From Welding to Bioengineering: Interview with SUSU Alumnus

Gennadii Savrasov is mechanical engineer, Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), Professor. He developed original methods for studying the biomechanics of blood vessels and surgical processes, created unique ultrasonic surgery instruments and ultrasonic surgery technologies. With his participation, several generations of ultrasonic surgery units, an ultrasound device for the non-surgical treatment of blood vessel diseases were created and introduced into clinical practice, and the designs of operating models of an intravascular microrobot and a robotic arm were developed. Gennadii Savrasov is an academician of the Russian Academy of Medical and Technical Sciences, Chairman of the Medical Robotics Department of the Russian Academy of Medical and Technical Sciences, Chairman of the Ultrasound Angiosurgery Section of the Russian Society of Angiologists and Vascular Surgeons, and a member of the European Society of Bioengineers. Today, this alumnus of our university, Professor at Bauman Moscow State Technical University recalls his student years with warm feelings.

– Professor Savrasov, what degree did you graduate with? Why did you choose Chelyabinsk Polytechnic Institute (SUSU) for your education?

In 1971, I graduated from the Chelyabinsk Polytechnic Institute with a degree in mechanical engineering (Department of Welding Engineering). But nobody expected this choice from me. The fact is that in my youth I was fond of biology, was a member of the scientific society of students at the Chelyabinsk Pedagogical Institute and was engaged in scientific work at the Faculty of Biology. There I learned to dissect animals and took part in experiments. This experience was very useful to me in future scientific work. In 1965, I was not admitted to the Faculty of Biology at the Ural State University, because I failed in the competition. My father made his way from a welder to a leading specialist of an enterprise, and he once told me: ‘Welding is so versatile, and it is only a matter of time when it will be used to join biological tissues’. This argument became decisive for me when choosing a future specialty.

– Whom of your teachers do you still remember?

– Most often, I remember Aleksandr Rudakov, Konstantin Eskov, and Oskar Bakshi with gratitude. They shaped me as a professional and played an important role in my choice of bioengineering as my career.

– Student life is a very interesting stage. Which funny episode from your student life do you remember?

– Almost half a century has passed since my graduation, and of course it is difficult to single out certain moments. Student life, both then and now, still means everyday work. Fortunately, the human brain is designed so that over time, pleasant and funny incidents from life remain in the memory. In our group there was a student almost twice our age, while we were yesterday's schoolchildren. His name was Iurii. He was burdened with family concerns, completed his military service, and had factory work experience. He faced learning challenges, but he stubbornly moved towards his goal. And we helped him out with all we could...Once, we were sitting in the lecture hall: we were in the top rows, and Iurii was several rows below us. I think it was a lecture on Physics. The lecturer, with his back turned to the students was writing something on the board for a long time. Totally boring! One of us tore a sheet of paper out of a copybook, made a dove, launched it and it fell precisely on Iurii's desk. He turned around, realized that that was a ‘Hello’ from us, and launched it back in our direction. The dove, before reaching us, turned around, smoothly flew down and hit the board right next to the teacher, who slowly turned round and, looking at us, said sternly: ‘Only little boys behave this way!’. The bald head of our "little boy" instantly blushed and sweated.

– What is the most important lesson that you learned at the university?

– Discipline in everything. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

– What was your professional life like after graduation?

– After graduating from the Chelyabinsk Polytechnic Institute, I worked as a research engineer at the Department of Welding for several years. In 1975, I entered the full-time postgraduate programme at Bauman Moscow State Technical University, and from that moment, I linked my fate with medical and technical sciences forever. In 1978, I defended my candidate's dissertation, and in 1989, I defended my doctoral dissertation, in which I first substantiated the prospect of robotic intravascular surgery. The formation of my worldview in this field of science was primarily influenced by my teacher Academician Georgii Nikolaev and scientific supervisors of the candidate's dissertation Professor Vladimir Loshchilov and Professor Vladimir Petrov. I acquired medical knowledge while working with leading scientists of our country (academicians B. Petrovskii, V. Saveliev, A. Pokrovskii, I. Zatevakhin, and V. Shumakov) and many of their disciples. I took part in the organization of the Department of Biomedical Technical Systems and Devices at Bauman Moscow State Technical University and was the first deputy head for research in the history of the department.


I. Reshetov, G. Savrasov, and a team of doctors and engineers testing a robotic arm on animals

– What are you working on now?

– Currently, I am a Professor at the Department of Biomedical Technical Systems. In addition to the educational process, I am engaged in the development of robotic minimally invasive technologies for surgery and diagnostics of various diseases; I lead a team of scientists. The tasks that we have to solve are multidisciplinary in nature. Therefore, specialists from all faculties at Bauman Moscow State Technical University and leading medical organisations are involved in the work. In the near future, it is planned to organize the training of Master's degree students majoring in Medical Robotics.

– How do the students who studied with you differ from those you teach?

– Each generation is a product of its time, with its own positive and negative traits. There is no doubt that the current generation of students has significantly greater technical and informational capabilities for intellectual development. Under the general education programme, students of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at Bauman Moscow State Technical University also study at the Medical University in the first two years. They come to us with a good bundle of knowledge, including in biomedical disciplines. I find it interesting with them.

– What advice would you give to students and graduates of South Ural State University?

– Sometimes I hear from my students: ‘Why do we need this or that subject, we are wasting time’. Similar thoughts occurred to me when I studied some general subjects. Now I can say with confidence: there is no useless knowledge, there can only be a shortage of it. This is especially sorely felt when you work at the intersection of disciplines. University education involves the formation of a broad outlook among graduates, you must be able to find extraordinary solutions to any problems you face. Don't rest on your oars! Live with the thought that ‘I have not done everything in my life yet’.

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Elena Kiriakova; library photo of G. Savrasov
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Elena Kiriakova; tel.: 272-31-64
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