Agreement will permit installation of Pasteur Institute unit in the state of São Paulo
July 20, 2022
By André Julião | Agência FAPESP – On July 4, 2022, the São Paulo State Government, the University of São Paulo (USP), and France’s Pasteur Institute signed an agreement to set up a unit of the French research institution in Brazil. During the ceremony, which also celebrated FAPESP’s sixtieth anniversary, FAPESP renewed for another year its support for the Scientific Platform Pasteur-USP, a cluster of laboratories that will now include the Brazilian unit of the Pasteur Institute.
A bust of Louis Pasteur gifted by France to commemorate the two-hundredth anniversary of the scientist’s birth was unveiled during the event.
Established at USP three years ago, the Scientific Platform Pasteur-USP hosts research projects that focus on developing diagnostic methods, treatments and vaccines for emerging and neglected infectious diseases transmitted by pathogens that cause complex immune responses and can damage the central nervous system, such as zika virus and SARS-CoV-2.
“USP, FAPESP and Pasteur Institute are the sponsors of the initiative but, in addition to the support we already provide, we’re issuing an international call to attract young researchers from all over the world. We’re also celebrating the advent of a new sponsor in the shape of the São Paulo State Government,” said Marco Antonio Zago, President of FAPESP.
The G4 Program, as it is known, aims to attract young talents who have no formal ties to Brazilian or foreign institutions. Three call notices will be issued all told. Besides this year’s, there will be one in 2023 and a third in 2024.
At the end of the project’s four years, each principal investigator can compete for a vacancy offered by USP or Pasteur to work permanently on the Platform as a professor.
“Although the Platform is in its third year, our participation in the Pasteur network will be made complete by its conversion to a unit of Pasteur in Brazil, which will happen in the next six months to a year. This means we’ll be able to interact with the other 32 institutions in the worldwide network, promote research mobility from one side to the other on all five continents, and help make sure research projects are complementary,” Paola Minoprio, the Platform’s executive coordinator, told Agência FAPESP.
“We’re developing something that will continue for generations, and building stronger support for the health of Brazilians and the education of future students,” Luis Carlos de Souza Ferreira, coordinator of the Platform alongside Minoprio, said during the opening part of the ceremony.
In a video address, Pasteur Institute Director-General Stewart Cole said the Platform’s contribution to public health during the pandemic has assured its central role in São Paulo state’s science output. “This is a constant reminder of the importance of collaboration in an increasingly fragmented world,” he stressed. “Fragmentation weakens all of us, and we must maintain and develop strong bilateral and multilateral collaboration in the interest of global public health.”
Affonso Massot, São Paulo State’s Executive Secretary for International Relations, attended the ceremony. The agreement “demonstrates the political will to go beyond the Platform by creating a unit of the Pasteur Institute,” he said.
At the same event, Nísia Trindade de Lima, President of Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (an agency of the Brazilian Health Ministry), and François Romaneix, Senior Executive Vice President of Pasteur Institute, signed an agreement to create a joint scientific platform in Fortaleza, Ceará.
A recording of the first part of the event is at: youtu.be/cjzQmuf9NJE.
Research on COVID-19
During the second part of the event, researchers affiliated with the Platform delivered presentations on the work done during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as a study led by Minoprio showing that SARS-CoV-2 can remain in the organism for longer than the recommended quarantine period (more at: agencia.fapesp.br/37792/).
He also described research focusing on the response of neutralizing antibodies to the vaccines in use in Brazil and how the safety of convalescent blood plasma therapy was shown to be a safe alternative for treating COVID-19 patients (more at: agencia.fapesp.br/35153/).
Jean Pierre Peron reported the findings of research on the effects of COVID-19 on the brain, and more specifically the metabolic impact of the disease on the central nervous system. His group showed, for example, that SARS-CoV-2 increases energy expenditure by brain cells in order to replicate (more at: agencia.fapesp.br/37383/).
Patrícia Beltrão Braga, who is also affiliated with the Platform, spoke about research conducted at her laboratory using mini-brains to study neurodevelopmental disorders and their possible sharing of inflammatory pathways.
Finally, Ferreira described his team’s testing of different vaccine technologies (more at: agencia.fapesp.br/37620/).
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