André Costa (CCS)
“We have a long history in common. The Pasteur Institute and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation not only share scientific knowledge, but also values. We are living a fascinating period in science, with the fusion of many disciplines. These new forms of scientific organization are very demanding, nothing is like 10 years ago anymore. We should keep that in mind when discussing collaborations. Thus, how can we anticipate where we will be 15 years from now?”
Christian Bréchot, president of the Pasteur Institute, made a declaration in the meeting held on April 4, at the Fiocruz campus in Rio de Janeiro, that called for bonds uniting both institutions in the past and the future. Fiocruz is linked from its foundation to the French institute, where the sanitarist who names the Foundation studied. Several joint actions have been developed by both institutions, which share not only scientific knowledge, but an understanding of health and science over time. And this closeness manifests once again in the current moment of renewal and new challenges in public health.
The meeting gathered Brazilian and French managers and researchers, as well as members of the French diplomatic staff and USP representatives. The agenda included projects that develop the historic agreement in partnership with the three institutions signed in 2015.
“We have a historic and strategic cooperation with Pasteur, and several projects under way. We want to move forward and to establish a common center. We will develop interdisciplinary programs involving several research fields to face infectious diseases and new health problems,” said the president of Fiocruz, Nísia Trindade Lima.
The first of the partnerships mentioned by Nísia should be disclosed soon: a call for joint projects between Pasteur, USP and Fiocruz comprising studies on vector-borne diseases, neuroscience and translational medicine, among others. The public notice is being prepared and will be disclosed as soon as finished.
Regarding the old dream in common of a Paster Institute of Brazil, the director of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute (IOC/Fiocruz), Wilson Savino, and responsible for the coordination of Regional and National Integration Strategies for Fiocruz, presented the Eusébio Campus, in Ceará, with its inauguration expected for the end of this year. Savino highlighted the facilities the unit shall have and placed it as one of possible Pasteur’s headquarters in Brazil.
The Eusébio Campus focuses on state-of-the-art research on infectious, molecular and neural diseases, among others. The researcher said that Fiocruz already has researchers from Ceará working with family health, environmental health and application of data use in the medical area, and reinforced other attractions of the center. “The state of Ceará has the best fiscal balance and the highest level of public investment in Brazil. Fiocruz Ceará will be part of a health hub in the state, including infrastructure and technology,” he stated.
Marc Jouan, International Vice-President for Pasteur, highlighted that the partnership between the institutions should evolve step-by-step, and the call for projects that will be disclosed is a good example of concrete actions to be taken according to him. “We need to streamline, to find concrete solutions. We want projects to be selected until July. This is a good example of joint work,” he stated.
Jouan added that, in the future, the ideal scenario would be the creation of a common fund for the three institutions to finance projects in common. “Thus, we would be able to launch projects all year long. We would need to be very flexible, also providing funds for researchers in France,” he said. Bréchot, the president of Pasteur, endorsed this idea, stating that the fund should not be “huge, but still very representative, especially of what is most advanced.”
Details on how to technically enable the creation of this fund and other partnerships were discussed during the rest of the meeting.