France opens research center at USP in partnership with Fapesp – 03/28/2024 – Science

France opens research center at USP in partnership with Fapesp – 03/28/2024 – Science


USP and Fapesp (Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo) signed, this Wednesday (27), at the university’s São Paulo campus, three agreements involving a new partnership with CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique ), the French state body for research.

“It’s an immense opportunity”, he tells Sheet Carlos Gilberto Carlotti, dean of USP, about the partnership. “It’s a new step in USP’s internationalization.”

One of the agreements concerns Fapesp’s financing instruments to support research at the IRC CNRS-USP Transitions (CNRS International Research Center for Worlds in Transitions), which will be installed at USP. The CNRS is a public scientific research body, with a budget of around €4 billion per year (R$21.6 billion).

Another agreement concerns the installation of an International Research Laboratory for immunological research at the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto at USP, in the interior of São Paulo. It is also an arm of IRC.

Finally, the third agreement takes the CNRS office out of Rio de Janeiro and brings it to São Paulo, at USP.

Antoine Petit, president-director of the CNRS, says that, last year, he received a key from Carlotti for the USP space. “But it was an empty space”, jokes Petit, in an interview with Sheet. “But now you see, it’s a good space to organize meetings, and we already organize scientific meetings. We decided to move our office from Rio to here, to USP. This office will be responsible for all of South America.”

Thus, despite the formalization that has taken place at this time, the partnership between USP and CNRS began last year, according to those involved, and there are already projects underway.

Nicolas Riteau was the first French researcher to arrive in Brazil as part of the partnership. At USP in Ribeirão, he does research in the area of ​​immunology, looking more specifically at pulmonary fibrosis.

“I’m very happy to come back and sign this letter of intent to create this center”, says Petit, who comments that, “without wanting to get into politics, things are easier now [do ponto de vista de cooperação e relação entre Brasil e França] than in previous years”.

In addition to the immunological area, the IRC will also develop research in the areas of humanities, oceans, decarbonization, biodiversity, high-performance computing and quantum technologies.

Other partnerships with IRC centers, such as the IRC CNRS-USP Transitions, already exist with the universities of Arizona and Chicago, in the United States, with Imperial College London, in the United Kingdom, and with the University of Tokyo, in the Japan — and another unit will probably be opened in Canada soon.

Although there are areas of interest, Petit states that there should be no limitations and that the doors will be open to researchers from both institutions who have ideas.

In general terms, USP will be responsible for the infrastructure and reception of researchers; the CNRS will send the scientists; and Fapesp will support the projects.

“We will consider French researchers who are working here as if they were from the state of São Paulo”, he tells Sheet Marco Antonio Zago, president of Fapesp. “Then they will be able to receive support from Fapesp for independent projects and Fapesp will provide support for the project and for additional things, such as meetings and seminars. This will bring the project to life.”

The exact financial resources involved in the partnership are not yet clear, as this is the first year of the project, according to Zago. “Next year it will be easier to calculate,” he says.

Petit, in the same vein, states that it is difficult to estimate at this time, but risks a figure of around €3 million (R$16.2 million) over a period of five years.

The amount invested by CNRS will, at least, be matched by Fapesp, according to Zago. Representatives of the institutions also highlight the possibility of more international contributions for research.

Vahan Agopyan, Secretary of Science, Technology and Innovation for the state of São Paulo, was also pleased with the attraction of CNRS to São Paulo. “We are happy to prove that we have this environment for research and development,” he told Sheet. “Our biggest task is to be able to translate excellent research work into innovation.”

Macron in Brazil

“Unfortunately, Emmanuel Macron will not visit the center”, says Petit, referring to the fact that the French president passed through São Paulo this Wednesday (27). “We offered, but his schedule is very complicated. But he knows the center exists.”

The president-director of the CNRS —and representatives of other institutions— also recalled the center’s interest in biodiversity, especially remembering the French lands in the Amazon, with French Guiana.

In fact, Macron was in the area and also visited the Brazilian Amazon together with Brazilian President Lula.


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