In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic that has raged all over the world for nearly three months, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has made great efforts to continue its research cooperation with international institutions. Through video conferences, academic seminars were successfully held with the National Australian Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA), the National Academy of Sciences, United States, and the John Innes Centre, JIC, laying a foundation for future cooperative projects.

The epidemic could not stop international scientific and technological cooperation.

Since the epidemic first arose the Internet has played an important role in promoting scientific exchanges between countries. Scientists in China and abroad believe that a long-term online dialogue mechanism should be established to promote scientific prevention and control of COVID-19 through academic exchange.

1. CAS president attends 23rd annual meeting of the UNCSTD

At the invitation of the Secretariat of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD), Bai Chunli, President of CAS and the Alliance of International Science Organizations in the Belt and Road Region (ANSO), attended the 23rd annual meeting of the UNCSTD by video conference on June 11 and made a keynote speech under the theme of “Exploring Space Technology for Sustainable Development and Carrying Out Related International Cooperative Research”.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made us realize more than ever before the importance of solidarity, international cooperation and the need for science and innovation in our fight against our common challenges,” Bai said. “The epidemic also poses major challenges to food security in many countries.”

The availability and transparency of crop information is a challenge for developing countries as they lack their own crop monitoring and analysis systems. An important monitoring system is urgently needed to promote scientific decision-making and ensure food security. CAS boosts strong advantages in remote sensing satellite earth observation and is actively establishing cooperation with developing countries in crop monitoring.

The global crop monitoring cloud platform (CropWatch) independently developed by CAS can help developing countries obtain agricultural information and crop monitoring and analysis through remote sensing data. The platform used in countries along the “Belt and Road” such as Mozambique has achieved remarkable results and helped increase their access to food information.

Bai also introduced the progress made by CAS in the fight against the novel coronavirus and more information about ANSO. He announced that within the framework of the UNCSTD and ANSO cooperation, the ANSO agricultural yield estimation innovation plan will be launched and more efforts will be made to promote the application of CropWatch through training, technology transfer, and localization. Ministers of science and technology and representatives of scientific research institutions from Egypt, Botswana, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Japan, as well as officials of relevant UN agencies attended the meeting. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published a special report on the meeting on its official website.

2. CAS and CSIRO collaborate on various research fields

CAS and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) held five thematic workshops online from June 16 to June 24. Focused on climate change impact, sustainable agriculture, health and biotechnology, nanotechnology and new energy materials, and marine science and the blue economy, participants shared experiences, exchanged ideas, and conducted in-depth discussions on the progress of project cooperation between the two organizations in the above-mentioned fields as well as the direction and model of future cooperation. Around 150 scientists and researchers from CAS and the CSIRO participated in the workshops.

3. CAS and MPIA hold video meeting on fight against novel coronavirus

CAS and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) held a video seminar on scientific research cooperation against the novel coronavirus on May 13. CAS introduced research progress in combating COVID-19, focusing on its basic research in structural biology, viral biology, and drug mechanism. It also outlined the results of vaccine research, drug research and development, and animal model establishment. It shared with the German side two databases — “2019 Novel Coronavirus Information Database” and “Novel Coronavirus National Science and Technology Resource Service System”. The MPIA introduced its efforts to fight against the epidemic, research and develop vaccines and drugs, and presented its establishment of animal models, development of mathematical prediction models, and psychological assistance programs. The two sides said they will further strengthen scientific interaction and seek cooperation opportunities in basic novel coronavirus research.

4. CEPAMS renews cooperation agreement for another five years

The CAS-JIC Centre of Excellence for Plant and Microbial Science (CEPAMS) jointly established by CAS and the John Innes Centre signed a new five-year cooperation agreement on April 27 to continue their scientific research cooperation in the fields of food security and natural medicinal products. The CEPAMS was jointly established by the CAS Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (CAS-IGDB), the CAS Center for Excellence in Innovation in Molecular Plant Sciences/Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, and the John Innes Centre in 2014. Since its establishment, the CEPAMS has employed nine long-term researchers including three foreign individuals in Beijing and Shanghai, and launched 29 bilateral cooperation projects. In addition, it has published 19 cooperative papers in international journals, such as Science and PNAS.

5. Chinese and American institutions hold video meetings on COVID-19 prevention and control

From May to June, CAS, the National Academy of Sciences, United States, the American Academy of Medical Sciences and other institutions in the United States held a series of video conferences on COVID-19 prevention and control. Over 30 experts discussed COVID-19 patient treatment and management, measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, steps to restart society, and the experience of fighting against the epidemic.

6. CAS-CEA Sino-French Carbon Cycle Forum takes place

CAS and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) held a video academic seminar on carbon cycles on June 23, in which scientists from both sides exchanged ideas on thermal catalysis, photo/electric catalysis, and biocatalytic carbon dioxide conversion. More than 40 people from China and France attended the meeting. A kick-off video conference about the seminar had been held nearly one month earlier, on May 26.

7. Superconducting quantum computation makes progress

A research group from CAS’s Institute of Physics, Zhejiang University and RIKEN in Japan has successfully performed quantum simulation of dynamical phase transitions in a Lipkin-Meshkov-Glick model with a 16-qubit superconducting quantum simulator. The results were published recently in the international academic journal Science Advances. The current tasks accomplished by quantum simulation are still within the calculation range of computers, and the main purpose of the experiment is to show that the quantum computation platform can operate according to the expected quantum mechanics. With the growth of the number of qubits, the future quantum simulation will be able to accomplish tasks that cannot be predicted and tested by computers, and its role will be irreplaceable.

8. Cutting-edge scientific research cooperation on Central Asia Tajik Basin early cenozoic strata

With the joint funding of the National Natural Science Foundation of China General Program (No. 41672158), “the Second Comprehensive Scientific Investigation of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau” special project (2019QZKK0602), the Natural Science Foundation of the United States Project (EAR-1450917), and the German Helmholtz Federation Youth Fund Project (PD-301), the research team of Academician Chen Fahu with the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Institute of CAS, and the Asian inland dust and drought research team of Associate Professor Wang Xin at Lanzhou University’s Key Laboratory of Western Environment of the Ministry of Education conducted in-depth research work on the Central Asia Tajik Basin early cenozoic strata. Through cooperation with a number of research institutions in the United States, Germany, and Tajikistan, the scientists found the inland climate environment in Asia has produced significant east-west differentiation since around 25 million years ago and part of the Pamir-Tianshan mountain ranges may have risen to a critical height (about 3000 meters above sea level) that can produce a circulation effect. The research reveals that the Pamir-Tianshan tectonic uplift and its mechanical diversion of westerly circulation are the main reasons for the formation of the inland climate and environmental patterns of Asia.

9. Scientists collaborate on the origin of domestication of alpaca and llamas

The Institute of Zoology of CAS cooperated with scientists from Cardiff University, the United Kingdom, Universidad del Bío-Bío, Chile, and other domestic and foreign scientific research institutions to publish a research paper titled “Genomic analysis of the domestication and post-Spanish conquest evolution of the llama and alpaca” online on Genome Biology (, on July 2. The paper explains the origin of alpaca and llamas, discovers a wide range of asymmetric gene infiltration between the two species, and reveals the changes in the traditional local animal husbandry management methods in South America caused by the Spanish conquest from the perspective of domestication.

Source: Bureau of International Co-operation, Chinese Academy of Sciences

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