institutes have suffered war damage; 4 institutes have been completely destroyed and 228 are so far unharmed. Both the renowned Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology and the world’s largest decametre-wavelength radio telescope, at the Institute of Radio Astronomy in Kharkiv, were heavily damaged. Although many men aged 18–60 are conscripted, scientific research is considered an essential wartime occupation. Many researchers, men and women, remain in post, sometimes working remotely in safer parts of the country.

Minakova, a 34-year-old physicist in Kharkiv, remained in Ukraine when Russia invaded last February. She was able to achieve a collaboration with the Americans on solar energy research despite the crisis. But that same night brought disaster. A guard was killed and a lab destroyed when a Russian missile hit the campus of the National Technical University.

Minakova is doing research on solar cells despite the frequent powerlessness and air-raid alarms, and she hopes to visit New Orleans for training later this year. She teaches online to her undergrad students who are not allowed on the campus for safety reasons. In her spare time, she volunteers to help older residents find water and medicine, and helps children to embroider goodwill tokens for soldiers. The best idea for living is to not have time to relax.

The science ministry reported that as of January, 95 research and higher education institutions had been damaged or destroyed. Some 228 remain unharmed. The renowned Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology and the world’s largest decametre-wavelength radio telescope, which belongs to the Institute of Radio Astronomy in Kharkiv, were heavily damaged.

Russia destruction of energy infrastructure has led to rolling cyberattacks on the country by the Ukrainians. Water and heating are disrupted often. Generators and fuel are hard to come by. As a consequence, universities have to plan elaborate schedules for experimentation and online teaching because students in different places don’t always have electricity at the same time.

As Russia continues to bomb the country, the other regular, but less predictable, interruptions are air-raid sirens, which typically give a 30–60 minute warning to move to safety, says Komarov. “Each man and woman has found a way to cope,” he says. Even if things don’t work out, I keep working and working.

Komarov, who heads a staff of 60 overseeing 500 undergraduates, says the first month of the war was particularly hard, and dominated by struggles to source even basic reagents. Russian planes bombed his university on New Year’s Eve, shattering more than 1,000 windows and setting off a freeze that lasted through the night.

“Most of my time and that of my colleagues — the deans and directors — is spent on adjusting the working schedule to the power cut-offs and alarms, and organizing logistics, especially for reagents coming from abroad,” he says. Komarov works on proposals for a new biomedical science hub when the war is over and he raises funds to help with the war effort in his spare time.

I make an effort to continue doing science. It’s difficult not only physically but also because of this psychological pressure. You need a peaceful time to do something creative. It became quite a challenge to write papers.

Support for Ukrainian scientists living in the post-WWII era during the Russian-Israel War, according to Ivan Brusak

A number of international aid schemes now do support scientists in Ukraine. The Swiss National Science Foundation in Bern gave remote funding toUkrainian scientists who have left their country to work in Switzerland. And the Dutch Research Council (NWO) is discussing a €250,000 scheme under which Ukrainian researchers can remotely join existing NWO-financed projects. Last December, the University of Cambridge, UK, and the NRFU launched a scheme under which the university will fund up to 15 grants for individual researchers from Ukraine who have been displaced by the war and are still living in Ukraine.

In January, the Simons Foundation in New York City, which supports research in mathematics and basic science, announced more than $1.2 million of funding for 405 scientists in Ukraine, including doctoral candidates. Some leaders of research teams will receive large, lump sums and will each receive a monthly stipend of $100 or $200.

SfU is experimenting with a website for more than 80 Ukrainian research institutions to post requests to the international community. Rose says responses to the requests have been disappointing so far.

Polotska says support doesn’t have to be financial. Workshops on grant management are just one of the many bottom-up initiatives. One of the key psychological difficulties that people are experiencing is lack of communication, lack of access to the international community.”

Ivan Brusak, 28, is a specialist in geodesy at a Ukrainian university. He says they need equipment and remote international collaborations.

Brusak took months off work when the war began, helping to organize student support for the war effort. His team coordinated a giant weaving operation conducted at more than 100 venues around Lviv, turning tonnes of fabrics and threads into camouflage nets. It also procured and delivered kit such as binoculars and thermal imaging cameras to the military.

The Brusak would volunteer from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. He says he doesn’t understand how he managed it. By summer, his time volunteering had dropped and he successfully defended his thesis in December.

A collaboration he has with Polish scientists began last July. Despite the war, we continue to cooperate.

More than 600 Ukrainian scientists left their country after the invasion of their country, according to a survey that Polish and Ukrainian scientists released last December. The organizers reached as many respondents as possible with the help of networks, but they probably missed some scientists who are not connected to the groups. Still, the results suggest that those outside Ukraine are mostly women (largely because it’s harder for men to leave: those aged 18–60 are not supposed to leave the country, although special dispensation can be granted, such as to single parents). The majority are senior researchers, and many have children with them.

Ties have loosened for some. After her contract at the National University of Kyiv ran out, Olena Prysiazhna left Ukrainian science, at least for now. She and her mother and sister ran away after a missile exploded in their neighbour’s back garden. When Nature spoke to Prysiazhna last April (see Nature 605, 414–416; 2022), the family was in the Netherlands recovering from the ordeal, and both sisters were looking for scientific work.

Prysiazhna assumes she will eventually return to Ukraine, although her family’s home is damaged, as her mother found on a brief return visit. Prysiazhna’s mother and sister share a room with her dog at a converted holiday camp in the Netherlands. She left Ukraine for a new life in America and is trying to find a way to defend her thesis.

Komarov’s worry is that scientists in Prysiazhna’s position — young and with few ties — might never return. But Rose, who studies phenomena such as brain drain, disagrees.

“Irrespective of whether people are refugees, irrespective of whether they return or not,” he says, “these fears of brain drain are not substantiated. People come back with new ideas. But even when they don’t return, they still pass on knowledge and insight to people who are still there. There is knowledge sharing, even this way.


The Russian Research Foundation: How Scientific Research in the Post-WWII Era Has Been Done before the World War Is Never Enough

The war will stop, and then we need to be good specialists in alternative energy. I hope the world will help rebuild our country and our campuses.

But the academy (rather than universities) is responsible for organizing and funding most research institutes, which is partly a legacy of how science was organized before Ukrainian independence in 1991, when the country was part of the Soviet Union. Research institutions were part of the state and lacked autonomy to make their own decisions, including which projects to fund, without the say-so of government officials. The creation of an independent grant giving body, the National Research Foundation ofUkraine, was one of the reforms that was enacted in the years before the war. But these organizations can’t do their jobs.

The plan for education and science recovery was published in November of last year. The plan includes a proposal to create a high-risk, high-reward funding agency along the lines of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It encourages closer integration with the European and wider global research communities and it also encourages science to be involved in post-war reconstruction like the Marshall Plan was for Europe after the Second World War.

The community of researchers has discussed individual boycotts of Russian work. International journals have generally not banned the consideration of Russian-authored work, and some researchers and journals have warned against indiscriminately isolating the country’s scientists. But at least one title, Elsevier’s Journal of Molecular Science, has said it will no longer consider manuscripts from scientists at Russian institutions. Its editor-in-chief, Rui Fausto, a chemist at the University of Coimbra in Portugal, says that the policy still stands, although Nature’s analysis found at least nine articles published in the journal that had Russian authors and had been submitted after the war began. (Fausto says that he is looking into them.)

The Ukrainian government has strongly discouraged collaboration with Russian researchers and publication in Russian journals, says Michael Rose, who studies the economics of science and innovation at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition in Munich, Germany.

The war has taken place in a time when countries have begun to understand the competitive aspects of research collaboration, while introducing restrictions on overseas collaboration that is deemed sensitive to national security.

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