History of IBIR

The year 1938 is accepted as the year of the foundation of the Institute. The necessary preliminary organizational work and selection of personnel is closely related to the name of Prof. Georgi Nenkov, the head of the Department of surgery in the Veterinary Medicine Faculty in Sofia and chief of the Veterinary Administration in the Ministry of Agriculture and Public Properties. After the proposal by Prof. G. Nenkov, the minister assigned the task to the Veterinary Administration to organize the research facilities needed for the introduction of the one of the most revolutionary technology of the 20th century namely the artificial insemination of farm animals with the aim of the genetic improvement and optimization of the farm-breeding in Bulgaria. Thus the Institute for Artificial Insemination and Breeding Diseases is founded and prof. G.Nenkov is appointed as its director. The Institute is organized in two departments – “Artificial Insemination” department headed by Prof. R.Prahov and Breeding Diseases department headed by Prof. D. Pishev as the activity is centered in the laboratories due to the ongoing war.

In 1943 Dr. Kiril Bratanov returned to the country after his specialization in the problems of reproduction and artificial insemination in the group of Prof. T.Bonadona (Institute of Experimental Biology “Lazaro Splazzani”, Italy), joined the Institute and continued his research on sperm production by high quality breeders. Dr. K. Bratanov was appointed as Director of the Institute. During the 50-ies of the last century the Institute reached notable successes in the fundamental and applied science which lead to major structural I organizational changes. In 1947-1948 new departments were founded as Biology of Reproduction headed by Prof. Kiril Bratanov, Departmen of Physiology and Endocrinology headed by Prof Rashko Prahov, Department of Biochemistry headed by Prof. Kamen Josifov, Department of Physiology and pathology of new borns headed by Prof. Krum Gerov, Department of Pathology of Reproduction headed by Prof. Georgi Georgiebv. Later the Laboratory of microbiology headed by Prof. Marin Balchev was founded. During that period, the Institute elaborated technological instructions for in vitro fertilization in animals and prepared many specialists. Due to this activity, for the first time in Bulgaria, the in vitro fertilization of farm animals was introduced as a routine method. In 1961 the Institute was renamed to Institute of Biology and Pathology of Reproduction and joined the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. At that time intensive work on the adaptation and new biotechnologies, for example the pellet technique of cryopreservation of bull semen in animal husbandry was performed in Bulgaria. In the period till 1969, the method of assisted fertilization with frozen semen from livestock was introduced in Bulgaria under the scientific direction of specialists from the Institute. During 12 years (1963-1975), the Institute was a part from the Academy of Agricultural Sciences. In 1976, the Institute of Non-infectious Diseases and Zoohygiene joined the Institute, and then it was renamed to the Biology and Immunology of Reproduction and Non-infectious Diseases. Thereafter, scientific approaches to cryopreserve the semen from bulls, rams, boars were elaborated.

In 1976 the Institute was returned back to the structure of the Bulgarian Academy of sciences under the name of Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction and Development of Organisms. As a result of the reforms undertaken by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in 1994 the Institute was renamed to Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction (IBIR). All these years in spite of the numerous changes of the names the Institute had as its director Prof. Kiril Bratanov who had been a member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences until his decease in 1986. Because of his great merits for the successful development, prosperity and international recognition of the Institute, in 1987 it was decided the Institute to be renamed once again as Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction “Acad. K. Bratanov” which is its current name. (more detailed information is available in the book “70ty years IBIR – a glance in the past”, page 50-64)

To acknowledge the life, work and 100 years anniversary since the birth of Acad. Kiril Bratanov, the Bulgarian Ministry of Transport, Information technologies and Communications have issued a post cards envelope (1615 pieces) with the image of Acad. Bratanov. The envelope is marked with special postage stamp (view), the symbols of reproduction reflecting the scientific domain of Acad. Bratanov’s work and the sentence “100 years anniversary from the birth of Acad. Kiril Bratanov”

Acad. K. Bratanov initiated the organization of the First International Symposium of Immunology of Spermatozoa and Fertilization (September 27-29, 1967) in the International House of Scientists “J.Curie” near Varna, Bulgaria. Participants from 21 countries laid the foundations of the first international scientific organization called International Coordination Committee of Immunology of Reproduction (ICCIR) registered in Paris and Sofia with its residence in the Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction. (more on the site of ICCIR www.iccir1967.com)

After Acad. Bratanov’s death in 1986, Prof. Simeon Simeonov became the director of IBIR (1986-1989). After his retirement in 1990 the directorship was consequently taken by Prof. Lyubomir Kanchev (1990-1996), Prof. Ivan Kehayov (1996-2000), Prof. Rayna Georgieva (2001-2006), Assoc. Prof. Margarita Mollova (2006-2010) and Prof. Dimitrina Kacheva since 2011.

  Prof. Simeon Simeonov Director (1986-1989)   Prof. Lyubomir Kanchev
Director (1989-1996)
    Prof. Ivan Kehayov
Director (1996-2000)
   Prof. Rayna Georgieva
Director (2001-2006)
   Assoc. Prof. Margarita Mollova
Director (2006-2010)
    Prof. Dimitrina Kacheva
Director (2011-2014)
    Prof. Maria Ivanova, DVM, DSc Director (2014-2018г.)    Professor Dr. Soren Bohos Hayrabedyan, Director 2018 –

Establishing of a new domain in the medico-biological science – Immunology of reproduction

The Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction “Acad. Kiril Bratanov” from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the International Coordination Committee of Immunology of Reproduction (ICCIR) and the regularly organized International Symposia of Reproductive Immunology in Varna have a substantial contribution for the foundation and the success of the interdisciplinary medico-biological scientific domain of reproductive immunology in the world. This statement is evidenced by the following facts and events:

1. In 1949 Acad. K. Bratanov and his co-workers published the first paper in the world literature about the correlations between the infertility and sperm antibodies in animals (“On the production of sperm antibodies in the organism of farm animals”, Annual Report of Veterinary Medicine Faculty, Sofia University, v. XXVI, 321-334, 1949) which is recognized the fundamental paper for the new scientific field – Reproductive Immunology. For the first time in this study were shown:

  • The significance of immune factors in the reproduction
  • The existence of anti-spermatozoa reactive antibodies in the body

These findings are of major importance for the human and animal reproduction, reproductive and fundamental immunology.

2. In 1967, Prof. Bratanov and his coworkers organized the First International Symposium of Immunology of Spermatozoa and Fertilization (September 27-29, 1967) in the International House of Scientists “J.Curie” near Varna, Bulgaria, summarizing all scientific aspects in reproductive immunology.
Hundred-fifty scientists from 21 countries from all over the world including representatives from WHO and FAO participated at the Symposium. Many famous scientists namely R. Edwards, F. Rumke, A Voisin, M. Hashek, B. Boetcher, I Sokolovska, R Popivanov and S. Shulman were also present. For the first time scientific reports on reproductive immunology were shown on a specially organized scientific Symposium.

3. During this first International Symposium, the first international scientific organization called International Coordination Committee of Immunology of Reproduction (ICCIR) was established. Its President was K. Bratanov (Bulgaria), Vice-president S. Shulman (USA), General secretary – R. Edwards (England), Secretary I. Sokolovska (Russia), Treasurer – A. Eikem (France). ICCIR was registered in Sofia and Paris and was the first scientific organization with its residence in the Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction. After the death of Acad. K. Bratanov and a 10 year break due to economic reasons the Institute renewed the tradition of the Varna Symposia and the 8th International Symposium of Immunology of Reproduction was held in Varna (October 12-14th, 1997) and Prof. R.Georgieva was elected as a President of the International Coordination Committee of Immunology of Reproduction.
ICCIR has two major purposes:

  • To coordinate the scientific work on reproductive immunology
  • To organize International Symposia in the International House of Scientists “J.Curie” near Varna, every 3 years

Twelve Symposia have been organized and performed by ICCIR and IBIR. The 13th International Symposium of Immunology of Reproduction will be held in Varna on July 22-24, 2012. (see more on the site www.iccir1967.com )
During the first Symposium in Varna 1967 for the first time in the world history, Dr. Robert Edwards (England) reported for the possibility of in vitro fertilization of human oocyte. Later Dr. Edwards along with surgeon Dr. Steptoe performed the first implantation of in vitro fertilized egg, which led to the birth of the first test-tube baby in 1978, Louise Brown.
Prof. Edwards, who was one of the founders of ICCIR and its first general secretary, was awarded 2010 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine – “For the development of in vitro fertilization”. During the official ceremony in Stockholm’s Royal Caroline Medical Institute on December 7th, 2010, Mr. Martin Johnson presented the lecture of Dr. Robert Edwards entitled “Bob Edwards and IVF: The Early Days”. In his lecture Dr. Edwards underlined the importance of reproductive immunology and the foundation of ICCIR in Varna, Bulgaria. He showed pictures with Prof. Bratanov from the founder session of ICCIR in 1967, which was an evidence for Dr. Edwards close professional contacts with Prof. Bratanov and mutual work with IBIR. The role of Prof. Bratanov and IBIR for the development of the reproductive immunology was clearly stated and the Bulgarian scientific school in this topic was recognized and acknowledged.

4. During the days of the 3rd Varna Symposium (1975) due to the initiative of the Bulgarian scientists lead by Prof. K. Bratanov, the International Society of Immunology of Reproduction was created (ISIR). At that time Acad. K. Bratanov was elected for President of the association. Nowadays the association has many members from all over the world and continues to organize international meetings every 3 years. Members from ICCIR and ISIR are regularly elected for leaders of ISIR association. In 2007, Prof. R. Georgieva from IBIR, Bulgaria was elected as General Secretary of ISIR.

5. In 1993 scientists from IBIR founded the European Association for Reproductive Immunology in Magdeburg, Germany. This association has many members and every year organizes international meetings which are also attended by IBIR scientists.
As a token of their appreciation of the achievements of Acad. K. Bratanov his pupils and collaborators have initiated the establishment of Honorary Medal “Acad. K.Bratanov” which is awarded to scientists with broadly recognized achievements for the progress of reproductive biology and immunology.

The entire activity of IBIR and ICCIR including the organization of 12 international Symposia on Reproductive Immunology, the participation in the leadership of International Associations and the regular participation in scientific meetings on Reproductive Immunology results in increasing popularity and recognizabilty of IBIR-BAS and Bulgaria in this scientific topic.

It must be noted that in 1986 at the closing session of the 3rd International Congress of Reproductive Immunology in Toronto, Canada, the outstanding scientists Mr. Rupert Billingham said:
 “…let’s not forget that if it was not Bulgaria and our good friend Kiril Bratanov, we would not be here gathered together as a scientific society dealing with such and important matter as the reproductive immunology…”
In conclusion, leading world scientists accepted that the new interdisciplinary scientific domain of medico-biological sciences namely Reproductive immunology has been initiated in Bulgaria.

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