Vladimir Zelman, clinical professor and co-chair of anesthesiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, was elected to the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) in December at the academy’s annual meeting. He was nominated by the academy’s medical and biological division in recognition of his outstanding contributions to medical science.
“I consider that to belong to this academy is a great honor for me, and I am very appreciative that they recognized me in my field,” Zelman said. “This is the highest level of intellectual community in Russia. It’s very prestigious.”
Founded by Russian czar Peter the Great in 1724, the Russian Academy of Sciences is the preeminent scientific institution in Russia. According to the academy’s website, its main goal is “organizing and conducting basic research aimed at obtaining new knowledge about the laws of nature, society, human rights and contributing to the technological, economic, social and spiritual development of Russia.”
Known and honored for his expertise in critical care medicine, Zelman has worked at USC for more than 30 years, during which he has worked to further academic and medical ties between the U.S. and Russia.
“Dr. Zelman’s election to the academy is a great honor and wonderful recognition of his accomplishments as a clinician and diplomat,” said Carmen A. Puliafito, dean of the Keck School of Medicine. “We are very proud to have him at USC.”
According to Zelman, the selection process reviews a candidate’s contributions to the world of science, as well as to the building of cooperation between Russia and the international scientific community.
When he learned that he was being considered for election, Zelman said he was both “nervous and not nervous. There was no question that I would like to be elected, but I knew that to be considered for membership in the Academy of Sciences, you had to have made a big contribution to science.” According to Zelman, foreign members (any members who are not current Russian citizens) are elected every three years.
Several active members of the international scientific community were elected as foreign members at the December 2011 meeting.
World-renowned physicist Roald Sagdeev, distinguished university professor at the University of Maryland and member of the RAS for more than 40 years, noted that the academy has a long history of maintaining its scientific independence, despite years of Soviet government pressure.
“During Soviet times, the government tried to convert it into a kind of handy instrument, and it eventually created serious political problems,” he said. “The members stood for independence and withstood the pressure of the government. … Throughout his life, during Soviet times and when he left and came here, Vladimir Zelman had to withstand lots of political pressures, and he did it gracefully, showing his real civic pride.”
Zelman received his medical degree in 1959 from the Novosibirsk Medical Institute (now known as the Novosibirsk State Medical University), located in the largest city in Siberia.
He immigrated to the United States in 1977, settling in Los Angeles, where he completed his residency and fellowship in anesthesiology at UCLA. The primary responsibility of members of the Russian Academy of Sciences is to enrich science with new achievements.
The RAS has 11 scientific branches, 14 regional centers, three territorial branches, and numerous commissions, committees and councils.