FAPESP and West Virginia University discuss cooperation

Terms to define the agreement for joint support of science and technology research projects will be established beginning Monday, October 29.

Officials from West Virginia University (WVU) and the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) will begin to discuss the terms of a letter of intent (memorandum of understanding) next week that will lead to a science and technology cooperation agreement between the two institutions. FAPESP will send the initial document to WVU administration over the next few days. Founded in 1867, WVU brings together on one campus 32,0000 students in such fields of study as medicine, law, social sciences and economics, a tradition that has encouraged interdisciplinary research and scientific collaboration within the institution itself.

University researchers and FAPESP representatives took part in a forum held in Morgantown, WV on Wednesday, October 24, as a way to begin contacts regarding opportunities for research collaboration in various fields. They started with an overview of research projects currently underway, some in partnership with Brazilian universities.

According to José Sartarelli, Dean of WVU’s College of Business and Economics, there are many avenues to be explored. During the opening of Wednesday’s meeting, Sartarelli stated, “We have over 100 partnerships with international institutions all over the world and we would like to show the administration at West Virginia University new opportunities that may be explored by coming together with FAPESP.”

“We’re here to seek cooperation opportunities between students from academic and research institutions in São Paulo and West Virginia University,” said Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, Scientific Director of FAPESP. His presentation described the setting for conducting scientific and technological research in the state of São Paulo. He highlighted the scope of São Paulo’s science, technology and innovation, as well as the mechanisms and investment capacity of FAPESP. “Universities based in São Paulo graduate 12,000 PhDs each year, and the state’s scientific output in terms of number of scientific articles published by its researchers constitutes nearly 50% of all Brazilian science.”

According to Brito Cruz, the number of opportunities created by FAPESP is growing. It includes post-graduate grants, support for conducting regular projects as well as thematic projects (of longer duration and larger teams) and the program for Young Investigators in Emerging Institutions. The foundation also has partnerships with major companies in Brazil and abroad such as Microsoft Research, Vale, Natura, Boeing and GSK, in addition to its support to small businesses. More than 1,000 small businesses have benefited from this support, and its impact on their growth and the creation of new jobs has been documented in periodic assessments conducted by the foundation.

The exchange programs offered through international agreements traditionally signed between FAPESP and foreign institutions could also be included in an agreement with West Virginia University. Along these lines, FAPESP offers grants to Brazilian researchers abroad that enables them to attend international conferences and engage in short-term internships (2-12 months) outside of Brazil.

For researchers from other countries to Brazil, FAPESP selects proposals for post-graduate grants supported under the Young Researchers Program – last year, 1.5 per week were approved in all fields – support for visiting professors and participation in the São Paulo Advanced Sciences School, and short-term courses on specific topics at São Paulo institutions. The Excellence Chair Program, still in the pilot stage, is another way to attract distinguished foreign scientists for 3-month intervals over a 2-5 year period at one of São Paulo’s many institutions.

Research at WVUThe symposium held in Morgantown included the discussion of research in the area of economics, medicine, chemistry, genetics, biochemistry and engineering. Richard Riley from the College of Business discussed research into the relationship between business competitiveness and a company’s fraud prevention. The project included the development of two databases covering the period 1995-2010 to support its studies.

Kenneth Showalter from the Department of Chemistry presented collaborative studies with researchers from Brazil, highlighting FAPESP supported cooperation with professors from the Federal University of the ABC (UFABC) on complex systems that involve researchers from 15 countries. In other collaborative studies with the University of São Paulo (USP) São Carlos campus, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and other Brazilian institutions, Professor Showalter described the cooperation as a way to achieve excellent results, many published by him and his collaborators in high impact journals like Nature.

Projects in the fields of engineering, oriented towards innovation, and functional genetics were also part of the forum. In the field of medicine, translational studies were presented that included the use of scientific discoveries in patient treatment as well as the development of methods to implement and disseminate the latest knowledge affecting public health and the public health system.

FAPESP Week 2012

FAPESP Week 2012 in North America, held to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of FAPESP, is the second international round of scientific meetings designed to foster closer links between distinguished researchers in their areas of expertise, discuss research underway and develop new cooperative projects. The event was first held in Washington, DC October 24-26, 2011.

Officially opened in Toronto, Canada October 17, FAPESP Week 2012 included three other symposiums: Boston, MA, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) October 22; the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC October 23; and West Virginia University October 24.

The program also included the exhibition entitled “Brazilian Nature: Mystery and Destiny” in three cities, with the exception of Washington, DC where it was on display last year. At West Virginia University, the exhibition is open to students, professors and the general public for five days.

Schedules and additional information about the events are available at www.fapesp.br/week2012/northamerica