WITH AMERICAN restrictions on travel lifting, interest in Cuba has skyrocketed, especially among scientists considering developing collaborations and student exchange programs with their Caribbean neighbors. But few researchers in the United States know how science and higher education are conducted in communist Cuba. Undark met with Dr. Mitchell Valdés-Sosa, director of the Cuban Neuroscience Center, in his office in Havana to learn how someone becomes a neuroscientist in Cuba, and to discuss what the future may hold for scientific collaborations between the two nations.
Mitchell Valdés-Sosa is the chief executive and co-founder of the Cuban Neuroscience Center (CNEURO), established in 1991.
Visual by R. Douglas Fields
It is helpful to appreciate some of the ways that higher education and research operate differently in communist Cuba. In contrast to the local institutional and individual control of decisions in the U.S., the central government in Cuba makes career and educational decisions for its citizens. Scientific research is directed by authorities to meet the needs of the developing country, and Ph.D. dissertation proposals must satisfy this goal for approval. Much of the graduate education takes place in biotechnology companies and research centers that are authorized by the government — a situation resembling internships in the U.S. Development, production, and marketing of products from biomedical research and education are all carried out in the same center, and the sales of these products provide financial support to the institution.
To read the full article on Undark Science Magazine see: