André Costa (Agência Fiocruz de Notícias)
The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation signed on Monday (Feb 26) a Memorandum of Understanding with Shenzhen Third People's Hospital, Beijing Genomic Institute (BGI), Laboratory of Pathogenic Microbiology of the Institute of Immunological Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and the telecommunications company ZTE, in Shenzen, China. The document establishes the foundations for a scientific cooperation agreement that will allow the setting up of two Brazil-China Centers for Research and Prevention of Infectious Diseases, one in Brazil and one in China.
According to the agreement, the centres will address basic and translational research applied to health, focusing on the prevention and control of epidemics such as influenza viruses, chikungunya, zika, dengue, yellow fever and oropouche fever , as well as other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis. The document represents a follow up to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Foundation and Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) in November, in São Paulo.
Six main activities are planned for the new center: a) the joint development and implementation of research projects related to the diseases listed above; b) the exchange of researchers and experts; c) the promotion of technological development; d) the exchange of information, technologies and materials, including clinical and biological samples; e) the joint organization of scientific workshops and conferences; f) the joint publication of scientific articles.
One of the first consequences of the agreement will be the delivery of a nucleic acid sequencing of next generation sequencing plataform for research purposes to Fiocruz, manufactured by BGI. The equipment will be installed in Rio de Janeiro. BGI will provide the technical and scientific assistance for the device, and two Fiocruz professionals have already been in China being trained for its operation.
Other measures set forth in the agreement include the creation of a telemedical platform for communication between scientists in Brazil and China, investment in the training of young scientists and the granting of spaces on Fiocruz campus in Rio de Janeiro and Shenzhen People's Hospital for setting up the headquarters of the joint research center.
Upon signing the document, president of Fiocruz Nísia Trindade Lima stated the importance of Fiocruz for both Brazil and global health. According to Lima, “this collaboration will bring benefits for the health of Brazilian and Chinese people, as well as humankind in general”.
Director-general of CDC-China George Fu Gao, in turn, pointed out that instead of placing one country “ first” in relation to another we should put “earth first”. He remembered that the Zika virus was first identified in Africa, and then was a responsible for epidemics in both Brazil in China. He also mentioned the role of Brazil and China in the creation of the Brics and in health cooperation in Africa.
A working group composed of four members from each country was formed to continue the establishment of the research centers. Besides Lima, the Brazilian delegation that has been in China was composed by the vice-president of management and institutional development of Fiocruz, Mario Moreira, by the director of the Center for Technological Development in Health (CDTS/Fiocruz), Carlos Morel, by the advisor of the Fiocruz Global Health Center (Cris/Fiocruz) Lúcia Marques, and by the global communications advisor at the CDTS, André Lobato.