entrepreneurs in the two countries and opportunities for international outreach. Both governments recognize that the technological futures of their countries are increasingly in the hands of new generations of scientists and are giving them special incentives to become leaders of initiatives of the government, such as priority for involvement in the laboratories at Skolkovo. At the same time, the U.S. scientific community continues to rely on the unbounded energy and ideas of fresh graduates of leading U.S. universities to find new trails through the challenges of biotechnology at home and abroad. Of course, continued involvement in joint activities of experienced managers, scientists, and other specialists, who are recognized leaders in their fields, is important. But the preparation of their successors for international leadership roles is of comparable importance.
Turning to biosecurity in the broadest sense, there are opportunities to strengthen and build on bilateral foundations that have been put in place during the past two decades. Now there is widespread concern that past achievements may atrophy with the changing status of the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) and the declining budgets in the United States for support of Russian-oriented programs. New bilateral mechanisms to carry on the work initiated through the ISTC can increase the likelihood that momentum in gaining common understanding on biosecurity issues throughout the states of the former Soviet Union will not decline significantly. The roles of the United States and Russia will be at the center of the debates over successor mechanisms for cooperation to the ISTC. While these discussions will continue to be multilateral efforts, common U.S.-Russian views will be important in determining the outcomes of preliminary consultations that are under way.
The United States and Russia have the deepest histories in the world in dealing with extremely potent pathogens, and their experiences provide a strong basis for partnerships. The degree to which they cooperate directly will have a profound influence on the international community’s attitudes and actions concerning the handling of pathogens and associated technologies that, if misused, can lead to catastrophes.
Bilateral cooperation between two countries that have been at the center of heated international debates over biosecurity obligations of state parties to the BTWC is important in overcoming the weaknesses of the BTWC. As the international community searches for acceptable procedures for compliance with the BTWC and related UN resolutions, U.S.-Russian collaborative efforts can continue to play a catalytic role in crystallizing common interests.
Through bilateral cooperation, the two countries can effectively contribute to the broad international agenda for addressing biosafety issues. These issues include, for example, (a) routine handling of dangerous pathogens; (b) responses to unanticipated health and safety problems that can arise when handling pathogens; (c) the need, criteria, and guidelines for establishing and operating high-containment facilities; and (d) coping with accidents involving a wide range of dangerous pathogens.