Sergio Jorge Pastrana was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1950. He graduated from the School of Letters and Arts of the University of Havana in History of English Literature and Culture in 1975, and he has done postgraduate studies at the Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Cuba. His interests in international cooperation relate to the history of early international contacts of the Cuban scientific community and its influence on the building of national scientific capacity in Cuba, a subject on which he has published and lectured both in Cuba and abroad.
Pastrana has been involved in the establishment and coordination of international programmes of cooperation of the Academia de Ciencias de Cuba since 1975 and has acted as Secretary to the Cuban National Committee for the International Council for Science (ICSU) since that year. In 1983 he was appointed as head of the Department for Academic Cooperation of the Cuban academy. Since the late 1970s he has participated in the organization and was responsible for the implementation of international cooperation programmes between the Cuban Academy of Sciences and sister institutions. Notably, he coordinated efforts and organized the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Cuban academy and the Smithsonian Institution, USA, in 1980 that set a foundation for the continuation and formal recognition of a scientific research link that was originally started in mid XIX century by those two institutions.
Since then he has been a promoter and leader of research activities by partner institutions in Cuba and the USA. In 1992, he led the first delegation of Cuban Scientists that established initial links with The Nature Conservancy; in 1994, he signed the first Memorandum of Understanding between the Cuban academy and the New York Botanical Garden; he prepared and implemented the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1998 between the Cuban academy, the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Sciences Research Council; he led the Cuban delegation to the Planning Conference of the Harte Research Institute for the Study of the Gulf of Mexico in 2001; and finally signed the 2014 Memorandum of Understanding that formalized links that existed since the early 1990s between the Cuban Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS).
From 1992 to 1996, Pstrana was the first representative of the Government of Cuba to the Implementing Committee, and eventually to the Executive Council, of the Inter American Institute on Global Change Research (IAI). In that capacity he was one of the founding leaders of that institution.
From 1994 to 1996 he was appointed as Deputy Director for International Cooperation at the Ministry for Science, Technology, and Environment of the Republic of Cuba.
Since 1996 he has been Foreign Secretary of the Cuban Academy of Sciences; he has served in different commissions and boards for Cuban scientific institutions and societies; and presently he is a member of the Advisory Commission on International Relations of the Minister for Science, Technology and Environment of Cuba.
He is a member of the Cuban academy since 2006. He is also a member since 2000, and honorary member since 2010, of the Caribbean Academy of Sciences. He was president of the Caribbean Scientific Union, an organization of all academies of sciences of the Wider Caribbean Basin, from 2005-2007. He is a representative of the Cuban Academy of Sciences to the Executive Council of IAP - the global network of science academies (now IAP for Science) since 2003, where he has been directly involved in the group coordinating initiatives on biosecurity for twelve years, and presently chairs the Membership Committee.
He was the representative of the Cuban Academy of Sciences to the organization of the Inter American Network of Academies of Sciences (IANAS) in 2004, and since its establishment has been a continuous representative there.
Pastrana was a member of the executive committee of the International Council for Science (ICSU), 2005-2014, and was ICSU vice-president for External Relations 2012-2014, where he led efforts towards the coordination of activities among international organizations of scientists.
Since 2010 he is the executive director of the Cuban Academy of Sciences.