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History of FAPESP

FAPESP 50 years

On the way to its fiftieth anniversary

Alckmin and Lafer (center) in the Carvalho Pinto Auditorium

Eduardo Cesar Alckmin and Lafer (center) in the Carvalho Pinto AuditoriumEduardo Cesar

FAPESP started celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, which is actually in May 2012, in great style. On May 23, at an event attended by the São Paulo state governor, Geraldo Alckmin, the Foundation reopened its São Paulo auditorium, now named after Governor Carlos Alberto de Carvalho Pinto (1910-1987), in honor of this public figure who governed São Paulo state from 1959 to 1963 and who was responsible for the decree, signed on May 23, 1962, that created FAPESP. At the ceremony, investments of R$182.6 million were announced for two modalities for the Support Program for Research Infrastructure, namely: Multiuser Equipment, and Museums, Archive Centers for Information and Documents, and Biological Collections. Another important announcement was the launch of a new public call for the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (Cepid). Approximately R$495 million are to be earmarked over the next 11 years for the running of 15 world-class research centers.

The FAPESP chairman, Celso Lafer, recalled the Foundation’s early days and highlighted the figure of former governor Carvalho Pinto. “The tribute is thoroughly deserved,” states Lafer, reminding us that the creation of the Foundation, which the state constitution of 1947 had provided for, was included by Carvalho Pinto in his Action Plan. “The initiative for the project that became a law authorizing the Executive branch to institute FAPESP was his, and he actually did institute it by means of Decree 40132 of May 23, 1962,” said Lafer. At the ceremony, two plaques honoring Carvalho Pinto were unveiled in the presence of his daughter, Lia de Carvalho Pinto Lang.

According to Celso Lafer, the directives expressed in the Foundation’s statutes, established in 1962, continue to be in effect and are still perfectly up-to-date. These directives, said the chairman, determined that FAPESP was to support research rather than conduct research itself, provide guidance and grants, without interfering with the personality of researchers or institutions, and that restrictions as to the type of research conducted did not apply. “The statutes also determined that the interdependence of basic research and applied research be acknowledged, capped the Foundation’s administrative expenses at 5% of the Foundation’s budget, required the republican rendering of accounts, and objectiveness and impartiality in the evaluation of the requests submitted, via peer analysis, leading to the academic community becoming integrated with FAPESP’s decision-making process,” stated Lafer. Furthermore, the president of the Foundation stressed the role of the state congress representatives in 1989, who raised from 0.5% to 1% the percentage of tax collections earmarked for FAPESP and who also added the technological development directive to the Foundation’s mission. “In 2010, FAPESP disbursed R$780.3 million in research funding, of which 36% was for the training and improvement of human resources, via grants, and 64% for research funding directly.”

FAPESP’s scientific director, Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, presented data on the Foundation to governor Alckmin, highlighting the importance of the new investments announced. R$159 million will be earmarked for the purchase of 251 pieces of scientific equipment, proposed by 118 approved projects under the Multiuser Equipment Program (EMU). One of the objectives of the call, released in 2009, was to upgrade the laboratories at the research institutions in the state to the level of the world’s most up-to-date. “These centralized laboratories have sophisticated, modern instruments and the idea is that they should be used by researchers from other institutions, including people from other states and countries,” said Brito Cruz. The approved list of instruments has been published on the website.

Innovative concepts
R$23.5 million are to be invested in the Support Program for Museums, Archive Centers for Information and Documents, and Biological Collections for the development and implementation of 40 selected projects, that are to propose innovative ideas on storage and organization and on making all this available. The approved projects are to cover adapting the facilities and computerizing the collections of the Zoology Museum at the University of São Paulo and the Butantan Institute as well as making them accessible for consulting, modernizing the Public Archives of São Paulo state, the reorganization of the systems at the Pinacoteca Gallery of São Paulo State, making the Anita Malfatti Collection available online, and the full organization of the collection of the Lina Bo and P. M. Bardi Institute.

The opening of the second public call of the program for Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (Cepids) was also announced. This will select up to 15 proposals. These centers have a multidisciplinary approach to different fields of knowledge and their objective is to conduct fundamental research, research oriented to the transfer of technology, and activities that promote education and the dissemination of knowledge. Each Cepid can be granted as much as R$4 million a year for a five-year period, initially, renewable for two further three-year periods. The pre-proposal submission deadline is August 15. In 2000, the program approved the creation of 11 centers in the area of cancer research and treatment, optics and photonics, urban and violence studies, sleep, the human genome, cellular therapy, the development of ceramic materials, structural molecular biology and toxinology. These centers can compete for funds in the new call. “The Cepids, comprised of highly qualified research teams, focus on bold projects that depend on a long period of maturity,” said the scientific director of FAPESP.

Brito Cruz emphasized that government investments in research in São Paulo come mainly from state funds (62%) rather than from federal funds (38%). “This illustrates the state government’s effort to ensure ongoing funding for science and technology,” he stated. He listed the projects with FAPESP support that have been well covered in important international journals and showed that the Foundation, besides investing in applied research to develop new technologies and cure diseases, also sponsors the progress of knowledge in basic science, which is what makes humankind wiser.

In his speech, state governor Geraldo Alckmin highlighted the scientific production of São Paulo state, which invests 1.64% of its GDP in Research and Development (R&D) producing 52% of Brazilian science, as measured by the number of articles published in indexed journals. “FAPESP has democratic origins and practices, because it was conceived in the democratic climate that followed the New State. It is also an advanced institution, that combines speculative knowledge and technological development, and a solid one, thanks to a continuous flow of funds that are strictly and efficiently managed,” he stated. “The people of São Paulo have FAPESP to keep the state at the forefront of science and technology.”