The theme of this thesis is how to organize bilateral academic collaboration. By using one particular case, the University of Oslo, Centre for Medical Studies, Russia, I will focus on how a successful academic collaboration between two countries was achieved on a practical level.
The Centre for Medical Studies was established in 1993 with the purpose of facilitating and coordinating research collaboration between Russia and Norway. The Centre is a small institution within the Medical Faculty of the University of Oslo with administrative headquarters in Oslo and two representative offices in Russia, one in Moscow and one in Saratov. At present the Centre s administration consists of an academic and an administrative head, an executive officer and a medical writer. This staff is dedicated to ensuring the optimal functioning of the Centre s activities, which are research collaboration in fundamental biological sciences and network- building through educational projects between the medical communities of our two countries.
By establishing the first representative office of the Centre at the Institute of Gene Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow the aim was to recruit selected Russian biological scientists to collaborate with Norwegian colleagues while allowing them to perform their research work in their home country and institution. Today, among the staff of the representative office in Moscow there are sixteen researchers and a senior scientist, an executive officer and a driver. They are all employees of the Russian Academy of Sciences but are engaged by the Centre for a certain period of time. Apart from performing scientific projects, both representative offices contribute to the Centre s network-building activity and hereby facilitate processes where medical specialists can present the results of their scientific activities on joint medical symposia and workshops for each other and, eventually initiate joint clinical trials. Student and specialist exchange programmes are other important aspects of the Centre s network- building strategies and are also effectuated with the help of the Centre s contacts with some of the most prestigious medical universities of the Russian Federation. Funding is mostly secured through contributions from the Norwegian government. I focus on this case because the Centre represents a highly successful example of academic collaboration between two countries. Its accumulated results include 146 financed researcher working years and 167 articles also published in international journals (scientific collaboration) in addition to 50 accomplished joint symposia and workshops (network-building). My claim is that the vision to establish a competent and dedicated organization which exclusively works to provide adequate funding and practical support so as to create new contacts and maintain old ones inside the medical communities of both countries has been a success and has borne important fruits.
In this thesis I will describe the actual functioning of the Centre with the particular aim of analyzing those challenges which were present at the establishment of this bilateral academic collaboration. It is just as important to shed light on the grounds for the necessity of securing the success of the Centre.