Maíra Menezes (IOC/Fiocruz)
Representatives of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute (IOC/Fiocruz) and Columbia University, in the United States, met to initiate a dialogue aimed at cooperation in the research on climate change. The delegation from the American institution was received at the Mourisco Castle, in Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro. The meeting included presentations by the Deputy Director of Reference Laboratories, Outpatient Clinics and Biological Collections, Elizabeth Rangel; the Coordinator of the Technical Chamber of Health and Environment, Tereza Favre; and IOC researchers Martha Barata, Marco Horta, and Clelia Christina Mello Silva Almeida da Costa. For Columbia, the university's Executive Vice President, Wafaa El-Sadr; members of the Columbia Global Center in Rio de Janeiro, Teresa Borges and Camila Pontual; Columbia Global Special Initiatives Coordinator Christine Hunt; and the Director of the Columbia Global Center in Nairobi, Kenya, Murugi Ndirangu.
El-Sadr highlighted the interest in establishing partnerships through Climate Hub Rio, an initiative launched by the university in partnership with the City Hall of Rio de Janeiro on March 14th. “We want to identify potential areas of synergy. We are very excited to establish a Climate Hub in Rio. We hope this will catalyze the cooperation between Columbia and Rio de Janeiro educators, researchers, professionals, and innovators”, he stated.
As topics for future partnerships, the Columbia VP highlighted the research in the intersection between climate and health and the field of training and education. “We believe that climate change is a major issue, which will not be solved by a discipline or a science. It will be necessary for people to work in a transdisciplinary and collaborative way to find solutions”, he added.
The Deputy Director of Reference Laboratories, Outpatient Clinics and Biological Collections at the IOC also emphasized the importance of cooperation on the topic, highlighting issues that are already target of research at the Institute, such as the risk of increased vector diseases and natural disasters. “Cooperation is very important for us to face the impact of climate change, which involves environmental and social issues. These two dimensions need to be considered together”, emphasized Elizabeth, who is the Coordinator of the health component at the National Institute of Science and Technology for Climate Change (INCT-MC).
The report produced by the Technical Chamber of Health and Environment on IOC's competencies in the area was shared with the delegation from Columbia University. The Chamber's coordinator pointed out that at least 25 of the Institute's laboratories conduct research with an environmental component. “Most groups work with diseases associated with and perpetuated by poverty, which are aggravated by anthropic environmental modifications”, Tereza pointed out.
The performance of IOC graduate programs in the area was also mentioned by Clélia, Coordinator of the Education Program in Biosciences and Health, and Marco, Assistant Coordinator of the Program in Tropical Medicine. The potential for cooperation between IOC and Columbia was also highlighted by Martha, citing the example of the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN). With the participation of more than 1,200 researchers, the network has global headquarters at Columbia University and Latin American headquarters at IOC and Coppe/UFRJ. “We have a great synergy and new collaborations can engage more researchers and students”, stated the researcher, who is one of the UCCRN coordinators in Latin America.