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Proper Citation:

Hwa A. Lim, Alexandr A. Bayev: A tribute to the man and the scientist, In: Academician Alexander A. Bayev, Academician A.D. Mirzabekov (ed), (Nauka, Moscow, Russia, 1998), pp. 387-393.

 

 

 


 

 

 

ALEXANDR A. BAYEV:

A TRIBUTE TO THE MAN AND THE SCIENTIST

 

By

 

Hwa A. Lim

Computational Genetics & Biophysics

Supercomputer Computations Research Institute

Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida 32306-4052

USA

http://www.d-trends.com

Email: hlim@scri.fsu.edu

 

 

0. Abstract.............................................................................................................................................................................................. 1

1. Introduction........................................................................................................................................................................................ 2

1.1. The First Meeting....................................................................................................................................................................... 2

1.2. The Second Meeting................................................................................................................................................................. 3

2. The Man.............................................................................................................................................................................................. 3

3. The Scientist....................................................................................................................................................................................... 4

3.1. The Third Meeting..................................................................................................................................................................... 4

3.2. The Fourth Meeting................................................................................................................................................................... 7

3.3. The Fifth and The Last Meeting.............................................................................................................................................. 7

4. A Hint and a Solemn Good Bye....................................................................................................................................................... 8

5. The Bayev I Know............................................................................................................................................................................. 8

6. Biographical Sketch of the Author................................................................................................................................................. 9

7. Bibliography....................................................................................................................................................................................... 9

 

 

0. Abstract

 

I was most fortunate to have met Academician Alexander A. Bayev in 1989. We remained in contact until his passing away on December 31, 1994. This recollection describes in almost chronological order the sequence of events, which took place from the time I first met him to the time I last saw him in person at his residence. Scattered throughout are my personal reminiscences of our friendship, which persisted through the many watersheds in political history during those six years.

 

-HAL

August 15, 1995

 

 

Academician Alexander A. Bayev at his desk at the Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology, Moscow.

 

 

1. Introduction

Besides my immediate family members, few people have had much impact on my personal life, and fewer have greatly influenced my professional career. From the initiator of SCRI, I have learned to do the best in my capacity, and to care about and protect my assistants and subordinates; and from the director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology, Boston University, that no one is too unimportant to ignore. Professor Alexander A. Bayev, in the five or six years I knew him, taught me one very important virtue - never to give up in the face of hardship and injustice.

My first meeting with Academician Alexander A. Bayev can be said, in a certain sense, to have happened in quite a fortuitous manner. It was in Chicago in 1989, at The Seventh International Conference on Mathematical and Computer Modelling, when Professor Sergey P. Kurdyumov, Director of the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics, USSR Academy of Sciences, and I first met. That unplanned, casual meeting resulted in my receiving a mailgram in September from Kurdyumov inviting me to visit and give lectures at various biology, genetics, mathematics, and welding institutes in the USSR Academy of Sciences. During this long visit, which would eventually take me to three different republics (Russia, Ukraine and Georgia), I met many interesting and influential people, including Academician Bayev.

 

1.1. The First Meeting

On December 15, 1989, while I was visiting the Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology, I was briefly introduced to the USSR Human Genome Program Chairman, Bayev, a senior elderly gentleman. Even though this was the first time I had seen this man, he deeply impressed me. I can still remember his very deep, steady way of speaking. He spoke excellent English, with great confidence. His handshake was firm. He had all the qualities and charisma of a leader. He looked very serious behind his spectacles, but within seemed to be a soft, gentle and fun-loving being.

During this first meeting, we only had time to chat briefly. The meeting was more of a convenient down-the-corridor encounter, a get-to-know session, than anything else.

 

Bayev, Sergey Korolev (a graduate student) and Professor Vladimir G. Tumanyan at

Bayev's office at the Institute of Molecular Biology, Moscow.

 

The day after this first meeting, I learned from television of the passing away of one of the champions and courageous crusaders of human rights, the Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Andrei Sakharov, on December 14, 1989. He died of natural causes in the evening, while still a member of the Congress of Deputies and when the Kremlin was occupied in a deep session concerning the future course of the Union.

 

1.2. The Second Meeting

My second meeting with Bayev took place on December 18, 1989, at the Protein Institute in Pushchino. Bayev was there to open the conference Computer Software of Genome Program in his capacity as the Chairman of the USSR Human Genome Program, and I was there to present a talk. At about 5 pm that day, I met Bayev so that we could return to Moscow in his car.

During the hour-and-a-half trip back to Moscow, Bayev congratulated me for giving an excellent talk. We talked mostly about The First International Conference on Electrophoresis, Supercomputing and the Human Genome in 1990, which I was organizing. Bayev also reminisced about his early days and talked about some of the international friends he had made while he was the Chairman of the International Biochemistry Society. Once in a while, he would digress from the conversation to point out some picturesque scenery along the way.

Though the meeting with Bayev during this month-long visit to the USSR was brief, it had already cemented our friendship.

After this brief encounter, I was on my way to visit the Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics and the Kiev State University of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Following the short visit in Ukraine, I visited the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biophysics, and the Presidium of the Georgian Academy of Sciences.

 

2. The Man

Alexander A. Bayev was born on January 10, 1904 in Chita, four years after Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns, and Erich von Tschermak had rediscovered the 1865 pioneering work in genetics of the Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel.

He graduated from the medical faculty of Kazan University in 1927, obtained his candidacy and his doctor of biological sciences in 1946 and 1967, respectively. He became a professor in 1971, a correspondent member in 1968, and a full academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1970. He was a member of the Council of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Chairman of the Human Genome Programme Council of Russia. He was also a member of several academies: the German Academy Leopoldina, the Polish Academy, the Hungarian Academy, the Bulgarian Academy and the Academia Europ潻. He was an Associate Member of EMBO, an Honorary Member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, a member of HUGO, COGENE, and a member of the Editorial Board of Gene, Biomedical Science. His research interests were molecular biology, genetics, and the human genome \cite{1}.

His life spanned many watersheds of his native country: the Russo-Japanese War (1904); the Czarist reform (1905); the German invasion of Russia, WW I (1914); the October Revolution (1917); the Civil War (1917--21); the New Economic Policy (1921); the end of NEP and beginning of Collectivization (1928); the Great Terror (1936); the Nazis' invasion of the USSR, WW II (1941); the Great Patriotic War (1941--45); the endorsement of Lysenkoism by the CPSU Central Committee (1948); the release from exile of Andrei Sakharov (December 1986); The Three Days that Shook the World (August Coup, Aug. 18--21, 1991). He outlived the national leaders Czar Nicholas II, Lenin, Stalin, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, and was survived by Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

 

3. The Scientist

Academician Bayev contributed to the field of genetics in his earlier days. The turning point that affected all academicians during those days and that would change the academic landscape of Soviet Union science was the introduction of total collectivization. In particular, in 1929 the Studencheskaya gazeta launched a slander against Yuriy Filipchenko, who had started a first course in genetics in Petrograd University in 1913. This led to a snowballing effect in the 30s -geneticists were regarded as "the enemies of the peopl" - and to the rise of "people's academician", agrobiologist Trofim Denisovich Lysenko. During this trying period, many geneticists who deviated from orthodoxy, including Bayev, were dismissed, exiled to Siberia, or executed \cite{2}. Not until the mid-1960s was Lysenkoism rejected and Soviet genetics restored as a legitimate scientific discipline. Meanwhile, an entire branch of Soviet science had been virtually dead for a generation. Moreover, the example of genetics had a chilling effect in other sciences, encouraging the making of scientific decisions on political and ideological grounds. The final release from the iron grip of Marxism-Leninism came in 1990 when Gorbachev, a Nobel Peace Laureate, decreed that the Academy of Sciences be given "total autonomy in leadership and decision" with respect to basic research and training scientists.

Perhaps Bayev's greatest achievement after his return from the banishment to Siberia was to co-found, with Academician Andrei Mirzabekov (Director, Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology), the USSR Human Genome Project in 1988, which he chaired until his death. In his capacity as the biology secretary of the Soviet, he also helped chart the direction of Soviet biology \cite{3,4,5}. With Mirzabekov's joint appointment at the Argonne National Laboratory's human genome research project to develop a new biochip, and the licensing of the sequencing by hybridization technique to Hyseq in California, the Russian Genome Project has taken a big leap \cite{6}.

 

3.1. The Third Meeting

On April 9, 1990, Academician Bayev led a Soviet delegate to Tallahassee, Florida to attend The First International Conference on Electrophoresis, Supercomputing and the Human Genome, for which I was the organizer. The delegate included Academician A. Bayev (Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology), Y. Belov (Kiev State University), A. Filyukov (Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics), B. Kaloshin (State Committee of Science and Technology), N.A. Kolchanov (Institute of Cytology and Genetics), Y.P. Lysov (Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology), O.S. Mazorova (Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics), A.I. Poleteav ((Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology) and Y.V. Sergeev (Institute for Protein Research).

 

Bayev addressing at The First International Conference on Electrophoresis, Supercomputing and

the Human Genome, Tallahassee, Florida.

 

(l--r) Hwa Lim, Charles DeLisi (Boston University), Charles Cantor (US DOE Human Genome

Project Principal Scientist), Bayev and Joe Lannutti (initiator and Director, SCRI, Florida

State University) facing the press at the Florida Press Club, Tallahassee.

 

A leisurely chat. (l--r) Hwa Lim, Joe Lannutti, Anthony Carrano (Director, Lawrence Livermore

National Laboratory Human Genome Project), Bayev and Charles Cantor in the sun

outside The Florida State Conference Center.

 

After the conference, the delegate members stayed over for the weekend. They were entertained by the Vice-President of the Friends of Tallahassee Society (of the Tallahassee-Krasnodar Sister-City program), Mr. Bob Broedel, who works at the electronics department of Computer Science, Florida State University, and who had been to the Soviet Union several times.

During the weekend, we went to the popular resort St. George Island. We spent about six hours together at the beach swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. It was during this seaside trip that I learned more about this gentleman. I recall at one point he was walking the beach picking up handfuls of sea shells. I asked him why he was picking up so many. He responded, "This is a very beautiful beach. These shells are beautiful. I am getting them for my children; I am sure they will like them."

 

(left) Taking a bit between sun-bathing and swimming; (right) Bayev picking up handfuls

of sea shells at St. George Island. Note the sea oaks in the background.

 

The USSR delegate members at St. George Island: (l--r) A. Filyukov, Bob Broedel (Vice President

of the Tallahassee-Krasnodar Sister-City program), Kaloshin, Poleteav, Belov, Mazorova,

Sergeev, Bayev, a Russian couple from Tallahassee, J. Viovy (France) and

Kolchanov. Note the white sand.

 

The following day, a Sunday, we spent an evening cooking out at my home. We barbecued some hamburgers, hot dogs, and other things. While this was going on, we were also playing with a frisbee. Academician Bayev joined us, and was quite adept. Out of curiosity, I asked him, "Academician Bayev, what is the secret of staying so healthy?" He smiled and replied half-jokingly, "Professor Lim, I was sent to Siberia for twenty years. It was very cold out there -I was hibernating during those years. I am actually twenty years younger than I am. I am really only sixty-five." Then he giggled. I liked this man. He had a good sense of humor, and was always polite - he always addressed me as "Professor Lim".

 

Bayev hurling a frisbee.

 

(Left) Bayev taking a rest in front of a TV between frisbeeing and barbecuing;

(right) Bayev grilling a hamburger.

 

That weekend, Academician Bayev, Dr. Poleteav and I did some sightseeing. I was very impressed by Bayev's vast knowledge of plant species. He told me that when he was young, he had some courses in botany and that he had a special interest in plants. Naturally, a curiosity for him was Spanish moss. This came as no surprise; many visitors to Florida are curious about Spanish moss. He knew that Spanish moss was a parasitic plant, which survived on host plants such as oak trees. The thing that caught his attention was that there was so much of it hanging off the oak trees that it looked like drapes. That creates quite a sight when there is a slight breeze.

 

Lim in Bayev's room at a local Holiday Inn before leaving for a day of sightseeing.

 

Bayev at Lim's office at the Supercomputer Computations Research Institute (SCRI), Florida

State University.

 

Bayev and Poleteav. Bayev is looking onto the Connection Machine 2 (CM-2) - a

massively parallel supercomputer with 65,536 processors.

 

Bayev visiting the State Capitol Building of Florida, Tallahassee. Note the draping Spanish

Moss hanging from oak trees.

 

Bayev and Lim posing for a shot in front of the State Capitol Building of Florida. In

the background is the State Courthouse. Note the draping Spanish moss

hanging from oak trees.

 

Bayev in front of a pavilion on the shore of Lake Ella, Tallahassee. The boy, whom

Bayev befriended just before the photo shot, felt extremely comfortable around

his new overseas friend.

 

Bayev and Poleteav dining at a local Chinese restaurant.

 

Bayev and Lim at a local MacDonald burger franchise discussing science.

 

Lim at the Tallahassee Municipal Airport to send Bayev off.

 

As with any good meeting, there is always an end. On the day Bayev was leaving to return to Russia, I presented him with an office set (dictionary, thesaurus) and a medical encyclopaedia. He seemed to be thrilled by the medical encyclopaedia. His reaction was "Professor Lim, how did you know that I am very interested in medicine? I graduated from the medical faculty of Kazan University." I understood that after this overseas trip, Academician Bayev took no other long trips.

 

3.2. The Fourth Meeting

This meeting took place after I attended The International Conference on Modelling and Computer Methods in Molecular Biology and Genetics, August 27--September 1, 1990, chaired by Nikolay Kolchanov and Vadim Ratner of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Novosibirsk, USSR. After the meeting, I returned to Moscow. My host was Professor Vladimir G. Tumanyan. During the night of my departure, we had a farewell party at the residence of Tumanyan and N.G. Esipova. At the party were the guest of honor, Academician Bayev, Dr. N.G. Esipova, Dr. Andrey I. Poleteav and wife, Professor V.G. Tumanyan, two visitors from East Germany and myself. It was a memorable night.

 

Bayev uncorking a bottle of wine at a farewell party for Lim. Sitting next to Bayev is

Belov of Kiev State University, Ukraine.

 

Dessert time. (l--r) Bayev, a student from East Germany and Prof. Tumanyan, one

of the hosts.

 

A group photo from the farewell party. (l--r) Tumanyan, Poleteav, a student, Belov, Bayev

and Mrs. Poleteav.

 

3.3. The Fifth and The Last Meeting

The Seventh International Congress on Isozymes, September 1992, was hosted by the Institute of Cytology and Genetics and chaired by the vice-director of the institute, Oleg Serov. I arrived in Novosibirsk a week before the congress and left two weeks after. During my stay in Novosibirsk, besides participating and speaking at the congress, I gave an opening lecture at a biological sciences class, and co-authored a book with Kolchanov.

My return trip was not very smooth. Planes flying between Novosibirsk and Moscow were grounded after Yeltsin announced that the price of gasoline was to increase by a factor of 3. I had to re-route my trip via St. Petersburg, where I spent four days visiting tourist sites, presenting talks at the St. Petersburg State University, and visiting several people.

When I arrived in Moscow by train, Professor Kurdyumov had someone pick me up at the station. I was immediately ushered to take part at the {\it GraphiCon '92} ({\cyrillic KOMP{\B}{\IO}TERNA{\R} GRAFIKA V NAUKE I ISKUSSTVE}), September 28--October 2, 1992, which was in progress.

After my talk, I was taken to the Keldysh Institute, where I spent a full day giving talks and meeting people. That evening, I insisted on paying Academician Bayev a visit, even though it wasn't part of my itinerary. I had to do some persuading because my schedule was so tight. Professor Kurdyumov, as usual very understandingly arranged the meeting for me. We met Bayev at his residence.

 

Bayev, Lim and Prof. Sergey Kurdyumov at the residence of Bayev.

 

When we arrived, he already had a bottle of sherry and some cookies ready for us. Bayev lived by himself. Like always, he was handsomely attired in a tie and a suit. His residence was very neat and there were a lot of books, all neatly shelved. Though the meeting was very brief (about an hour), it really meant a lot to me.

As we were leaving, Academician Bayev leaned over, hugged me and whispered into my right ear, "Professor Lim, I am really grateful you made the effort to come and visit me. I thank you very much." At this point, tears rolled down his cheeks.

That meeting proved to be the last time I saw Academician Bayev in person. In retrospect, I am glad that I made that extra effort to see him then. After that trip, I have not been to Russia, and not able to see him in person.

 

4. A Hint and a Solemn Good Bye

Since I first met Academician Bayev in 1989, I had been receiving Christmas and New Year's greeting cards from him every year, without fail. During the Christmas season of 1994, when I didn't receive a card from him, I suspected something must be wrong. A few months later I received a letter from Moscow, informing me of his untimely passing away. Though I had known he had not been in good health, the news came as a great shock to me.

 

The last postcard Lim received from Bayev. On the reverse side, neatly typed, are

the following lines: SEASON'S GREETINGS AND BEST WISHES FOR

THE NEW YEAR and signed A. Bayev.

 

5. The Bayev I Know

In the five to six years I knew this man, he never uttered anything about politics: not the current dilapidated economy of the country, not the putsch of the August coup d'彋at, not what he went through during his banishment We talked a lot about science, and we talked about nature. Perhaps this was his way of forgetting the painful past, facing hardship and injustice, and looking forward to the future.

In my memory, he is always that gentleman who is neatly dressed in suit and tie, and who taught me about science and life.

 

6. Biographical Sketch of the Author

 

Hwa A. Lim in front of the Nuclear Research Institute, Novosibirsk, October 1992.

 

Hwa A. Lim was born on July 29, 1957, in Malaysia. He received his B.Sc. (Hons.) and ARCS from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, the Royal College of Science, University of London in 1981, and his M.A. (1982) and Ph.D. (1986) from the University of Rochester, New York. He also has an Masters of Business Administration (MBA).

After working for a year in the Strong Memorial Hospital (New York), he joined the Supercomputer Computations Research Institute (SCRI) at the Florida State University (FSU) as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 1987. Since 1989, he has been a faculty member at FSU. He is currently the principal investigator and program director of Computational Genetics & Biophysics.

He is a member of the International Human Genome Organisation (HUGO), the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS), the New York Academy of Sciences, life Member of the Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America (SCBA). He has co-edited and co-authored several books, served as a reviewer for the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and as an Bioinformatics Expert for the United Nations.

-1994

 

7. Bibliography

1.      This section is extracted from a brief biography written by Academician Bayev himself.

2.      I. Surikov, and I. Zakharov, ``Unnatural selection", Science in the USSR, 3 (1991) 110-117.

3.      A.A. Bayev, "Human genome: general view", (VINITI, Moscow, 1989).

4.      A.A. Bayev, "The Human Genome Project in the USSR", In: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Electrophoresis, Supercomputing and the Human Genome, eds. C.R. Cantor and H.A. Lim (World Scientific Pub. Co., New Jersey, 1991), pp. 1-5.

5.      "Russian genome project", Nature, 374, (1995) 580.

6.      J. Gephart, "Russian scientist joins genome program", US Department of Energy, Energy Research home page.

 

 

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