Sanctions should not apply to biomedical research

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Sir

I was pleased to read your News Feature “The brains trust of Tehran” (Nature 435, 264–265; 2005), which reminded me, and probably many young Iranian scientists raised after the revolution, of our enthusiasm for scientific research at university, despite access to only the most basic of equipment.

It is disappointing for me to see the effects that the sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States are having on basic biomedical research. In the example cited in your News Feature it took four years for the Iranian lab to secure equipment for neuronal recordings. I understand that the United States would not welcome scientific achievements in fields such as nuclear science or space technology for fear that they could be used to make weapons of mass destruction. But I believe other scientific fields, especially biomedical ones, should be exempt from these sanctions.

Local research on endemic diseases such as haemophilias, thalassaemias and oesophageal carcinoma may lead to new preventive and therapeutic insights beneficial to patients in Iran and worldwide; sanctions should not apply to this kind of work. I do not think it is difficult to differentiate such activities from those used to further geopolitical and governmental goals, and I would like to see the US government reconsider some of its scientific embargos against Iran.

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Jalili, A. Sanctions should not apply to biomedical research. Nature 436, 460 (2005) doi:10.1038/436460a

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