ABSTRACT In 1961, the USA severed diplomatic relations with Cuba, and in 1962 an embargo was imposed on trade and financial relations with that country. It was not until five decades later that the USA and Cuba would reestablish relations. This opened the way for the New York State Trade Mission to Cuba in April 2015, during which Cuba’s Molecular Immunology Center and Buffalo, New York’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute signed a formal agreement that would set in motion biotechnology research collaboration to address one of the most important causes of death in both countries. Significant research from Cuba led to this groundbreaking collaboration. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the development of this cooperation, from the Molecular Immunology Center’s initial investigations, through the opening of a phase I clinical trial at Roswell Park Cancer Institute with therapies developed at the Center. This cooperation was responsible for the first clinical trial for CIMAvax-EGF involving advanced-stage non-small cell lung cancer patients in the USA. A license was also approved by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control authorizing a commercial partnership for development of biotechnology products, combining the cancer research efforts of both institutions. This unusual collaboration between Cuba and the USA—the US economic embargo and travel restrictions not withstanding—opens good prospects for expanded medical research between the two countries. While political and logistical challenges remain, the shared mission and dedication of these Cuban and US scientists points the way towards relationships that can lead to development, testing, approval and use of promising new therapies for cancer patients.