Washington DC: USAID and NIH

During my visit to Washington DC we met two US organizations, USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and National Institutes of Health NIH.

USAID is the lead US Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. At our meeting with the Programme Director forthe Higher Education Solutions Network at the Office of Science & Technology, we discussed possible collaborations and heard about the work within their Global Development Lab, which aims to increase advances in science and technology, as well as innovation and partnerships to help end extreme poverty. Sweden’s SIDA organization is co-financing the development labs, which gives us a good common ground on which to start collaborating on a university level. With the Programme Director we discussed possible collaborations between Lund University and USAID, in different fields like food security and sustainability etc. Both Lund University and Universitas 21 (U21) could collaborate, giving students grand challenges for skills development in order to help in underdeveloped areas.

We discussed focussing on real issues identified by different communities, in particular in Africa, in order to implement university research on global challenges in practice. Lund University and U21 could perhaps find ways of collaborating here. The possibility of having a workshop with USAID in 2016 was discussed. Further planning will follow!

NIH, National Institutes of Health, was our next port of call. At the Fogarty International Center  we met the European Regional Affairs Officer and the Director of Science Policy, as well as representatives of the Office of Extramural Policy. The contact with NIH is important to Lund University, as well as other Swedish universities, as we are amongst the few that get direct grants from the organization. Currently grant capture is about 6%. NIH do not want to discourage top flight research proposals even though there is such a low chance of success. This was a clear message to our researchers.

The Office of Science Policy (OSP) identifies important emerging policy issues that affect biomedical research, but also looks into a broad range of scientific, ethical, legal, social, and safety issues. We discussed the tricky question of open access publication and open access data. The NIH shared a new plan that was published this spring, and which was the fruit of a great amount of consultation and socialization within the research communities and now is being referred to federally and by the US Congress. Together with the OSP we will investigate the possibility of a joint workshop around open data and open access publication – possibly with Nordic universities and Universitas 21, with Lund taking the lead.


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