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Following through on a decision

Miguel Mitne Neto is a biologist who specializes in genetics, he is a scientific advisor in a company and he works for assistance organizations

Carreiras_Foto-Miguel-2013-2textoprofPersonal archives“There is research activity outside academia,” says Miguel Mitne Neto, scientific advisor for research and development with the Fleury Group. “Unfortunately, these alternatives are few and far between, but a substantial amount of knowledge exists that can be explored more efficiently in the university,” Neto says. Mitne Neto, 33, majored in biological sciences and graduated from the University of São Paulo (USP). He has been with Fleury since 2011, where he conducts molecular tests. He has already worked on eight products from startup to market launch. Three of the products are for leukemia, and there is also a test to identify changes in the HIV virus. One of the reasons Fleury hired him was the knowledge he acquired in genetics while he was working on his PhD. FAPESP provided funding for his doctoral studies at the USP Biosciences Institute (IB), and for the sandwich doctorates experience at the University of California at San Diego and the Baylor College of Medicine, both in the United States.

For Neto’s doctoral thesis, his advisors were Professor Mayana Zatz, from the IB, who serves as coordinator at the Human Genome and Stem-Cell Research Center (HUG-CELL), one of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (RIDCs) at FAPESP. “My natural career path would be to work as a professor, but I wondered if I could be a researcher outside academia and I decided to try this option during the last six months of my doctoral studies,” Neto explains. This happened when the opportunity arose at Fleury, a company that partners with HUG-CELL. “Now I am able to conduct basic and applied research on products that I would not be able to work on until the final phase, at the point when they were being processed into the end product; this is quite infrequent in universities.”

During his doctoral studies and throughout his academic career, Neto has worked on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease that is fatal between three and five years after the condition appears. There are family histories in up to 10% of cases, while the remaining 90% consist of a diversity of patients and the causes are unknown. In the company, Mitne Neto is working on a method to identify protein related to ALS in the human body. He is also serving in a volunteer capacity as scientific coordinator of the Brazilian Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (Abrela) and the Paulo Gontijo Institute (IPG). The latter is a non-profit that carries out activities to advance scientific studies and to shed more light on the disease for professionals, patients and families.