For decades after leaving the former Soviet Union, Vladimir Zelman, MD, PhD, worked to expand and promote the Russian scientific community, organizing international exchanges between scientists and supporting his former colleagues as they advanced in research and medicine.

Now, the Keck School of Medicine of USC professor and co-chair of the Department of Anesthesiology has been recognized for his efforts promoting international scientific collaboration by a national organization.

Zelman recently received the Russian American Science Association-USA’s George Gamow Award, “for his seminal contributions to anesthesiology, neurology and neurological surgery and tireless efforts to promote best scientific practices in Russia,” the award states.

“The award was established by the Russian American Science Association to recognize outstanding scientific contributions of Russian-speaking diaspora and efforts to promote international recognition of Russian science and Russian heritage,” wrote Vladimir Shiltsev, PhD, RASA Gamow Award Selection Committee Chair.

The award was named after Gamow, a Russian-American physicist who fled the Soviet Union and was known for his role in the development of the big bang theory as well as his work helping interpret the genetic code following the discovery of DNA structure.

“I think after so many years of my work, that I am proud that I received this award, named after Gamow, because I see that cooperation is important for international relationships,” said Zelman, who is a member of the Russian National Academy of Sciences. “Science research doesn’t have borders. Any disputes between leaders can happen but the relationship between the Russian academic community and the American needs to continue because this is for human well-being and human health.”

Zelman was a young professor when he left the former Soviet Union as the personal physician of businessman Armand Hammer, MD. After spending four years at UCLA, Zelman joined the Keck School in the early 1980s and has been a tireless promoter of collaborations between the university and scientists in Russia.

“USC is really well known in Russia and other former Soviet Union countries, as a permanent base of exchange,” Zelman said. “Many of our leaders, including several former deans, have visited the former Soviet Union with me and many prominent Russians have come here, and we are working on joint ventures in science, art and other developments.”

In addition to his work with Russian scientists and developments in the field of brain protection and anesthesiology, Zelman has established a distinguished and endowed lectureship series, which is in its sixth year.

Garrett Reisman, a former NASA astronaut, will be at Hastings Auditorium in the Hoffman Medical Building for a lecture at 5:15 p.m. April 20. Reisman currently is the director of crew operations for Space Exploration Technologies, a design and manufacturing firm for rockets and spacecraft. The lectureship is sponsored by the Guilford and Diane Glazer Foundation.

— Melissa Masatani