Nuclear Weapons

Promoting Mutual Security and Development through Bioscience Cooperation

06.18.08 | 3 min read | Text by FAS & Cheryl Voss

Yesterday the CUBRC Center for International Science and Technology Advancement held a symposium entitled “Promoting Mutual Security and Development through Bioscience Cooperation”. The meeting focused on ways to promote cooperation and networking across organizations to create a more prosperous and secure world.

Dr. Leonard Marcus of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard University began the day by discussing the qualities of leaders that successfully link disparate groups and organizations.His remarks were especially relevant considering the diverse background and expertise of individuals and organizations involved in cooperative bioscience projects.

The first panel session of the day was titled “Integrating Development and Security” and featured Mr. Brian Finlay of the Henry L. Stimson Center, Dr. Anwar Nasim from the Committee on Science and Technological Cooperation, and LT Kristofer Sandor of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.Mr. Finlay stressed the importance of balancing military expenditures with diplomacy resources in the context of UN Resolution 1540.Dr. Nasim discussed a number of networks and partnerships developed in Pakistan that focus on biotechnology and biosafety issues.LT Sandor concluded the panel by explaining the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program operated by the Department of Defense and associated agencies.

The second panel, called “Relationship Building-The Bioscience Frontier”, included Mr. Terry Taylor from the International Council for the Life Sciences (ICLS), Dr. John Kilama from the Global Bioscience Development Institute (GBLI), and Dr. Larry Beach from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).Mr. Taylor spoke about global networks of individual life scientists, and how the power of these networks can be exploited to create successful partnerships that would otherwise be impossible due to political differences.He specifically mentioned a program focused on disease surveillance in the Mekong delta in Southeast Asia and a public health collaboration between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Territories.Dr. Kilama described the efforts of GBDI in training professionals from developing countries of the importance of bioscience in economic development.He specifically mentioned the “bioeconomy” and the importance of cross-discipline training people with different backgrounds and expertise.Finally, Dr. Beach described efforts by USAID to improve crops for the developing world.

After lunch, Dr. Kendra Chittenden from the Department of State discussed a new generation of Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs being developed outside of Russia and the former Soviet Union.These programs are being developed in regions with high biological research capacity, high disease load, and the potential for high terrorist activity.In particular, she mentioned activities underway in Pakistan, the Middle East, Africa, and South America.

The final panel of the day focused on “Sustainability through Broad-Based Access to S&T”, and featured presentations by Ms. Arlen Hastings of the African Regional Initiative in Science and Education, Dr. Floyd Horn from The Institute for Comparitive Genomics, and Brian Sant Angelo of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.Ms. Hastings described how her program is working to provide PhD training and capacity building to understaffed universities in Africa, with a focus on the sciences.Dr. Horn used the example of screwworm bio-containment to highlight the importance of building programs that are sustainable, engage important constituencies, and have a concrete exit strategy.Mr. Sant Angelo concluded the meeting by discussing the Medical Initiative Program, which uses unique funding mechanisms to finance the export of U.S. products to the developing world.

At the end of the day, the symposium was successful because it emphasized ways that groups can network together to achieve results beyond what any individual can achieve alone.The program also highlighted a number of non-obvious ways in which organizations can work together to promote both global security and development goals.