Cuban-U.S. Research Collaborations Easier Now

President Obama’s executive actions remove some of the red tape for American and Cuban scientists to work together.

Oct 18, 2016
Kerry Grens

FLICKR, DIDIER BAERTSCHIGERBeginning this week (October 17), US-based researchers will find it easier to collaborate with Cuban counterparts on medical projects, thanks to executive actions issued by President Barack Obama. Among other provisions, the new rules also allow for Cuban drug developers to seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to sell medications in the U.S.

“These changes are intended to expand opportunities for scientific collaboration by authorizing certain transactions related to Cuban-origin pharmaceuticals and joint medical research,” according to a press release from the US Department of the Treasury. The Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security “are making these amendments in support of the process of normalizing bilateral relations with Cuba.”

According to ScienceInsider, Cuban researchers could receive US federal funds for research endeavors. “If it’s truly feasible to use federal grants to support Cuban research, then everybody wins,” immunologist Thomas Schwaab, the chief of strategy, business development, and outreach at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, told ScienceInsider. “Cuban science has taken a completely novel approach to immunotherapy, and they have developed totally different solutions.”

Previous attempts to get authorization to collaborate were confusing and complicated, but as ScienceInsider reports, it is still unclear “whether Cuba’s own regulations will pose unanticipated constraints.”