How you can help Ukrainian scientists and other refugees – UPDATED

I could not agree more with the members of ASCB’s International Affairs Committee (IAC) who wrote recently, “The shocking invasion and destruction of Ukraine is unbearable. The situation is worsening daily including targeting the innocent people of Ukraine. Consequently, the invasion brought too many unnecessary deaths and forced millions of Ukrainians to leave the country. Our thoughts and sincere sympathy are with the people of Ukraine.”

The willingness of ASCB members to open their hearts and labs to colleagues in need is one of the many things that makes the ASCB community so exceptional. I am sure many of you would jump at the opportunity to offer bench space in your lab to a Ukrainian colleague. Regrettably, the complexities of war often complicate our best intentions. 

ASCB members in Europe should consider offering to host Ukrainian scientists in their labs. Our colleagues at EMBO are assembling a list of labs able to provide lab or office space, accommodations, or other help.

The United States government has placed strict parameters on the ability of Ukrainians to come to the United States. Only 100,000 visas have been made available and those entering will be considered as seeking permanent residence. Therefore, I urge U.S.-based ASCB members to consider contributing to the U.S. National Academies of Science Safe Passage Fund.

At the start of the war, the Polish Academy of Sciences joined with the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences to help place Ukrainian scientists in Polish research institutions. Initial funds for that project were quickly exhausted. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has launched the Safe Passage Fund to help provide additional funds for the efforts of the Ukrainian and Polish academies of science. Members in other parts of the world may want to contact their national science academy or local institution to see what opportunities are available.

The needs of the citizens of Ukraine are significant and we must be sure that we are helping in the most practical way possible.

You may have your own favorite charity, but you may also want to consider donating to one of the following organizations that are providing relief to all Ukrainian refugees:

World Central Kitchen (WCK) ( is providing meals to Ukrainians as they cross the border into Poland, Moldova, and Hungary. WCK is also helping to provide meals for those in 12 Ukrainian cities.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has medical teams in Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia, Russia, and Belarus to provide medical care to Ukrainian refugees.

Ukrainian Crisis Relief Fund ( (UCRF) is a project of GlobalGiving, which connects nonprofits, donors and companies. Donations support humanitarian assistance in impacted communities in Ukraine and surrounding regions where Ukrainian refugees have fled.

*WCK, MSF, and UCRF have received a 4-star, “Give with Confidence” recommendation by Charity Navigator (, an organization that evaluates charities.

About the Author:

ASCB President Martin Chalfie is University Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University.