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Telling an exemplary tale

Our planning of this special issue of Pesquisa FAPESP was guided entirely by a concept that developed during a meeting of the Foundation’s Executive Board (CTA) in the second half of 2011, during discussions of some of the details surrounding the commemoration of the institution’s 50th anniversary, which occurs on May 23, 2012. Present were FAPESP President Celso Lafer and members of the Board, namely former CEO Ricardo Renzo Brentani (who passed away on November 29, 2011 and was replaced in February of this year by José Arana Varela), Scientific Director Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, and Managing Director Joaquim de Camargo Engler. It was suggested that this special issue should feature 50 articles related to 50 of the projects that had been supported by the Foundation during its history. The articles would be chosen as representative of FAPESP’s building a body of scientific knowledge in many different fields.

As the next step, the scientific director and his assistant coordinators were given the unenviable task of bringing down the gavel on the 50 projects that would be selected from a list of 100 developed by magazine staff to appear in the special issue. Consideration would need to be given to retaining the same proportionality among the institutes from which projects originate that is actually observed in distributing FAPESP support, based on merit, to proposals that are submitted to it.

Actually, selection was just the beginning of the work that this issue would demand of the advisors, all of them members, along with the Foundation’s three directors, of the scientific committee for Pesquisa FAPESP. Until all the files were finally sent to the printer on May 22, these individuals were continually bombarded with demands from the journalists who had authored the articles, seeking information, interviews, data, citations of scientific articles and, later, critical read-throughs, clarification of doubts, and submission of bright ideas for the design of complicated information graphics. To their credit, they managed to respond to all these requests. Therefore, it is essential to list their names and express appreciation for their efforts on behalf of the magazine staff. To that end, I will list them in the order in which their names appear under the heading of “scientific committee” on the magazine masthead. They are: Luiz Henrique Lopes dos Santos (chairman), Cylon Gonçalves da Silva, Francisco Antônio Bezerra Coutinho, João Furtado, José Roberto Parra, Luís Augusto Barbosa Cortez, Luís Fernandez Lopez, Marie-Anne Van Sluys, Mário José Abdalla Saad, Paula Montero, Sérgio Queiroz, Wagner do Amaral, and Walter Colli. We take this opportunity to remind our readers that every issue of Pesquisa FAPESP is the result of an intense cooperative and creative effort among the researchers who are our principal sources and the journalists, mediators of information. Our intention is to produce the clearest possible texts on Brazil’s most significant scientific output. It was no different in the case of this special issue.

Lastly, we must say something about the immense journalistic and artistic effort mobilized for this special issue. First, we should note that it was done in the closest possible cooperation with the Foundation’s communications management office, headed by Graça Mascarenhas, whom since January we have without interruption been asking to provide information, figures, texts, and pictures—which she always provided with the greatest efficiency. We must also mention the daily support from Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva, FAPESP communications consultant who, in addition to his normal duties has so many times come up with excellent ideas for improving the quality of the product. And, finally, we must say how truly gratifying it has been to deal with a fine team of the best Brazilian journalists in the field of science, some of whom are part of the regular Pesquisa FAPESP team, and the collaborators whom we called in from other media to become part of this exciting issue. I won’t name them here because there are so many of them, but their signatures appear on each text to which they dedicated themselves. I also want to make special mention of the excellent work by Carlos Floravanti as my direct assistant in this project, and the beautiful work by designer Mayumi Okuyama, who used to be the art director of this magazine, whom I sought out for this special mission. Please note that this issue was being prepared at the same time as we were producing the regular issues of the magazine. This meant that it was crucial to call upon outside resources. We hope that this special issue of the magazine, a celebration of 50 years of FAPESP, remains a living, lasting and printed testimony to how much this Foundation has contributed to the advancement of knowledge during its 50 years of existence.