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Past, present and future

Agrarian and Veterinary Sciences. Biology. Health. These three areas of knowledge have always been strong points in São Paulo research. Three areas of knowledge that have traditional institutions, some centenarians, responsible for research whose results transformed the outlook of the State in fundamental questions such as public health, medical service and agricultural production. Three areas of knowledge that count on young institutions, but who have already made important scientific contributions. Unfortunately, all of them, both young and old, had their research environments jeopardized to a greater or lesser extent. This was the picture before the Infrastructure Program.

Together, these three areas received R$ 125.4 million for the restoration of their laboratories. The majority had their electrical circuits and water pipes in ruins, incapable of supporting the installation of new equipment that demanded stable electrical energy. Professor Wagner Farid Gattaz, at the Psychiatry Institute of the Medical Faculty of USP, recalls in his statement that on his first working day in a location improvised as a neuroscience laboratory, on switching on the air conditioning, he caused a power failure in the building, stopping surgery that was being carried out in the Hospital das Clinicas. At the Botany Institute of the Secretary of State for the Environment, the researchers of the mycology laboratory, who cultivate and study fungi and their applications in agriculture, in environment recovery and in the food industry, constantly had their material contaminated by undesirable fungi that proliferated on the damp walls due to plumbing leaks.

These are only two examples that summed up the situation, classified by professor Eduardo Moacyr Krieger of the Heart Institution (Incor) and president of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, as “on the brink of calamity.” By investing in the laboratories, the Infrastructure Program influenced the working conditions and the mood of researchers. Lines of research which had been paralyzed were re-opened and new ones were created. The research increased in quantity and in quality, the researchers themselves say it. They further point out, as positive consequences, the increase in the publication of scientific results and of the exchange with researchers from other institutions in the country and abroad.

“Even with a reduced team when compared to the years prior to the Infra, we managed to increase the productivity and the quality of research, to broaden the lines of research and the range of routine examinations” says the researcher Odair Zenebon of the Adolfo Lutz Institute. Antônio Carlos Seguro of the Medical School of USP, makes his own evaluation. “Beginning in 1996, the year in which the Infra projects got started, we had an increase of at least 100% in the number of papers published abroad.” Also, Carlos Martins Menck, of the Biomedical Sciences Institute of USP points out “Only over the last three years, the Microbiology Department has doubled its scientific production. The reform also enabled the coming back of new professors and researchers who were abroad.”