In addition to the United States, other countries have also joined with Russia in combating infectious diseases. These bilateral and multilateral efforts indicate that the international community clearly recognizes the profound global implications of biology-related developments in Russia. These programs have also had a significant effect on Russia’s approach to these issues as well. Within the context of Russian participation in Western initiatives over the past decade, the Russian government’s vision for the nation’s future in public health and related fields has evolved. Policies designed to realize that vision are significantly influenced by approaches advocated by western partners and demonstrated through programs funded internationally.
In addition to a vision for the future, the Russian government has developed a conceptual framework for strengthening the public health system of the country on a continuing basis. Relevant ministries are also well aware of the need to develop more coherent policies and programs for combating agricultural diseases, for promoting research and development, and for supporting the emergence of biotechnology firms. But implementation of such efforts is severely constrained financially, therefore international support will continue to be important.
Against this background, in 2003, a committee of the National Research Council (NRC), building on a decade of promoting U.S.-Russian engagement in biological research, initiated this study to be conducted in close consultation with Russian colleagues. The objective was to set forth a realistic vision for the development of the biosciences and biotechnology in Russia over the next ten years. The committee was to consider practical steps that could be taken independently by Russia, or collaboratively with international partners, to move toward achievement of that vision. The Nuclear Threat Initiative, a private foundation, and the NRC provided financial support for the study.
This report presents the findings and recommendations of the committee developed over the course of the multi-year study. It addresses both contributions to peaceful scientific, economic, and social development of Russia’s biology-oriented institutions and the prevention of the misdirection of materials and expertise to terrorist groups or to states seeking biological weapons capabilities. In general, a strong public health system, coupled with an active research base and a commercially viable biotechnology sector, can contribute to the achievement of both goals. The development of an infrastructure to help control infectious diseases and the potential contributions of international cooperation to support such an infrastructure are the focal points of this report.
The specific charge to the NRC committee responsible for this study was as follows:
This project will present a 5 to 10 year vision of an environment in Russia for biological research and production activities that encourages efforts to prevent bioterrorism and the proliferation of potentially dangerous biological agents and expertise while addressing relevant public health, agricultural, industrial, environmental, and scientific challenges. The project will address both: (1) the