Cambridge and Brazil discuss possibilities for further scientific collaboration

Publicado em 19/06/2013
University of Cambridge, em 18/06/2013

 

A delegation comprising some of Brazil’s most senior researchers and science administrators was in Cambridge on June 7 to take part in a half-day seminar, “Cambridge-Brazil: Opportunities for a strategic partnership.”

The group was led by Prof Jorge Guimarães, President of Brazil’s federal agency for the support of post-graduate education and research (CAPES), a division of the Ministry of Education; and by Prof Paulo Beirão, Director of Agricultural, Biological and Medical Sciences of Brazil’s national research council (CNPq), part of the Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation.

Supported by CAPES, by the Brazilian embassy in London, and by the UK embassy in Brazil, the event sought to identify opportunities for Cambridge-Brazil research collaboration in biological sciences, medical sciences, and physical sciences and technology.

Welcoming the Brazilian delegates and over sixty Cambridge attendees at Clare College’s Gillespie Centre, Prof Lynn Gladden, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, emphasised the University’s interest in pursuing collaborative opportunities with the world’s best researchers in strategic fields of knowledge. She welcomed the chance to explore ways of supporting the growing number of links established by Cambridge academics with their Brazilian counterparts.

Prof Guimarães told the audience that CAPES takes very seriously the opportunity of fostering collaboration with Cambridge–as shown by the fact that most of the Brazilian academics invited to join the delegation were full members of the Brazilian Academy of Science, one of the highest forms of scientific distinction.

Representing the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), Prof Beirão reminded the audience that, although science is relatively young in the country, Brazil has been catching up fast by investing significantly in its science base, and has already attained world excellence in certain fields of knowledge –represented by the National Institutes for Science and Technology (INCTs), which CNPq supports. A closer research relationship with a world-leading university like Cambridge would, he hoped, bring benefits to all.

Following the opening remarks, simultaneous breakout sessions were held during which panellists from Cambridge and Brazil offered overviews of their research interests and suggested possible areas for further collaboration.

The session on Biological Sciences included presentations by Prof Geoffrey Smith, Head of Department of Pathology; Dr John Carr, Senior Lecturer in Plant Sciences; Prof Steve Oliver, Director of the Systems Biology Centre; and Dr David Sargan, from the Department of Veterinary Medicine. Their Brazilian counterparts were Prof Ricardo Gazinnelli, of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), and coordinator of the INCT for Vaccines; Prof Mauro Martins Teixeira, also of UFMG, and coordinator of the INCT for Dengue; and Prof Maria de Fatima Grossi de Sá, plant biotechnology researcher at Brazil’s national agricultural agency, EMBRAPA.

Physical Sciences and Technology were represented by Prof Lindsay Greer, Head of Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy; Prof Jeremy Baumberg, Director of the Nanophotonics Centre; Prof Simone Hochgreb, Professor of Experimental combustion at the Department of Engineering; and Dr Sophie Jackson, Reader in Biophysical Chemistry. They shared the panel with Prof Carlos Aragão, Director of the Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM); Prof Luiz Davidovich, quantum physicist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; Prof Alvaro T. Prata, mechanical engineer at the Federal University of Santa Catarina and currently Secretary for Technological Development and Innovation at the MCTI; and Prof Virgilio Almeida, computer scientist at UFMG and Secretary for Information Technology Policy at the MCTI.

The session on medical sciences involved Prof Christopher Rudd, from the Department of Immunology; Dr Kenneth Seamon, Development Director for Science at the Cambridge Cancer Centre; and Dr Thais Minnet, Senior Research Associate, Institute of Public Health. They discussed potential areas for collaborative work with Prof Jorge Kalil, Director of the Immunology laboratory at São Paulo’s InCor hospital; Prof Guilherme Kurtz, Head of Pharmacology at Brazil’s National Cancer Institute; and Prof Kleber Gomes Franchini, Director of the National Laboratory for Biosciences (LNBio), in Campinas.

The breakout sessions and closing remarks were followed by a buffet lunch, during which attendees were able to discuss their research interests with the Brazilian delegates.

As immediate follow-up to the event, the International Strategy Office and Research Strategy Office are collecting and collating feedback from panellists and attendees. The purpose is to create a list of research themes and modes of engagement that Cambridge researchers would find most useful as they seek to establish or deepen research links to Brazilian scientists.

After comparing priorities and interests, CAPES and Cambridge will identify areas of research that CAPES is likely to support through the provision of funding for researcher mobility and for the organisation of thematic workshops. This initial form of support, it is hoped, will allow collaborators in Cambridge and Brazil to tap other sources of funding for joint research projects.

For enquiries, please contact Dr Ángel Gurría-Quintana, International Strategy Office (angel.gurria@admin.cam.ac.uk).

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