By André Julião | Agência FAPESP – Supporting problem-oriented research with social or economic impacts is the mission of the 15 Science for Development Centers (CCDs) announced during the ceremony held on May 25 to commemorate FAPESP’s 60th anniversary. Altogether, BRL 89.5 million will be invested in the new centers in the years ahead.
CCDs focus on specific challenges of interest to public bodies and relevant to the development of the state of São Paulo. The expected results should advance knowledge and help improve public policies.
According to FAPESP’s CEO, Carlos Américo Pacheco, the aim is to arrive at novel applications of the research while disseminating and transferring technology, creating new companies, and having other kinds of social or economic impact.
“This is our version of what we call mission-oriented research,” he said during the ceremony. “Several departments of the state government face huge problems, which the CCDs will address. We are listening to the concerns of public administrators and aligning research topics. All 15 centers will issue calls for proposals to develop solutions to problems in the implementation of public policy. An impressive number of leading institutions are taking part.”
The new CCDs will focus on the development of biopharmaceuticals, innovation in urban public policy, technological innovation for health emergencies, solutions for waste, water security, human and animal diseases, greenhouse gas emissions, and vaccine enhancement, among other topics.
For example, the Center for Viral Surveillance and Serological Assessment (CeVIVAS), to be hosted by Butantan Institute, will research continuous vaccine enhancement, as well as carry out genomic surveillance of influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and dengue. The principal investigator (PI) is Sandra Coccuzzo Sampaio Vessoni.
“Butantan Institute has many projects supported by FAPESP in several fields, most recently pandemic prevention. Genomic surveillance, the remit of one of these new centers, is highly relevant to such prevention. FAPESP has unquestionably played a key role in the response to this latest pandemic and is still involved in pandemic-related projects as well as new research requirements and public policy-related projects. It has now produced a new vision for the next 60 years into the bargain,” Dimas Tadeu Covas, Director of Butantan Institute, told Agência FAPESP.
Covas, who attended the ceremony, also leads one of the centers approved in FAPESP’s first Science for Development call: the Nucleus for Cellular Therapy (NuTeC), hosted at the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão Preto Medical School (FMRP-USP).
The newly established Xenotransplantation Science for Development Center will breed genetically modified pigs to supply organs for transplantation in humans without leading to rejection (more at: agencia.fapesp.br/29761/).
The PI is Silvano Raia, a professor at the University of São Paulo’s Medical School (FM-USP). Its researchers will include Mayana Zatz, a professor at the Institute of Biosciences (IB-USP) and PI for the Human Genome and Stem Cell Research Center (HUG-CELL), also supported by FAPESP.
“This support is crucial, and not only from the financial standpoint. It opens up prospects for new investment by private enterprise, and FAPESP’s support also gives any project a very important scientific grounding,” Zatz told Agência FAPESP after the ceremony.
The group has produced its first genetically modified pig embryos, in which the genes that cause acute rejection in humans are inactivated with gene editing techniques, she added. The next step will consist of inserting the embryos into female pigs that will serve as surrogate mothers, soon giving birth to piglets with organs that in theory should not cause rejection.
The plan is to begin by producing kidneys for transplantation to humans, and in future the scientists expect the animals to supply corneas, skin, and even hearts.
“For heart xenotransplantation, we’re partnering with a group in New Zealand that produces smaller genetically modified animals weighing 120 kg or 130 kg, compared with up to 400 kg for conventional animals. In the case of kidneys and corneas, the size of the organ to be transplanted makes no difference, but hearts have to be smaller in order to fit in the human thoracic cavity and pump blood proportionally,” Zatz explained.
According to Jean Paul Metzger, also a professor at IB-USP and principal investigator for BIOTA Synthesis, selected for funding by FAPESP in the previous CCD call, this funding line enhances the consistency of partnerships that already existed but were not necessarily institutionalized ( more at: agencia.fapesp.br/38760).
“Having a consolidated project that’s supported by FAPESP and to which all actors are committed enables us to institutionalize these partnerships,” he said. “We’re no longer researchers with individual projects, but a group with different knowledge sets who will work with the government and other actors in a dynamic framework agreed by all. We have a work horizon, a commitment, funding, and enthusiasm fueled by approval of the project.”
The CCDs announced at the ceremony held to commemorate FAPESP’s 60th anniversary are listed below.
Center for Translational Science and Development of Biopharmaceuticals
Host institution: Center for Research on Venom and Venomous Animals, São Paulo State University (CEVAP-UNESP)
Participating institutions: Ribeirão Preto School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of São Paulo (FCFRP-USP); Adolfo Lutz Institute (IAL), São Paulo State Department of Health (SSSP); Biological Institute, São Paulo State Department of Agriculture and Supply (IB-SAASP); Emílio Ribas Institute of Infectious Diseases (IIER-SSSP)
Center for Innovation in Urban Public Policies
Host institution: São Paulo Business School (EAESP), Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV)
Participating institutions: FGV; INSPER Institute of Education and Research
Technological Innovation Platform for Health Emergencies
Host institution: Butantan Institute/SSSP
Participating institutions: Butantan Institute; Butantan Foundation
Science for Development Center in Post-Consumption Waste: packaging and products
Host institution: Institute of Food Technology (ITAL-SAASP)
Participating institutions: ITAL; SAASP; Institute of Technological Research (IPT), São Paulo State Department of Economic Development (SDE)
Science, Technology and Development Center for Innovation in Medicine and Health
Host institution: Medical School, University of São Paulo (FM-USP)
Participating institutions: USP; Engineering School (POLI-USP); Siemens Ltda.
Center for Water and Food Security in Critical Zones
Host institution: Institute of Agronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences (IAG-USP)
Partner institutions: The Nature Conservancy Brazil; Office of Sustainable Rural Development, SAASP; POLI-USP, School of Architecture and Urbanism (FAU-USP); National Space Research Institute (INPE)
Center for Research on Thromboembolic Diseases
Host institution: Hematology and Hemotherapy Center, University of Campinas (UNICAMP)
Partner institutions: Women’s Wellness Center, UNICAMP; Boldrini Children’s Center; School of Chemical Engineering (FEQ-UNICAMP); São José do Rio Preto Medical School (FAMERP); Hospital das Clínicas, UNICAMP; Hospital das Clínicas, UNESP Botucatu; Barretos Cancer Hospital; City of Campinas Department of Health; Pontifical Catholic University (PUC) of Campinas; Moysés Deutsch Hospital; Queen’s University Belfast (UK); Bayer Brazil; In Situ Terapia Celular Ltda.
Center and Technological Platform for Animal Health
Host institution: Biological Institute/SAASP
Participating institutions: Pan American Center for Foot-and-Mouth Disease; Office of Agricultural Defense/SAASP; EMBRAPA Livestock Southeast; School of Agricultural Sciences (FCA), UNESP Jaboticabal; School of Pharmaceutical Sciences (FCF), UNESP Araraquara; School of Animal Science and Food Engineering (FZEA-USP); Institute of Biology, UNICAMP; Federal Agricultural Defense Laboratory in São Paulo, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA); Biobreyer; Merck; Stabivet Diagnósticos
São Paulo Center for Research on the Energy Transition
Host institution: School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (FEEC), UNICAMP
Participating institutions: São Paulo State Department of Infrastructure and Environment (SIMASP); Federal Technological University of Paraná (UTFPR); UNESP; PUC Minas in Poços de Caldas; Renato Archer Center for Information Technology (CTI); Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI); School of Agricultural Sciences (FCA), UNESP Botucatu; Universidade Nove de Julho (UNINOVE); Law School, University of São Paulo (USP); Law School, Mackenzie Presbyterian University (UPM); Institute of Science and Technology, UNESP Sorocaba; Lappeenranta-Lahti University (Finland); Delft University of Technology (Netherlands); Eletrobras; CPFL; Radaz
Center for Research on Urbanization for Knowledge and Innovation
Host institution: School of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Urbanism, UNICAMP
Partner institutions: Inova, UNICAMP; Instituto 17, City of Campinas; SDE; School of Applied Sciences, UNICAMP; School of Technology, UNICAMP; Ecclo; Flock; Suzano
Solutions for Combating Emerging Diseases in Fish Farming
Host institution: Fisheries Institute/SAASP
Participating institutions: SAASP; Aquaculture Center, UNESP Jaboticabal; School of Animal Science and Food Engineering, USP; ITAL; MCCF
Science for Development Center in Beef Cattle Climate Neutrality
Host institution: Institute of Animal Science/SAASP
Participating institutions: SAASP; EMBRAPA Livestock Southeast; School of Agricultural Sciences (FCA), UNESP Jaboticabal; School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences, USP; Santa Catarina State University (UDESC); Federal University of Lavras; University of Florida, University of Georgia and University of Washington (USA); Alltech do Brasil; DSM, JBS; Silvateam
Center for Viral Surveillance and Serological Assessment
Host institution: Butantan Institute/SSSP
Participating institutions: Butantan Foundation; São Paulo Mendelics; Osang Healthcare (South Korea)
Science for Development Center in Xenotransplantation
Host institution: Medical School/USP
Participating institutions: Institute of Biosciences/USP; IPT/SDE; Xenobrasil
Cancer Control in São Paulo State
Host institution: São Paulo Cancer Center Foundation (FOSP)/SSSP
Participating institutions: SSSP; Medical School (FM-USP), Botucatu Medical School, UNESP; School of Public Health (FSP-USP); Cancer Institute/SSSP; Mauá Institute; Oncoguia Institute; International Agency for Research on Cancer (France)