Of course, there were significant challenges. Movement of biological materials was difficult and was not always sufficiently considered in the development of projects. Some laboratory facilities and vivariums in Russia needed to be upgraded to meet U.S. standards, an issue not always sufficiently considered at the outset. Some Russian laboratories were reluctant to consider cooperation, or such cooperation was discouraged by governing agencies in Russia. Publication of results in international journals was difficult (or a low priority) for some Russian laboratories. This topic deserved discussion at the outset of projects.
There were enthusiastic reviews by almost all participating scientists on both sides. Of the 50 Russian projects, 40 were extended beyond the initial 3-year period, thus providing good evidence of support by collaborators and the authorities from both countries. Many Russian institutes benefited from improved physical facilities and equipment provided through the cooperative projects. However, this statistic does not adequately reflect the strength of the personal relationships formed and the value of such relationships to future research and transparency in science.
Sustainability of projects remains an issue. Few mechanisms for funding of applied projects in agriculture exist in either Russia or the United States. Many promising collaborative projects ended. They could have been continued on a productive basis if financial support had been available. While limited support has been obtained for a few projects, the level of collaboration is unlikely to reach earlier levels.
The original program was considered successful in achieving its objectives, and some aspects of the program can serve as models for future collaborative efforts. At the same time, however, sustainability of research programs in this field is not likely in the absence of a continuing source of government funding.
SOURCE: Information provided by Agricultural Research Service, March 2012.