Interactions with Foreign Institutions & Scholars

Page Updated: July 12, 2023

University leaders published a blog posting on September 12, 2019 reiterating UW – Madison’s commitment to international research collaborations. Resources listed below are intended to help answer your questions related to working with foreign institutions and scholars.

The resources listed below can assist in answering questions related to work with foreign institutions and scholars. The University has an International Resources website with additional information.

If you have general questions, you can email

External Influence & Interest Reporting

Contact: Stephanie LeRoy or Sam Leinweber at the Conflict of Interest Program

To ensure that any potential conflicts of interest—foreign or domestic—are identified and managed appropriately, research personnel must accurately disclose covered financial and business interests, activities, and support on their Outside Activity Reports (OARs), in accordance with the Conflict of Interest Policy. Specifically, researchers must disclose on the OAR:

  • Compensation
  • Ownership Interests
  • Leadership Roles
  • Academic Appointments with Other Institutions
  • Travel (federally funded researchers only)

See the COI Office website for additional guidance on what to report.

Grant Proposal Information (e.g., Current and Pending Support)

Contact: Mark Sweet at the Research and Sponsored Program

Investigators are personally responsible for including in their Current and Pending Support (or other relevant) sponsored projects documents all sources of foreign support consistent with the funding agency’s requirements. NIH, in particular, currently states: “Other Support includes all financial resources, whether Federal, non-Federal, commercial or institutional, available in direct support of an individual’s research endeavors, including but not limited to research grants, cooperative agreements, contracts, and/or institutional awards. Training awards, prizes, or gifts do not need to be included.” As noted in NIH director Collins’ letter, there have been instances reported nationally of investigators failing to properly report sources of foreign support for their research. NSF and other agencies have also voiced concern. Failing to report other sources of domestic or foreign support increases the likelihood that the same or closely related research could be funded more than once, and increases the potential for allegations of fraud, as well as overlap in intellectual property obligations to employers and the government. Careful attention to the specific requirements of an individual Funding Opportunity Announcement/FOA is warranted.

Disclosure of Other Support Policy

Proper Handling of Peer Reviewed Proposals

Contact: Mark Sweet at the Research and Sponsored Program

Investigators involved in the peer review process are expected to follow the stringent confidentiality requirements of proposals undergoing review. NIH director Collins also reported instances (nationally) of study section reviewers inappropriately sharing proposals undergoing peer review with domestic and foreign collaborators.

Invention Disclosures

Contact: The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Under UW–Madison Intellectual Property Policies and Procedures for University Research, all inventions discovered by faculty, staff, or students on appointment while pursuing their university duties, or on university premises, or with university supplies or equipment must be disclosed to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). See UW System Administrative Policy 346. Once an invention is disclosed, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research will conduct an equity review to ensure that the proprietary rights and responsibilities of the University, our personnel, and outside parties are honored.


Contact: April Cook at the Gift Management, Division of Business Services

Disclose to the Office of Business Services and the Export Control Office any gift solicitation with foreign organizations or entities in compliance with the University’s Administrative Gift Funds Policy.

International Travel

University employees travelling internationally for business are not required to register with the University. However, there are several things to be aware of and resources available to make your international travel safe and compliant with University guidelines and federal laws.

Health Concerns

It is recommended that employees check with their health provider well in advance of any international travel to ensure all necessary vaccines are up to date. Be aware if specific vaccines are required/recommended for your destinations these often must be given a month or more before travel.

Traveling with Technology

Using laptops, email, and other technology outside the U.S. can entail elevated risks of data compromise or loss. For best practices to mitigate these risks, see the University’s page on Safe Computing when Traveling Abroad and Bringing Tech Devices Through Customs. The Export Control Office provides additional Export Control Considerations for International Travel.


Contact: Ron Machoian at the UW-Madison International Safety and Security Director (ISSD)

UW-Madison’s International Division provides resources and support for university-sponsored student travel. It is important that student travelers – undergraduate, graduate or professional, in any program of study – read and understand the UW-Madison International Travel Policy before planning travel. Additionally, it must be remembered that UW System policy requires all students who travel abroad under university sponsorship to enroll in CISI, the university’s medical, health and evacuation insurance. Information on the International Travel Policy and CISI enrollment can be found along with many other resources and links on the UW-Madison international safety and security website:

Please contact John Jay Miller or Bethany Nelson at the Export Control Office with any questions about traveling with technology, travel destination, activities and items that may be exported.

Export Controls & Sanctioned Countries and Entities

Contact: John Jay Miller or Bethany Nelson at the Export Control Office

Federal export regulations govern shipments and release of certain sensitive commodities, technologies, and software to non-U.S. locations and persons. In addition, economic sanctions rules can significantly affect educational and research activities involving certain countries and entities. The University is committed to compliance with these requirements, and personnel are encouraged to review the Export Control Office website and contact the Export Control Officer with any export questions or concerns.

Import/Export of Tangible Research Materials and Biological Samples

The FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies have increased their surveillance efforts to identify transport of research materials and verify that those exports comply with federal laws. We’re told that these efforts are part of a nation-wide enforcement action to control the transport of biological materials that may present a threat to our national security, or reduce the theft of intellectual property developed in the US, much of it with federal funds.

Biological Research Materials

Contact Ann Larson at the Office of Biological Safety,

Laboratories that plan to import or export biological-source research materials should first contact the UW-Madison Office of Biological Safety at or 608-263-2037. Permits from federal agencies in the U.S. are often required for import or export of such materials. Specific language is often required on shipping documentation for incoming items that don’t require an import permit. If laboratories are exporting biological materials, the recipient should verify that they are in compliance with the destination country’s applicable import regulations. In addition, individuals that are shipping biological materials may be required to have a current biological Hazardous Material Shipping certification.

Sending Tangible Research Materials Outside the U.S.

Contact: Robert Gratzl or Vasanthi Pillai at the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

When sending tangible research materials outside the U.S., researchers must ensure that the materials are sent out under a material transfer agreement (MTA). The process for putting an MTA in place may be initiated by completing a RAMP record for Outgoing MTAs. Questions can be sent to

International Agreements

Contact: International Agreements Manager

The International Division works closely with faculty and staff to develop and fully execute non-research-related international agreements, which typically are non-monetary documents that formalize an institution-to-institution partnership with a foreign entity (e.g. Memorandum of Understanding). UW–Madison does not require international agreements, but sometimes an international collaborator requires one before a grant proposal can be submitted or research collaborations can proceed. The International Division is responsible for ensuring international agreements generate mutual benefit, set realistic expectations, manage risks, adhere to campus, state, and federal policies, and are signed by someone with authority to sign on behalf of UW–Madison. The International Division’s International Agreements resource page provides additional information about developing and executing international agreements.

Foreign Visiting Scientists and Scholars

Contact: Jennifer Taylor at the International Faculty and Staff Services

Foreign scientists and scholars are a welcome addition to our campus, and the University supports such collaborations. Departments are responsible for verifying the employment eligibility and/or proper U.S. immigration status of their visiting scientists and scholars. Please contact International Faculty and Staff Services for assistance with any immigration or visa-related issues.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs recommends using the Incoming Visiting Scientist Agreement form to help protect your visitors and the University.