News: News Archives
Austrian Visitor Gains U.S. Policy Insight;
Provides Information on European Science
During her stay as a visiting scholar at AAAS, Sabine Herlitschka found new ways to help scientists collaborate across national borders, on everything from nanotechnology, to medicinal plants in Uzbekistan.
In a lecture on 14 May at AAAS, Herlitschka discussed the "tremendous opportunity" for encouraging science and technology cooperation across national borders, a job she takes on as the Deputy Director of the Austrian Bureau for International Research and Technology Cooperation, or "BIT."
"These are contacts scientists don't necessarily have. And that's where [BIT] comes in," she said.
BIT is a non-profit agency, funded by the Austrian government and the Austrian Economic Chamber, that helps Austrian researchers and their international partners receive funding from the Research Framework Programme, the European Union's main instrument for research funding in Europe.
The need for facilitating this kind of collaboration is especially important as research becomes ever more interdisciplinary. Say you're an immunologist who has just developed a vaccine for SARS, Herlitschka explains. To help make your vaccine available to the public, you'd need to collaborate with researchers studying how the disease spreads, as well as with health care providers, and others who could produce the vaccine to name just a few. And, these potential collaborators may not live in your country.
During her stay in Washington, Herlitschka has been observing how AAAS works on international scientific cooperation and discussing specific opportunities for BIT and AAAS to work together. AAAS's science and policy programs have attracted visitors from Norway, Bulgaria, and Russia to learn about how AAAS carries out its mission of enhancing international scientific cooperation, according to Betty Kirk, Program Director in the International Office.
In her presentation, Herlitschka described how the EU's 6th Framework Programme works, and the opportunities it offers for transatlantic collaboration. She also discussed how Eastern European countries, which are slated to join the EU by next May, have been incorporated into the Framework Programme, with help from BIT. The Framework Programme is a 4-year, $17-billion research initiative that includes, among its goals, "the development of world-class human resources in all regions of the [European] Community."
"I think that Sabine provides a very European perspective on what the EU is doing," said Kirk.
Herlitschka's visit has shed light on some key differences between European and U.S. approaches to scientific collaboration.
"Aiming science and technology toward specific outcomes, such as goals for sustainable development, is a struggle in the United States. For new approaches and collaborations, we turn to our international partners, which is why visits such as Sabine's are so constructive," added Shere Abbott, AAAS Chief International Officer.
Herlitschka has considered her visit to be extremely productive.
"I'm not just sitting here observing. I have met many people here and been asking them lots of questions," she said. "…The feedback has been very good. Already there are a number of activities and initiatives under discussion."
16 May 2003