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Letter from the editor | 78

Advance over cancer

A team from the Human Genome Center of the Biosciences Institute at the University of São Paulo (USP) recently made a discovery which immediately brought with it two good pieces of knowledge for science. The researchers demonstrated that it is already possible to recognize a prostrate cancer marker on gene COL18A1 – which opens the way for an early diagnosis. The work does not mean that the cause for this type of tumor, the second most frequent among men in Brazil, has been found. However, it is already possible to know that people with this modified gene have a real risk of developing the illness. The relevance of the discovery can be measured by the fact that it was stamped across the cover of the 15th of October issue of the magazine Cancer Research, of the American Association of Cancer Research – this is the second good piece of news. The publication is one of the most important in the area throughout the world. It is not every month that a group of Brazilian researchers manage these two things: to complete a piece of work of outstanding scientific significance and to gain international recognition. As well it is worth highlighting that the Center of the Biosciences Institute is one of the Research, Innovation and Diffusion Centers (Cepids), supported by FAPESP. You can follow the details of the research beginning on page 40.

To discuss the directions for science, technology and innovation over the coming ten years, 1,200 researchers, entrepreneurs, businesspersons, parliamentarians and representatives of ministries, development agencies and research foundations, met in Brasília from the 18th until the 21st of October. All took part of the National Conference of Science, Technology and Innovation. The objective: to come up with a diagnosis of the obstacles that obstinately hold back the advance of technology in the country and to define strategies to consolidate and expand academic research and entrepreneurial innovation. The participants didn’t shy away from analyzing the problems in depth – but always with the disposition of demonstrating possible paths. For example, entrepreneurs criticized the lack of the definition of an industrial policy for investments in innovation and asked for fiscal measures that could increase the external competitiveness of Brazilian products for export. A group of researchers, for their part, presented an optimistic position: the country should look to the future and forget about lost opportunities over the last few decades. The general balance of opinion can be checked on page 14.

A fine example of the relationship university/company is in another article of this issue about two projects that are helping Petrobrás to improve its efficiency in oil extraction in deep waters. A study by the Polytechnic School of USP shows how to make better use of super petrol tankers with a single hull as oceanic platforms. Today the study is helping Petrobrás to attain its goals.

In the section on Humanities, it is possible to find a more agreeable theme, but no less complex: what the Internet user is like, this new type of reader? The reply can be found in a report which scrutinizes the world of the web surfer. And to top it all, this issue comes with another supplement. This time Pesquisa FAPESP shows how the program Research into Public Policies is progressing. These projects are financed in partnership with public organs, and/or government/non-government organizations. A good example of how to bring knowledge to society.