However, the committee has identified promising areas of research for consideration by governments and the private sector as priorities for collaboration. Then action-oriented political decisions, supported with financial commitments, at senior levels of the two governments are needed to implement recommended approaches, if the uniqueness of the U.S.-Russian relationship in the life sciences is to be maintained.
Given the benefits from U.S.-Russian bioengagement activities that have been repeatedly recorded in recent years, the committee recommends continuation and, to the extent possible, expansion of U.S.-Russian programs that have been considered by the sponsors and the participants in the two countries to have been successes and hold promise for even more fruitful rewards in the future. Much of the focus will probably be on themes wherein Russian strengths are recognized internationally as complementing capabilities of the United States, which is the global leader in many fields.
The current portfolio of current bioengagement projects includes only a few activities directed primarily to nonproliferation or science-infrastructure enhancement in Russia, the main emphasis when bioengagement was on the rise in the early 2000s. The several activities that are currently directed to these objectives are devoted in large measure to transferring U.S. experience to Russian institutions that are rapidly accepting the responsibility and financial burden for their own activities. At the same time, however, there is increased appreciation in both countries of the importance of strengthening public health and agriculture production systems on a broad basis for not only achieving health and food goals but also contributing to achievement of security and environmental objectives. Most projects that are currently in place are intended to meet goals of the future without clinging to outdated objectives of the past. Such forward-looking projects deserve special attention as the overall character of the U.S.-Russian relationship continues to evolve.
Second, the committee recommends establishment of a bilateral research fund to enable highly qualified specialists in the two countries to join together in new collaborative endeavors at the leading edge of the life sciences. The emphasis is on strengthening basic research, which is essential in providing the ideas and skills for eventually taking scientific achievements to the public- and private-sector markets. In each country, strong research capabilities should undergird development of biotechnology efforts that are internationally competitive and in time should become self-supporting. Many highly qualified research institutions in the two countries have demonstrated their capabilities to be stable and reliable focal points for productive bioengagement. The new fund, which would build on these capabilities, is discussed later in this chapter. Illustrative research areas that are particularly attractive for collaboration are identified.