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Letter from the Editor | USP at 80

Continuities and discontinuities from the past to the present

When it comes to USP, numbers are almost always exponential, and the articles by Professors Celso Lafer and Brito Cruz that open this special supplement commemorating the 80-year anniversary of this great university provide a clear sample in this respect. Given this, selecting a limited number of research projects more appropriate than others to shed some light on USP’s scientific production over eight decades is not an easy task, and runs the risk of controversy. So, our first step was to decide that this supplement would consist of three, shall we say, obvious sections: science, technology and the humanities. From there, we decided that, to the extent possible, we would begin with important current research, whose finding are relevant now, and then look for a thread through past research until hopefully uncovering pioneering studies carried out during USP’s early years. We then defined the subfields for each section and set to work.

In the end, the 80 pages of the supplement produced by the in-house team of Pesquisa FAPESP and some special contributors suggest that while the thread of continuity over time is quite visible in some subfields, such as genetics, cardiology, social sciences or philosophy, in others it seems that discontinuities better explain the high quality of contemporary studies, such as in research on hypertension or archeology.  But we prefer to let readers come to their own conclusions. Viva la USP!