Director of the Institute of Tropical Medicine of Antwerp (ITM), in Belgium, Marc-Alain Widdowson visited Fiocruz (8/8) to talk about the possibility of international cooperation between the institutions. After visiting the architectural monuments of the Foundation, Marc-Alain met with the vice-president of Education, Information and Communication (Vpeic/Fiocruz), Cristiani Machado, and with the vice-president of Research and Biological Collections (VPPCB/Fiocruz), Rodrigo Correa, to understand which topics would be of interest to the possible partnerships.
Institutions met to discuss partnership in the areas of research and education (photo: Fiocruz)
Bacteria and viruses: study topics
At the meeting, Marc-Alain introduced the institute he represents and spoke about the interest the ITM has in working with Fiocruz in research and education areas related to microbacteria (such as tuberculosis and leprosy), Chagas disease, virus diseases, and health systems.
Correa explained that the Foundation has important researches for the international cooperation. An example he gave was the study group in leprosy of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute (IOC/Fiocruz), led by Euzenir Sarno and Milton Moraes.
He also mentioned the Fiocruz Genomic Network, which started with surveillance of the Sars-CoV-2. “The idea is that we may increase this activity of the Genomic Network. In Rio de Janeiro, we have a very strong laboratory on respiratory diseases and we are starting to use the network to map monkeypox. We have also been monitoring dengue and chikungunya”, the researcher clarified. He informed that the Foundation has works related to bacterial diseases, including those linked to tuberculosis.
International cooperation agreement
To the ITM director, an initial possibility of partnership is the creation of a project in which both sides enter with a 50% investment and develop a project pilot. “There is an instrument for cooperation that is called Pump Priming Project”. Correa explained that this is a very useful partnership model that already exists in Fiocruz, called a bipartite cooperation agreement.
Other topics discussed during the meeting concerned climate control projects, public health studies, and topics connected to data science. Machado spoke about Fiocruz participation in an epidemiologic intelligence hub in Berlin by the World Health Organization (WHO). “The WHO is organizing it and also wants to have a hub in Latin America. It is being discussed how Fiocruz will cooperate with this project”, the vice-president complemented.
Templates of invitations and possibilities in education
Machado suggested to Marc-Alain that the institutions could enter into what Fiocruz calls a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). “The MOU should be made between the parties supported by the teams of our Center for International Relations in Health (Cris/Fiocruz) and the ITM team, with the possible lines of cooperation in Education and Research”, she said.
In this sense, some examples were the mobility of students and teachers between the institutions, by means of sandwich PhD or internships of visiting researchers. The mutual use of credits for courses taken at the institutions was also pointed out. Another aspect mentioned was the holding of academic webinars and seminars, besides the possibility of offering courses or programs carried out in partnership, such as international winter/summer programs.
To understand the education panorama within Fiocruz, the vice president explained Fiocruz's presence in the country (photo: Fiocruz)
The director of ITM raised another possibility. “Another possibility is to bring people to develop a project here, with a well-defined purpose, of course”, the director completed.
Meeting with other national researchers
After the meeting, the vice-president of Fiocruz and the director of the Antwerp Institute met the coordinators of the Institutional Internationalization Program (PrInt/Capes), of which the Foundation participates. Marc-Alain did a presentation about the ITM-Antwerp and the coordinators identified mutual interests (as well as possibilities for cooperation between the institutions) and proposed the future preparation of a joint seminar.