Opportunities to learn about cutting edge research in Brazil and conduct partnerships with scientists in the country were highlighted by participants in the Washington symposium (photo: JVInfante Photography/Wilson Center)

U.S. scientists evaluate FAPESP Week

November 16, 2011

“FAPESP week was an exciting experience as an academic, with diverse intellectual interests and traditions brought together with a shared interest in research in Brazil,” said Scott Desposato, professor of the Department of Political Science at the University of California at San Diego.

Desposato was one of the speakers from the United States that met with Brazilian researchers at the international FAPESP Week symposium held from October 24-26 at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

The event was part of commemorations for FAPESP’s 50th Anniversary. For scientists at U.S. institutions, the symposium was successful at reviewing Brazil’s recent scientific production in 11 fields of knowledge and the challenges for the coming years, in addition highlighting the parallels between Brazilian and U.S. production in these areas.

“FAPESP week made a major impression in Washington. Prior to that point, in a sense, it was a well-kept secret. The breadth and depth of the science scholarship and the profound vision impressed everyone,” commented Thomas Lovejoy, of the George Mason University and Heinz Center, in an interview with Agência FAPESP.

"I thought it was a great conference that was very well organized," said Erich Grotewold, professor at Ohio State University. “I have participated in hundreds of gatherings and FAPESP Week was certainly one of the best. Being able to be part of discussions on other areas besides our area of specialization was marvelous. I learned a lot about important topics that I knew nothing about before,” commented Don Francis, executive director of Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases.

“It is not easy to get people representing so many diverse disciplines in the same room, but if you choose people that are good speakers the event is informative and entertaining. I think the event was excellent and everyone had a very interesting and exciting time.  You could see it on peoples’ faces. I look forward to expanding my collaborations in Brazil, to fostering the success of Brazilian scientists in the USA and the Science without Borders program,” affirmed Daniel Janies, professor at Biomedical Informatics at the University of Ohio State Medical School.

Elizabeth Stein, professor of Political Science at the University of New Orleans, also praised the multidisciplinary character of the symposium, despite having had difficulty following some of the presentations. 

“I enjoyed meeting so many other scholars that worked on Brazil. The evening social events were nice as well. The only drawback was that the diversity of fields that were included--while very impressive—meant that it was difficult to understand some of the presentations because I didn't have sufficient background knowledge. Overall, however, I thought it was a success.” 

“I found the technical sessions intriguing. They were a testimony to the impact that FAPESP has made in the state of São Paulo and on the advancement of science and technology. I was enlightened about how researchers funded by FAPESP in the fields of biology and medicine have advanced our scientific understanding,” said Harold Javid, Microsoft Research Connections director of Americas/ANZ Regional Programs.

Valder Arruda, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, valued the opportunity to share new approaches for development of science. “I was pleased with the opportunity to discuss with colleagues the potential on the development of a gene-based approach for the treatment of genetic diseases that affect U.S. and Brazilian patients to which no cure is yet available.”

“During the meeting, the main limitations that need to be overcome in order to optimize interaction between investigators from both countries became clear, as well as the need for a modern approach from the Brazilian regulatory agencies to facilitate exchanges in knowledge and to support in its application for the good of society,” he affirmed.

Nikos Vasilakis, professor of Pathology at University of Texas, Austin, also underscored the “important opportunity” to meet and swap information with Brazilian scientists.

“Overall the experience was transformative as I became aware of the vastness of opportunities available for collaboration, which can be beneficial for young investigators,” he said.

The presentations made by U.S. and Brazilian researchers at FAPESP Week, in addition to news and more information about the event are available at: www.fapesp.br/week