The American Physiological Society Press Release

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APS Contact: Stacy Brooks


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Cuban and American Physiological Societies Sign Historic Agreement for Research Collaboration

Bethesda, Md. (May 14, 2015)—On Tuesday, April 28, the leadership of the American Physiological Society (APS) and the Cuban Society of Physiological Sciences (SCCF) met in Havana to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU), formalizing an agreement for the exchange of scientific information and resources between the two organizations. APS hopes that this relationship will facilitate more global interactions among Cuban, American and other international physiologists.

The agreement was signed by APS President Patricia Molina, MD, PhD; APS Past President David Pollock, PhD; APS Executive Director Martin Frank, PhD; SCCF President Alberto J. Dorta Contreras, PhD; and Director of the Cuban National Council of Scientific Societies of Health Pedro Luis Veliz, MD.

This partnership fits as part of APS’s goal of sharing breaking physiological research to inform medicine today and inspire the medical advances of tomorrow. “Both the American and Cuban physiological societies have a lot to learn from each other’s experiences, having worked in very different cultures for many years. During my visit, I was very impressed by the passion and knowledge of physiology and scientific inquiry in Cuba,” Dr. Pollock said.

In addition to having an active research community, Cuban medical institutions attract a number of international students, making it a significant destination on the global medical education stage. Havana will also be the site of the 2nd Annual Pan-American Congress of Physiological Sciences in 2019.

“We had a great experience, met some inspiring students and scientists and left with hope and conviction that this partnership was the right step for us to take,” Dr. Molina said. “The creative and courageous approach [Cuban researchers] have used to address health care issues and implement translational science at their Neuroscience Institute, and their eagerness to cooperate and develop approaches to bring the two societies together, will fuel our initiative.”

As part of the MOU, APS will send a delegation of physiologists to Cuba to foster collaboration between the countries.  “A number of Cuban physiologists are exploring areas of research that parallel what researchers in the U.S. are studying,” Dr. Frank said. “Making these international connections can be essential for advancing new findings and areas of research. As a professional membership organization, part of our job is to set the stage for collaboration between our members and other researchers and provide support for their efforts.”

The opportunities for international collaboration are scheduled to begin very soon. “We’ve already extended an invitation to a physiology specialist in training (a four-year traineeship in physiology that follows completion of the MD degree) to participate in a workshop sponsored by APS in Guatemala this summer. We believe that small steps at the personal level will be catalysts of what could be a strong collaborative initiative between Cuban and American physiologists,” Dr. Molina said.

According to the agreement, APS will also provide updates on a wide range of topics in physiology to help Cuban students and faculty keep up to date on the current state of physiological research. APS will facilitate access to its collection of 14 scientific journals and to the Life Science Teaching Resource Community. The Society will also provide guidance on procedures for submitting manuscripts to research journals and for avoiding ethical publishing pitfalls.

“I firmly believe that personal contact among scientists provides benefits that cannot be gained from simply reading the literature or even sending emails. It is my hope that as our governments improve relations, we as physiologists will be there to grow and develop strong and lasting relationships,” Dr. Pollock said. “Science should know no boundaries as we all strive for new discoveries that can improve the human condition.”

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,500 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.