One of the many wonderful gems in Moscow is the Metro. Built by Stalin in the 1930's, it was designed to inspire the young Soviet Union to a better future by building stations which were "palaces for the people". Help and advice was drafted in from London Underground, the oldest underground system in the world. It began operations itself 150 years ago this year, in 1863. Unlike the London Underground, the stations have high ceilings with chandeliers held up by marble columns and granite walls decorated with beautiful coloured mosaics. Other materials such as cast bronze, steel and brass were used in statues to exemplify the Communist Party's vision of collective power and strength. With Stalin's denunciation later on in the 1950's, many of the icons of his era were removed to be replaced with images of the rising star, Lenin. New stations with more modern art are still being built today.
In he afternoon, I was taken to visit the Russian Research Centre for Neurology. It is in a hospital for neurological patients in the Moscow suburbs and was taken over during the communist era for secret research of a non-medical kind.The scientists there were more or less under house arrest until the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990's when it reverted to being a hospital once more.
I met with a lady professor of neurology who was doing MND research and her fledgling consultant neurologists. I thought I must be getting old because they all looked far too young to be qualified, let alone consultants. I was later relieved to find out that in Russia, doctors become junior consultants in their chosen field 2 years after completing basic medical training. They were very polite and welcoming and showed me around various departments including a sophisticated rehabilitation unit with computer-led biofeedback mechanisms for graded exercise following neuro-debilitative illness and told me about research into electromagnetic therapies for improvement of neurological pathologies of various types. It was great to hear that several of the young doctors were coming to the training seminar the following weekend. Then it was back on the Metro for another art display.