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AAAS President Peter Agre Leads Delegation to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for Talks on Academic Science Collaboration

A non-governmental delegation led by AAAS President Peter C. Agre, a Nobel laureate in chemistry, has arrived in Pyongyang for five days of talks with scientists and officials in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The six-person delegation of the U.S.-DPRK Science Engagement Consortium aims to discuss and identify future opportunities for collaborative research activities in fields of mutual interest.

Distinct from other delegations that travel to the DPRK for humanitarian, economic, or nonproliferation purposes, this delegation will be the first significant effort to engage in a comprehensive effort focused on science cooperation.


Peter C. Agre

The consortium is composed of four organizations: the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), a nonprofit organization that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration; AAAS, the world’s largest general science society; Syracuse University, which has been engaged with Kim Chaek University of Technology in Pyongyang in the only sustained U.S.- North Korea academic science collaboration to date; and The Korea Society, a nonprofit group that promotes greater awareness, understanding and cooperation between the people of the United States and Korea.

Collectively, the four organizations have decades of experience successfully establishing and advancing international scientific collaborations, including with the DPRK. The Richard Lounsbery Foundation provided funding for the trip and is also represented on the delegation.

“We will be meeting with scientists, university and science policy officials to explore practical opportunities for exchange and collaboration,” said Agre, director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute. “This visit is a crucial step in the process.”

The delegation arrives in Pyongyang on the same day, 10 December, as the winners of the 2009 Nobel science prizes receive their awards in Stockholm, Sweden.


Cathleen A. Campbell

“We are hopeful that these meetings will show decision-makers and interested parties in the U.S. and in the DPRK that progress in science engagement can be made by leveraging the diverse resources and capabilities of several unique and complementary institutions,” said Cathleen A. Campbell, president and chief executive officer of CRDF, which serves as the consortium secretariat. “We hope that our efforts will identify and support future collaborations.”

In addition to Agre and Campbell, the delegation members include: Maxmillian Angerholzer III, executive director, Richard Lounsbery Foundation; Linda Staheli, senior associate and consortium secretariat, CRDF; Stuart Thorson, Donald P. and Margaret Curry Greg Professor, the Maxwell School, Syracuse University; and Vaughan Turekian, chief international officer and director of the Center for Science Diplomacy at AAAS.