The Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences, is the oldest Russian center for the Oriental studies dating back to 1818 when the Asiatic Museum was founded as an academic library of manuscripts and documents in various Eastern languages. In 1930, it was reorganized into the Institute of Oriental Studies (IOS). After the headquarters were moved to Moscow, in 1950, the manuscripts collection was left in Leningrad/St Petersburg and a Branch of the IOS was formed. In 2007, it was given an independent status as the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts aimed mostly at pre-modern Oriental studies and researching and preserving its rich collection of about 100,000 mss in about 65 living and dead Eastern languages. Dunhuang, Tangut, Arabic, Mongolian collections are among its most important parts. The IOM RAS holds also the vast Archives of the Orientalists on the basis of which the first Russian Museum of Oriental Studies was opened, in 2011.
Dr. Irina Popova is the Director of the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, RAS, from 2003. She is also the Professor of Chinese History and Language at St Petersburg State University, the Faculty of Oriental Studies. She was admitted to Leningrad State University in 1978 in the Faculty of Oriental Studies, the section of the History of China. In November of 1983, she started her doctoral studies at the Leningrad Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies. Three years later, she joined the staff of the Institute as a junior researcher first. In 1988 she got a Ph. D. degree for the thesis on the Theory of the Rulership in the Early T'ang China. In 2000 she holds the Habilitation degree. Her major research area covers political thought, government and administrative system of medieval and especially T'ang China, study of Dunhuang and Chinese mss kept at the IOM RAS, archival documents on Russian Sinology.