FAPESP Week brings together researchers from São Paulo and Catalonia

Results of research in nanotechnology, photonics, genomics and health will be presented in Barcelona

The similarities between São Paulo State and Catalonia, which is Spain’s most developed region and accounts for about 25% of its scientific output, will be among the highlights of FAPESP Week Barcelona. The event takes place on May 28-29, 2015, at the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site.

Hosted by FAPESP in partnership with the Research Centres of Catalonia (CERCA), FAPESP Week Barcelona aims to strengthen the ties between scientists in São Paulo and the autonomous community of Catalonia by promoting new collaborative research in nanotechnology, photonics, genomics and health, among other areas. A debate on the social impact of research will also be part of the program.

On the first day, May 28, the researchers will discuss among themselves. The second day, May 29, will be open to the public and will begin with a presentation by Antonio Castro Neto from the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Advanced 2D Materials and Graphene Research Centre.

The Brazilian researcher, who also heads Mackenzie Presbyterian University’s Centre for Advanced Research in Graphene, Nanomaterials & Nanotechnology (MackGrafe), supported by FAPESP through the São Paulo Excellence Chair Program (SPEC), will speak about the research projects he runs and the advances achieved in recent years in two-dimensional materials, especially graphene and phosphorene.

Work on nanotechnology and photonics will be presented and discussed next. Niek Hulst from the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) will speak about the benefits to society of photonics research; Pablo Ordejón, who heads the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience & Nanotechnology (ICN2), will discuss the ways in which nanodevices can address social challenges; Carlos Frederico de Oliveira Graeff from São Paulo State University (UNESP), Bauru, will focus on new tools for characterization of organic semiconductors; and Hugo Luis Fragnito from the Gleb Wataghin Physics Institute at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) will speak about optical communications and integrated photonics.

The morning session will be moderated by Laura Lechuga from ICN2 and Hugo Figueroa from UNICAMP’s School of Electrical & Computer Engineering.

The afternoon begins with a session on genomics and human health, with Luis Serrano from Barcelona’s Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Joan Guinovart from the Barcelona Biomedical Research Institute (IRB), Anamaria Aranha Camargo from the Molecular Oncology Centre at São Paulo’s Syrian-Lebanese Hospital, and Maria José Soares Mendes Giannini from UNESP, Araraquara.

The topics addressed will range from chemistry, biology and structures, to cancer genomics and personalized medicine, and new molecules as antifungal agents to combat biofilm. The moderator will be Anna Bigas from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM).

The second afternoon session will focus on the social impact of research, with Marta Solé Gallart from the University of Barcelona; Albert Esteve, who heads Barcelona’s Demographic Research Centre; Manel Esteller, Cancer Epigenetics & Biology Program Director at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL); and Leandro Medrano from the University of São Paulo (USP). The moderator will be Ada Ferrer, Deputy Director for Academic Programs at Barcelona GSE.

The program will end with a presentation by Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, FAPESP’s Scientific Director, on the science and technology produced in São Paulo State, and the agency’s programs for the support of research and international collaboration.

Collaboration with Spain

This is the second time a FAPESP Week has been held in Spain. The first was Frontiers of Science – Brazil and Spain, held in Salamanca and Madrid to commemorate FAPESP’s 50th anniversary in 2012.

Since then the amount of science undertaken collaboratively by universities in São Paulo and Spain has increased. This collaboration is the subject of ongoing discussions on the complementary characteristics of the science produced and the prospects of further advances through joint research.

FAPESP has maintained cooperation agreements with Spanish higher education and research institutions since 2011 to support collaborative research projects undertaken by researchers in Spain and São Paulo State in all knowledge areas, as well as exchanges of teachers and students.

FAPESP’s collaborations with Spain have grown at an accelerating pace and currently involve cooperation agreements with the University of Girona (UdG), the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Salamanca.

In 2014 FAPESP and Spain’s National Scientific Research Council (CSIC) signed a memorandum of understanding to support joint calls for proposals, exchanges of researchers and students, and public sharing of technical information and research results.

Three joint calls for research proposals have been held so far, with 23 projects approved and ongoing. This event is expected to lead to cooperation specifically with Catalonia, which has 12 universities, nine public and three private. The autonomous region also has 36 university research institutes, 47 research centres linked to the Catalan government through CERCA, and 21 linked to CSIC.

For Celso Lafer, President of FAPESP, the presence of Catalonia among the agency’s agreements with Spanish institutions is essential, given its importance in the international research context.

“Brazil is an important partner of Spain in the scientific field, and the similarities between São Paulo and Catalonia in economic terms and in terms of scientific production make collaboration natural between their institutions and researchers,” Lafer said. “New cooperation agreements may arise out of FAPESP Week Barcelona. The results of future joint research projects will be shared not only by Brazil and Spain but internationally in all knowledge areas.”

Brito Cruz also sees the event to be held in Barcelona as an important step to strengthen the ties between researchers in São Paulo and Catalonia.

“FAPESP Week Barcelona will increase the visibility of São Paulo’s scientific production and create opportunities for collaborative undertakings with Catalan researchers. Both regions are among the top knowledge producers in all of Ibero-America, and thanks to this similarity their collaborations will undoubtedly produce high-impact research,” Brito Cruz said.

According to Lluís Rovira, who heads CERCA, FAPESP Week Barcelona is an opportunity to join forces in pursuit of benefits to be shared by institutions on both sides of the Atlantic.

“We aim to increase scientific collaboration between researchers in Catalonia and São Paulo in a wide range of knowledge areas including genomics, renewable energy, nanoscience, new materials, laser applications, environmental management and biomedicine,” Rovira said. “We’re keen to engage in joint learning in many areas, from the construction and management of synchrotron equipment to the use of different sources of research funding, by exchanging knowledge of best practices in research management and assessment, including challenges for new collaborative research projects.”