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Solid research collaboration

The importance of international scientific cooperation among researchers in building knowledge is highlighted at FAPESP Week Michigan-Ohio

“This gathering represents an important opportunity to form new collaborations and develop research opportunities,” said James Holloway, Vice Provost at the University of Michigan (UM), with regard to FAPESP Week Michigan-Ohio, which began this Monday (3/28) in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“First and foremost, it is a gathering to present the findings of research studies, but it is also about our own joint work and the impact this work is having. It is an opportunity that can explore options for the intellectual engagement of our researchers and students in solid international collaborations,” Holloway said.

“We are very excited about the partnership we have had with FAPESP since 2012, when we signed an agreement to begin funding collaborative research projects between scientists from São Paulo State and the University of Michigan,” Holloway said.

FAPESP and UM jointly launched two requests for proposals, which resulted in the selection of nine research projects. In 2015, UM took part in a request for proposal under the FAPESP São Paulo Researchers in International Collaboration (SPRINT) program, the results of which will be announced shortly.

Alexandra Minna Stern, director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at UM, pointed out that the diversity of topics included in the symposium agenda demonstrates the scope of the agreement between FAPESP and UM.

“The projects we select and fund come from various fields of knowledge and are carried out by researchers from a broad range of disciplines. It is exciting to see the results of the joint work by scientists from the University of Michigan and São Paulo and empower the building of research collaboration networks,” she said.

Joseph Kolars, director of Global REACH, a program at the University of Michigan Medical School created to promote international initiatives in health research and education, pointed out the impact the partnerships are having in the fields of health and medicine.

“Strategic collaboration with the state of São Paulo, through FAPESP, is one of our school’s most important partnerships and it has helped us to address complex problems together,” he said.

“An example is in the prevalence of adrenal cancer in Brazil, which has one of the largest concentrations in the world, while in the United States the disease is rare. However, the University of Michigan Medical School has experience in the topic, driven by the patients who seek us out, and collaboration with Brazilian researchers has allowed us to move forward in understanding and treating this problem,” he said.

Founded in 1817, the University of Michigan is one of the foremost research universities in the United States. It is a public institution with more than 51,000 students from over 100 countries, on three campuses, which house one of the largest health complexes and the premier university library system in the U.S. Its 17 schools and colleges offer more than 5,500 undergraduate courses.

FAPESP Week Michigan is supported by the Brazil Initiative in the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Center and the Brazil Platform in the Global Reach program, both of which are centers at the University of Michigan.

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The opening speech of FAPESP Week was made Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, FAPESP scientific director, before an audience at the Michigan Union who were given an overview of the science and technology research conducted in the state of São Paulo and funded by FAPESP.

“Researchers from the state of São Paulo account for nearly 45% of the science produced in Brazil. São Paulo publishes more scientific articles than any Latin American country. And a significant part of research funding in the state comes from FAPESP, a public foundation whose mission is to support research in all fields of knowledge,” he said.

Scientific production by the state of São Paulo is also exhibited in the quantity and quality of research proposals FAPESP receives. “In 2015, we received nearly 25,000 proposals, of which 40% were accepted, which globally, is a high rate,” said Brito Cruz, emphasizing that the proposals were processed within an average of 64 days, which demonstrates the speed of the application process.

The scientific director mentioned some of FAPESP’s strategic areas of activity, such as its scholarship program that has helped created a “new generation of scientists for Brazil.”

Another important direction for FAPESP lies in the research studies initiated by scientists themselves. “One example is in the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (RIDC) that receive funding for 11 years to develop basic and applied science focused on specific topics for the purpose of transferring technology to industry or society and communicating science to the general public. We now have 17 RIDCs,” he said.

Brito Cruz also talked about FAPESP’s growing program to support joint research between universities and industries that includes universities from the state of São Paulo and partners like Microsoft, Agilent, Braskem, Oxiteno, Sabesp, Vale, Intel, Boeing and dozens of others.

Other initiatives mentioned were the FAPESP Innovative Research in Small Businesses Program (PIPE) and the Engineering Research Centers that FAPESP has established with groups like Peugeot Citröen, GSK, Natura and British Gas.

The scientific director also talked about the FAPESP funding mechanism that enables scientists from other countries to conduct research in Brazil.  Among the examples he mentioned are Post-doctoral Fellowships,  Young Investigators in Emerging Institutes Grants, the Visiting Researcher Program,  the São Paulo School of Advanced Science (SPSAS) and the São Paulo Excellence Chair (SPEC).

Heitor Shimizu, in Michigan | Agência FAPESP