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Computational Biology in Developing Countries

Last Friday marked the publication of the next installment in PLoS Computational Biology‘s ‘Developing Computational Biology’ series, a set of perspectives written by authors in developing countries regarding the state of computational sciences in their nations. Friday’s is particularly interesting, as it explores the situation in Cuba. We had some concerns at first whether we could even publish a piece from Cuba, seeing as American editing of Cuban work had been previously considered an activity punishable by imprisonment. Luckily, however, a lawsuit had been filed against the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) in 2001, which caused OFAC to reverse this policy and allow Americans to “engage in all the activities that are necessary and incident to publishing works from authors in Iran, Cuba and Sudan without the need to apply for a government license except in very limited circumstances”.

Our perspective explores the current situation of scientific research in Cuba, which is strongly affected by the trade embargo (which the UN recently once again called to lift), as scientists have to import all of their equipment from Europe or Central and South America. Computational biology can alleviate this problem somewhat, as the reliance on computational power and human resources rather than expensive wet lab supplies can provide an opportunity for young researchers to learn and progress.

We are very proud of this series of perspectives; other articles have focused on Brazil and Mexico, and ones to come include Argentina, China and Thailand.

Please have a read of the perspective on Cuba and let us know your experiences of the sciences in developing countries.

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