FAPESP and Glaxo SmithKline Brasil signed a letter of intent for joint investment to support research on tropical diseases in São Paulo State (photo:Eduardo Cesar)

FAPESP and GSK in partnership against tropical diseases

November 16, 2011

By Fábio de Castro

Agência FAPESP
– On October 21, FAPESP and pharmaceutical laboratory Glaxo SmithKline Brasil (GSK) signed a letter of intent for joint investment to support research on tropical diseases in São Paulo State.
FAPESP President, Celso Lafer, and GSK Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Rogério Rocha Ribeiro, signed the agreement in São Paulo. Also attending the ceremony were the United Kingdom’s Health Minister, Simon Burns, FAPESP’s Executive Director, Ricardo Renzo Brentani, and the Consulate General of Great Britain, John Dodrell. 

The new partnership between FAPESP and GSK Brasil was established under the auspices of the Trust in Science Project, an international initiative undertaken by the laboratory, which also involves the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).

The research will be developed with FAPESP funding under the Research Partnership Program for Technological Innovation (PITE), in cooperation involving researchers from higher education and research institutions in São Paulo State and the laboratory.

“FAPESP has been striving for greater internationalization for several years by increasing cooperation with the private sector or through mutually beneficial agreements with other nations. This document is part of these efforts and envisages the establishment of support mechanism for projects of mutual interest for advancement of knowledge on relevant tropical diseases for public health in Brazil and around the globe,” affirms Lafer.

Lafer underscored that the agreement could generate benefits for Brazil and the world. “The state of São Paulo has a significant scientific base which could make an important contributions to global knowledge. In the global context, research is an essentially international task,” he declared.

Burns affirmed that the British government has mandated broader international collaboration in research linked to health. “We are focused on stimulating companies to face the challenges of developing the next generation of medicines. International cooperation is absolutely fundamental for these objectives to be reached,” he said.

According to Ribeiro, the agreement is open and flexible to allow for the optimization of an exchange of experiences between GSK and FAPESP. “The idea is to identify projects of these institutions’ mutual interest and through them, leverage transferal of knowledge. We are working with the possibility of taking Brazilian scientists to work in GSK’s global research centers and vice versa,” Ribeiro said in an interview with Agência FAPESP.

Ribeiro affirmed that GSK identified some therapeutic areas of interest that could be considered in future calls for proposal. “GSK’s main areas of interest are neglected diseases, chronic diseases, metabolic diseases, diabetes and respiratory diseases. The idea is to further broaden this array,” he said.

According to him, the objective is support academic research in applied science projects that will eventually lead to development of medicine, vaccines and products that can have a major impact on public health.
“Our dream is that this cooperation take us, for example, to a new molecule that has an impact, not only in Brazil and Latin America, but worldwide, so that the research can benefit the whole planet,” he ponders.

Signature of the letter of intent, according to Ribeiro, is also recognition of São Paulo’s research capacity. According to him, it would not be feasible to consider a similar partnership if there wasn’t the infrastructure, scientific bases and willingness to work in an open manner.

“The conditions were propitious. São Paulo is at the vanguard of science in Brazil with many partnerships with diverse institutions and innumerous areas, which creates ideal conditions to find work partnerships. Without a doubt FAPESP is a spectacular partner because it has the know-how and the infrastructure in place to leverage this experience with GSK,” he affirms.

Under the document, GSK will be responsible for providing funding, specifying the thematic areas of interest for the company and will cooperate with FAPESP in publication of calls for proposals. The laboratory will also offer a technical contribution to the work and is willing to participate in efforts to build good long-term relationships with the São Paulo research community.

FAPESP will be responsible for providing matching financial support and cooperating with the laboratory in the selection of research proposals in regulation of rights to intellectual property. The Foundation will also organize the process of calls for proposals and manage financing for principal investigators on approved projects, in addition to accompanying the reports of the results thereof.