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Research Institute of Influenza (RII) was founded in 1967 as a lead institution under the Ministry of Public Health of the USSR to explore the «Influenza and Influenza-Like Illnesses (ILI) problem». The area of research included virology, immunology, and epidemiology of influenza and other acute respiratory infections (ARI), and designing means for their prevention and therapy. During 1992–2010 the Institute was incorporated into the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences (RAMS).Since the end of 2010, the activities of RII were continued under the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation (RF MPHSD).

The founder and first director of the Institute was Dr. Anatoly Alexandrovich Smorodintsev: member of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences; an outstanding Russian virologist; creator of the nation’s first virology laboratories; and one of the founders of the domestic school of virologists. He made invaluable contributions to solving the problems of medical virology, microbiology, and epidemiology. Under his leadership, a number of live and killed antiviral vaccines were developed against mumps, measles, rubella, tick-borne encephalitis, and other infections. His studies of the poliomyelitis vaccine, including gathering data about its safety, were truly outstanding. These investigations, conducted in collaboration with his colleague Mikhail Petrovich Chumakov, contributed to the eradication of poliomyelitis all over the world. For these achievements, both famous Russian scientists were awarded the Lenin Prize in 1963.   

When A. A. Smorodintsev created a live attenuated vaccine against influenza, it was the first of its kind. That work was published in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences in 1937. Under his leadership, new scientific directions were initiated and developed, such as connection with integrated influenza  prevention systems, generation of live multi-virus vaccines, the use of interferon inducers for non-specific prevention of influenza and acute respiratory diseases, evaluation of the role of collective immunity in influenza, and others. Academy member A. A. Smorodintsev’s scientific productivity is reflected in numerous publications and monographs. He received wide international recognition, as seen by the honorary memberships given to him by the medical societies of several different countries.

Later, the Institute was headed (1973 to 1976) by Professor Mikhail Petrovich Zykov. During the 1976 to 1988 period, Professor Georgiy Ivanovich Karpukhin was the director, and from 1988 to 2015, the Institute of Influenza was headed Russian Academy of Sciences member Oleg Ivanovich Kiselev, a well-known specialist in the field of molecular virology and biochemistry.

Oleg Ivanovich Kiselev (September 5, 1945 - November 24, 2015): Russian Academy of Sciences member; Doctor of Biological Sciences; Professor; Distinguished Scientist of the Russian Federation; Laureate of the 2004 Russian Government Prize in Science and Technology; awardee "Service to the Fatherland" Medal of Merit 2nd degree.

O. I. Kiselev was a leading specialist in the fields of biochemistry and the molecular biology of viruses. Under his leadership, work was carried out to create genetically engineered vaccines, to design new chemotherapeutics, and to investigate the molecular mechanisms behind their action. Professor Kiselev contributed greatly to the field which studies the evolutionary variability of influenza viruses. He was the initiator of, and a participant in, a number of international scientific projects. As the head of a World Health Organization (WHO) National Influenza Centre, Dr. Kiselev developed cooperation with the WHO on surveillance and control of influenza and acute respiratory viral infections in Russia.

Dr. Kiselev headed the "Influenza and Influenza-like Infections" Problem Commission (Russian Academy of Sciences), the Interdepartmental Commission for Vaccines and Diagnosis of Strains (Russian Ministry of Health), and the St. Petersburg Branch Council of the Russian Society of Biochemists and Molecular Biologists (Russian Academy of Sciences). He was also a WHO expert and served on the editorial boards of scientific and medical journals. Professor Kiselev established a school of molecular biologists and genetic engineers, and he trained four doctors of science and 10 candidates of science. The results of his scientific research are reflected in 12 monographs, over 200 publications, and in 48 patents.

Over its existence, Institute employees have made significant contributions in a number of areas: fundamental and applied problems in the field of influenza evolutionary variability (Prof. T. Y. Luzyanina, Prof. D. B. Golubev); antiviral immunity (Prof. R. Y. Polyak, Y. S. Shvartsman); development of diagnostic tools for viral infections (Prof. A. A. Sominina, Candidate of Medical Sciences L. E. Kamforin); as well as studies of the molecular basis of virus attenuation and obtaining the first reassortant vaccines (Prof. G. I. Aleksandrova). In the Institute’s clinic, under the direction of Professors D. M. Zlydnikov and P. D. Starshov, new etiotropic and pathogenetic approaches to the therapy of severe and complicated forms of influenza and other acute respiratory diseases were validated. The team made significant contributions to the field by creating new therapeutic and prophylactic pharmacological drugs.

In the early 1970s, epidemiological and etiological surveillance of influenza and acute respiratory diseases was established and validated at the Institute of Influenza. Such monitoring permits forecasting epidemics in the country and enables authorities to take timely, comprehensive preventive and anti-epidemic measures. During the tenure of Prof. Karpukhin, the Federal Influenza and Acute Respiratory Infections Centre was established, and Regional Base Laboratories were organized. Their successful work continues today.

Russia joined the global influenza monitoring network approximately 50 years ago. The Research Institute of Influenza has been participating in this system, performing the functions of a WHO National Influenza Centre, since 1971. Since its founding, the Institute has been coordinating research on influenza and other acute respiratory infections at a national level. It analyzes and contextualizes the research work of institutes working on these infections and determines current research directions. In addition to finding strategies for the prevention of influenza and publishing methodological literature, the Institute organizes and conducts scientific conferences, symposiums, workshops, and seminars.

On April 19, 2018, the Institute was *renamed in honour of its first director, and USSR Academy of Science member, Dr. Anatoly Alexandrovich Smorodintsev. Today, the Institute is officially: the Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza.  

*(Directive No. 176; Russian Ministry of Health; "On Amendments to the Charter of the Federal Budgetary Institution "Research Institute of Influenza")