During a week of high-level academic debates launched by Brazil’s former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Brazilian scientists are sharing their expertise and discoveries with Spanish counterparts in the fields of medical science, materials science, and social sciences.
The “Fronteras de la Ciencia” Conferences take place during the week of 10-14 December 2012. Visiting scientists sponsored by Brazil’s leading regional research funding body, São Paulo Research Institute (FAPESP), are speaking at Salamanca University (USAL) and then at the Casa do Brasil in the Spanish capital, at a linked event hosted by the Brazilian embassy.
In each case the objective is to strengthen academic and research links between the two countries. Already FAPESP, which uses its annual research budget of US$554 million to sponsor research at universities in Brazil’s most technologically-developed region, has a funding pact with USAL.
This week, FAPESP is issuing a joint call for proposals from Spanish scientists keen to carry out their research in Brazil. The topics include physics, mathematics, chemical engineering, life sciences, agriculture, pharmacology, law, history, and education. Spanish scientists and their Brazilian counterparts must present their joint proposals by March 2013 and will receive news of the two-year awards by June 2013.
Details of the call for proposals, including the financial commitments of FAPESP and the University of Salamanca, will be announced on this site as soon as the document is launched on 10/12/2012.
According to FAPESP President Celso Lafer: “São Paulo state is an important partner for Spain when it comes to widening knowledge. In fact, São Paulo is responsible for half the output of all the science generated within Brazil.”
Lafer, who is a former foreign minister of Brazil and an eminent jurist and academic, also said he believes that in diplomatic terms it is important to strengthen ties with Spanish institutions and create a permanent dialogue between Iberian and Latin American nations, using science as the channel or common bond.
The FAPESP initiative in Spain is part of a wider pattern that has resulted in the Brazilian federal government making waves in the international higher education market, by drastically ramping up the country’s spending to capture the scientific knowhow needed for the country’s economic and social development. Although Brazil’s spending on education roughly matches that of developed countries, it is now seeking to improve results.
In 2012, the federal government begun sending up to 100,000 undergraduates abroad to study science, at a cost of over US$1.6 billion. At the same time it has begun launching programs to attract foreign research scientists, and to lure back home senior Brazilian academics working at international universities.
At regional level, FAPESP has financed over 100,000 research projects in its 50 years. It is one of the world’s top 70 funding institutes with extensive international partnerships and is a member of the elite Belmont Forum of leading national agencies financing global environmental change research.
FAPESP’s scientific director Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, also in Spain for the conferences, underlined the message that Brazil is ready to welcome Spanish scientists to increase cooperation. “FAPESP’s objective is to make more visible the good science that we are doing in Brazil, and to increase the opportunities for sharing. Just as we have in São Paulo state, Spain has a strong scientific base, with gifted researchers and world-quality research institutions.
By focusing on the three themes of social sciences, medical sciences and materials sciences including nanotechnology, the conference seeks to build on existing links.
Social science is a strong discipline in Brazil not least because, before he entered politics, former President Cardoso lectured in this field and held a chair in sociology at the Sorbonne. Other social science topics at the conference will include 25 years of Brazil’s transition from authoritarian rile to democracy; the politics of writer Jorge Amado, and political elites in both countries.
In the field of medical research, the focus will be on cancer, especially genetic studies, which is one of the strong points of Salamanca University’s medical school.
In the field of physics and material sciences, the topics covered include nanocarbon, nanoelectronics, and photonics including lasers and a discussion of the Brazilian synchrotron.
FAPESP is financed by tax revenues from Brazil’s wealthiest and most industrially-developed region. When measured on a per capita spend basis, the science research budget of São Paulo state is already higher than that of India, Russia, China, Spain or Ireland.