Scientific communication, collaboration and progress are enhanced through the exchange of data, materials and ideas. Recent advances in technology, commercial proprietary discovery and current local and global events (e.g., emerging human, animal and plant disease outbreaks) have increased the demand, and shortened optimal timelines for material and data exchange, both domestically and internationally. Specific circumstances in each case, such as the type of material being transferred (i.e., select agent, disease-causing agent and assessed biosafety risk level) and current events, dictate the level of agreements and requirements. Recent lessons learned from emerging disease issues and emergencies have demonstrated that human engagement and increased science diplomacy are needed to reinforce and sustain biosafety and biosecurity practices and processes, for better scientific transparency. A reasonable and accepted framework of guidance for open sharing of data and materials is needed that can be applied on multiple cooperative levels, including global and national. Although numerous agreement variations already exist for the exchange of materials and data, regulations to guide the development of both the language and implementation of such agreements are limited. Without such regulations, scientific exchange is often restricted, limiting opportunities for international capacity building, collaboration and cooperation. In this article, we present and discuss several international case histories that illustrate the complex nature of scientific exchange. Recommendations are made for a dual bottom-up and top-down approach that includes all stakeholders from beginning negotiation stages to emphasize trust and cooperation. The broader aim of this approach is to increase international scientific transparency and trust in a safe and open manner, supporting increased global one health security.
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