COVID-19 & International Scientific Collaboration

A Statement from the Academy project on Challenges for International Scientific Partnerships


As the United States continues its fight against COVID-19, international scientific partnerships will become increasingly essential for understanding the virus and developing effective pandemic responses. We, as leaders of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences initiative, Challenges for International Scientific Partnerships (CISP), urgently call for continued and additional collaboration between the U.S. and international scientific partners in this critical time.

Important lessons on disease management can be learned from around the world as each nation brings its expertise and experience to bear on addressing this crisis. In some countries, testing and case-tracking have been extensive. In others, previous experiences with other highly contagious diseases such as Ebola and SARS have informed their pandemic preparedness and response. Scientists from around the world are intensively studying the virus to understand its nature, variations, and vulnerabilities. Collaboration with both well-established and emerging international scientific partners alike is critical.

We are heartened by those who have already taken steps to engage and champion the international scientific community. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine have called for international cooperation during the COVID-19 pandemic. American scientists are collaborating with their international colleagues at unprecedented levels during this crisis, working to better understand COVID-19 and to develop treatments and vaccines. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has begun to engage in conversations with national science ministers and chief advisors, and we are encouraged to see that they intend to maintain contact over time to exchange information on disease management strategies. We hope that U.S. policymakers and scientists will continue and expand these efforts to engage with the international scientific community and to broadly support collaboration.

We urge the U.S. to act as a leader within the international scientific community in coordinating a global pandemic response, and we discourage nationalistic or competitive approaches that could threaten the efficacy of efforts to coordinate. CISP argues firmly that international collaboration is essential for scientific advancements across disciplines and at all scales. An essential working group of this project similarly calls for expanded and improved collaboration with emerging science partners in low- and middle-income countries to provide vital insight and expertise on scientific challenges that the U.S. faces.

This pandemic is a crisis, and its impact will be felt by all, regardless of social, economic, or political background. Addressing COVID-19 will be a major fight of our lifetimes, and we should come together as a global community to mitigate the threat this virus poses to society. We must learn from the experiences and knowledge of our international scientific colleagues as the U.S. remains fully engaged as a leading member of the community.

Signed by Project Cochairs
Arthur Bienenstock
Emeritus Professor of Photon Science
Associate Director, Wallenberg Research Link
Stanford University

Cochair, CISP
Peter Michelson
Professor of Physics &
Senior Associate Dean for the Natural Sciences
Stanford University

Cochair, CISP
Shirley Malcom
Senior Advisor & Director of SEA Change
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Cochair, Emerging Science Partners CISP Working Group
Olufunmilayo Olopade
Professor of Medicine & Director, Center for Global Health
The University of Chicago

Cochair, Emerging Science Partners CISP Working Group

To learn more about Challenges for International Scientific Partnerships, an initiative to identify policy recommendations and best practices to mitigate challenges for international science collaborations, visit