Ukraine's science system stands to benefit from its association with the European Union (EU) Horizon 2020 flagship research programme (Nature http://doi.org/4kq; 2015). But it has problems beyond funding: the re-election of Boris Paton as president of Ukraine's National Academy of Sciences at the age of 96 is symptomatic.
We are involved in an initiative to boost cooperation between the EU and Ukraine in biomedicine (COMBIOM). In our view, this will be difficult as long as young scientists feel that they are being held back by the rigid Soviet-style system run by scientists of the old school. Early-career researchers want to gain experience abroad and have little incentive to return.
Ukraine's science system must be made more competitive. It should reward young scientists who have international expertise and enable them to lead research teams. It should encourage job flexibility and contracts for academy researchers, and identify strategies and research areas to optimize scientific development. It should create institutions that specialize in those areas, and appoint an independent body of EU researchers and Ukrainian scientists abroad to evaluate internal funding applications.
Such measures would create a healthy scientific community and promote Ukraine's integration with the European Research Area.