FAPESP opens symposium in North Carolina

Scientists from Brazil and the United States are meeting at two conferences to broaden the exchange of research in various fields

by Karina Toledo, in Charlotte

Agência FAPESP – Tasked with the mission of promoting collaboration between Brazilian and U.S. scientists, the sixth edition of the FAPESP Week international symposium began Monday morning (11/11) in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The ceremony was held in the auditorium of the Harris Alumni Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina (UNC), in Charlotte, and included FAPESP Scientific Director Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, Director of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Paulo Sotero, and Professor of the Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics, Daniel Janies. Also in attendance was the Dean of the Graduate School at UNC-Charlotte, Tom Reynolds.

“I’ve been involved with organizing FAPESP Week since it began in 2011, and the event has been held all over the world,” said Janies, one of the facilitators of the symposium’s first edition held in Washington, DC, while still a professor at Ohio State University’s College of Medicine.

Janies went on to say, “We’re going to gather together the information collected here today about possibilities for collaboration, distribute it among the leaders from UNC-Charlotte and work on establishing joint proposals. I already had this experience when I was in Ohio and it was very successful. The world of science is universal-it transcends culture. We’re all interested in the same problems around the world and working together can be very important in solving them.”

Sotero, who as head of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars took part in organizing the three FAPESP Week editions held in the United States, underscored how important it is for people involved in education and the production of knowledge to take part in “building bridges across democratic societies” such as Brazil and the United States. “I believe initiatives like FAPESP Week are even more important now and I’m happy to be a part of it,” he said.

Brito Cruz then presented an overview of science and technology in the state of São Paulo and in Brazil as a whole. He also talked about the mechanisms offered by FAPESP that enable researcher exchanges with other countries, through postdoctoral fellowships, Visiting Researcher grants, Young Investigator’s grants, the São Paulo School of Advanced Science program (ESPCA) and the São Paulo Excellence Chairs program (SPEC).

“FAPESP has worked hard to expand international collaboration. We have agreements with funding agencies, universities, research institutes and corporations. In the United States, we have agreements with the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Energy,” he noted.

Brito Cruz also emphasized the various agreements with U.S. universities such as North Carolina State University. “The number of articles published by researchers from the state of São Paulo and North Carolina as co-authors has increased significantly since 2000, with most in the area of health, followed by the natural sciences, biology, agronomy and veterinary science, engineering, and a few in the humanities and the social sciences. We’re trying to increase this number even more through the new agreements we have signed,” he said.

According to information provided by Brito Cruz, FAPESP has funded 303 joint research proposals involving researchers from Brazil and other countries between 2005 and 2010, 115 of these with U.S. institutions.

Brazilian Nature

Shortly after the opening ceremony, Mauro Galetti, a professor at the São Paulo State University (Unesp) in Rio Claro, made brief remarks about the art exhibit Brazilian Nature – Mystery and Destiny slated to officially open to the public in Charlotte November 13, 2013.

Galetti pointed out that the exhibit depicts work that began nearly 200 years ago, with the expedition by German naturalist Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius (1794-1868). “Between 1817 and 1821, he collected and described over 10,000 species of plants. It is the largest collection ever made for a single country and the work is still underway with the Flora Brasiliensis,” he said.

The first volume of the Flora Brasiliensis was published 171 years ago. In 2006, the project Flora Brasiliensis On-line ad Revised began, and it includes updates to the nomenclature used in the original and species discovered after its publication, along with new information and recent illustrations.

The 37 panels of Brazilian Nature – Mystery and Destiny contain information and illustrations about Flora Brasiliensis On-line and Revised and allow a comparison between images produced in the 19th century and current photographs of plants and biomes. They also describe some of the findings from studies conducted under the scope of the project Phanerogamic Flora of the State of São Paulo and the Research Program on the Characterization, Conservation, Recovery and Use of Biodiversity in the state of São Paulo (BIOTA-FAPESP).

The exhibit is the result of a partnership between FAPESP and the Berlin Botanical Museum. The digitized panels of the exhibit may be viewed with captions in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Japanese and German at: www.fapesp.br/publicacoes/braziliannature.

The exhibit has already visited several German cities such as Berlin, Bremen, Leipzig, Heidelberg, Erlangen and Eichstätt, and has been displayed in Toronto (Canada), Washington, DC, Boston and Morgantown (United States), Salamanca and Madrid (Spain) and Tokyo (Japan).

The activities surrounding FAPESP Week North Carolina in Charlotte ended after several discussion sessions, which brought together researchers from various areas with common interests related to the topics of health, the social sciences, biodiversity, energy and environmental sciences, physics and education.

Scheduled activities will continue Tuesday (11/12) on the campus of North Carolina State University, in Raleigh. The results of the joint call for proposals between FAPESP and NC State University will also be announced.