Common interests in the characteristics of large geographical areas, common commitments to pursue responsible science, and unrivaled experience in jointly addressing some of the most challenging biological developments in recent decades provide a strong basis for collaborative efforts of the future. Both countries have invested heavily in changing cold-war hostilities in the biological sciences into productive relationships that have involved thousands of specialists and hundreds of institutions. Now is the time to capitalize on the vast networks of personal and institutional relationships. It is not the time to walk away from investments that provide a unique foundation for future achievements that will benefit the two governments, the populations of the two countries, and the global scientific community.
The positive impacts of bioengagement activities in many areas of security, education, the economies, and the social lives of the two countries have been extensive. Indeed, many new dimensions have been added to the U.S.-Russian political and economic relationship through such engagement activities. Continuation of successful programs and initiation of new activities are in order.
The number of activities need not rival past numbers. But they should be at a level that will continue to provide continuing access by specialists of both countries to highly relevant activities in the other country. Joint programs should provide opportunities for laboratory, field, and academic partnerships in both countries.
2 Individual investigators with appropriate skills who are prepared to pursue cooperative activities over the long term greatly increase the likelihood that cooperative activities will pay off for both countries.
While past engagement activities have been organized largely on the basis of interests of institutions in the two countries, the most successful projects have usually relied heavily on individual scientific leaders who have taken responsibility for ensuring successful outcomes of complicated programs. These leaders should be selected with care. Among the primary selection criteria should be technical and managerial capabilities, skills in relationship building, and commitments to continue efforts for extended periods of time.
3. Exceptionally well-qualified scientists, who are conducting research and related activities during the early stages of their careers and therefore are in positions to effectively promote continuation of international programs, should have greater opportunities to participate in important bioengagement activities sponsored by the two governments.
The future leaders of science can bring new ideas and new vitality to bioengagement. They can help ensure that cooperation looks to advancing technological opportunities and is not frozen by nostalgia for outmoded methodologies of the past. Also, their involvement will provide a strong foundation for developing approaches that have high probability for being continued over the long term.