MITAC through its relationship with NASA has established a strong foundation for telemedicine and distance learning activities in the former Soviet Union. MITAC is working closely with several academic centers and commercial organizations in Russia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Georgia.


The United States and the Republics of the former Soviet Union have long had a capricious relationship, oscillating between animosity and cooperation. Projects such as the 1989 Spacebridge to Armenia and the NASA Spacebridge with Russia, demonstrate that positive support and exchange of knowledge is mutually beneficial. In that spirit, MITAC strives to use telemedicine not only as a means to advance the practice of medicine in the remote and frequently destitute far reaches of the former Soviet Republic, but also improve relations between the two countries.

In the past few years the former Soviet Republics have undergone considerable change. The 1991 replacement of Soviet bureaucracy with increased democracy and freedom of association resulted in economic reform that plunged much of Russia into the depths of poverty. MITAC's goal is to improve this situation through focusing on telemedicine and distance education.

Several trips to Moscow in September 2000, December 2000, and most recently in June 2001 were made to accomplish this goal. MITAC's distance learning project is a collaborative effort with the Moscow State Medical and Dental University, a clinical site Railway Hospital #3 named for N.A. Semashko and the Hospital Ministry of Railroads. The project goals are international collaboration between medical students and elucidation of the ideal method to implement distance learning.

MITAC works closely with the Space Biomedical Center for Training and Research (SBC) on commercial telemedicine activities. The SBC is an institution originally established in 1994 by NASA in an agreement between the USA and the Government of Russian Federation on cooperation in science and technology. This cooperation has resulted in joint Russian and American manuscript and patent preparation of unique technologies. MITAC and SBC are also modifying the Telecollaboration On-Line Database (TOLD). TOLD is a web-based tool that has capabilities as an electronic medical record, an interactive tool for education and distance learning, and as a clinical consultation platform.

A contract with ZIL hospital to work on commercial telemedicine consultations and exploration of TANA support is also underway.


MITAC has interactions with other regions of the former Soviet Union including Moldova, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan. High officials from the Moldovan government have met with MITAC representatives in the U.S. to discuss collaborations in telemedicine and distance learning. The Moldovan government is currently exploring the possibilities of application and integration of information and telecommunications technology in health care and would like to partner with VCU and MITAC in grant application. In April 2001 MITAC representatives visited Moldova to become familiarized with academic and clinical facilities and to explore collaborative activities in telemedicine and distance learning initiatives with the International Independent University of Moldova (ULIM) and the City of Chisinau Department of Health. A Memorandum of Understanding has been established between MITAC, VCU Surgery, ULIM and the City of Chisianu Health Department.


In March 2001 the ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan visited with MITAC to discuss mutually beneficial projects and joint funding opportunities. In April 2001 a MITAC contingent visited the Embassy of Uzbekistan to further discuss collaboration. MITAC has had visitors from Azerbaijan interested in exploring the development of telemedicine in the outlying areas of the Baku Region.

MITAC continues to plan and participate in a multitude of diverse projects with the former Soviet Union. These plans include further visits from officials from the former Soviet Union, further research into Russian and American medical student interaction, and a jointly chaired Endoscopic Surgery Conference in Moscow in April 2002. It is MITAC's vision that these projects will result in a mutually beneficial relationship enhancing the understanding and knowledge base of both countries.


The MITAC negotiated and signed an affiliate agreement with the Diagnostica Center, a clinical site in Yerevan, Armenia that provides private diagnostic services and is interested in continued development and integration of telemedicine into health care. The President of the Diagnostica Center is the former Minister of Health for Armenia and has been working with the MITAC team for a number of years. This center was one of the major participants in the Spacebridge to Armenia in 1989. MITAC interacts with the Diagnostica through the exchange of faculty, curriculum, and teleconsultations.


The National Information Learning Center located in Tbilisi, Georgia has worked closely with MITAC to explore collaborative activities in telemedicine and distance learning.



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March 09, 2004