It's party time for United States-Soviet scientific relations, as perestroika lifts the curtains of the Cold War. In recent months, so many scientists have traveled between the two countries that Soviet-watchers have lost count of the numbers. The words "joint venture" are on everyone's lips, as researchers-turned-entrepreneurs struggle to market Soviet scientific know-how to the world.

But these cheerful developments are haunted by the USSR's worsening economic woes, which have made it increasingly difficult in the last few years for Soviet researchers to obtain basic scientific gear ranging from chemical reagents to restriction enzymes - not to mention fancy Western computers and copying machines.

The opening of the Soviet market has meant a rush of high-tech joint ventures, in which U.S. and Soviet entrepreneurs undertake common profit-making businesses. In November BIOS Corp. a New Haven, Conn., biotech firm, signed a tentative agreement with the Soviet Ministry of Health to start...

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