‘Intense and Fruitful Collaboration’ Unites Scientists across Atlantic

Scientists from Spain and Brazil have been ‘walking the talk’ of creating a global knowledge-based society, by sharing their research findings across a range of disciplines during a symposium in the university city of Salamanca.

In the field of political science, academics are developing a theoretical model to measure the quality of democracy in Brazil and other nations, as defined by the level of political participation across different social sectors.

In the medical field, oncologists and plant biologists are examining how Brazil’s huge plant biodiversity could become a source of bio-molecules suitable for researching new generations of potential cancer drugs. The hunt includes micro-algae.

In the materials sciences, one physicist showed progress towards making 100% organic touch screens and solar cells made of a new carbon-based material called molecular graphene. Another demonstrated how superconductivity or zero electrical resistance, today only achieved at very low temperatures, will soon be possible at room temperature.

Summing up the outcomes of the three-day symposium entitled ‘Fronteras de la Ciencia’ sponsored by the University of Salamanca and São Paulo Research Institute (FAPESP), the latter’s scientific director Prof. Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz said there was “intense and fruitful collaboration with very relevant results.”

The symposium, which also saw the launch of a call for proposals from Spanish and Brazilian scientists across multiple disciples, was “very productive,” said Prof. Brito at a press conference together with materials science colleagues (see photo.)

Prof.Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz (3rd from left) and physicists colleagues assess achievements of ‘Fronteras de la Ciencia’

The event, which was kicked off by Brazil’s former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, comes at a time when Spanish universities are being hard hit by deep budget cuts. However FAPESP president Prof, Celso Lafer, himself a former foreign minister of Brazil, hit a more optimistic note by affirming the role of science in bringing people together by crossing frontiers. Certainly, FAPESP’s pledge of new money for shared research and opportunities to work in Brazil has enliven Spanish researchers.

In the field of nanotechnology, scientists from the University of Salamanca and their Brazilian counterparts from research institutes in the state of São Paulo, Brazil’s most developed region, displayed particular optimism about the development of potentially world-beating microchips.  In the field of “vertical transistors” or 3D chips, João Antonio Martino from the University of São Paulo’s Polytechnic school said researchers were fast closing in on some of Intel’s most precious industrial secrets by developing a working prototype. This new generation of low-energy, space-saving  chips will power new generations of  mobile devices.

Click here for article on 3D transistors

In the field of photonics and lasers, it was announced by Antonio Jose Roque da Silva from the University of São Paulo that Brazil is building a new third generation synchrotron or “Light Laboratory” to replace its 15 year-old model. This new device, financed by FAPESP, creates a high-energy light source for examining materials with multiple applications for molecular science, nanotechnology, medicine, and even paleontology and archaeology. Brazilian scientists are collaborating with their Spanish counterparts now operating a similar synchrotron at Alba near Barcelona.

Barcelona’s ALBA light laboratory

For political scientists, the 25 years of consolidation of Brazil’s democratic culture since the end of military rule in 1985, offer fertile ground for analysis.  Brazilian experts José Alvaro Moisés from the University of São Paulo and Marta Arretche from CEBRAP, assessed the shifting balance of influence between the elected legislature in Brasilia and its increasingly powerful executive branch.

Click here for article on democratic institutions.

Whilst collaboration may have no theoretical limits, all scientific progress, of course, is limited by the span of human life. And nowhere more than in the medical field of oncology.

Click here for article on new treatments for cancer.

It was left to Dr Luiz Paulo Kowalski, a specialist surgeon of head and neck cancers from the Hospital AC Camargo and Brazil’s National Institute of Oncogenomics, that however hard scientists work to develop medical breakthroughs, cancer will continue to exist while people persist with their dangerous lifestyle habits and diets.

But, Dr Kowalski said, the demands upon cancer surgeons were changing rapidly, as more and more successful early diagnoses left patients healthy and in full remission, but still in need of reconstructive or remedial surgery.

After completing a successful three days in Salamanca, ‘Fronteras de la Ciencia’ was  to continue for another two days in Madrid. The event was to be attended by Roman Arjona Gracia, the secretary-general of Science, Technology and Innovation at Spain’s Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

FAPESP president Celso Lafer announced the Brazilian-Spanish symposium would be repeated in São Paulo in 2014.


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