December’s Pesquisa FAPESP is actually a double issue. In it we have the regular magazine, whose cover is devoted to the water shortage—a subject that is highly important to many areas of endeavor, including scientific research; and we have an issue commemorating the 80-year history of the University of São Paulo (USP) as of 2014. In that backward glance, we look past the occasional crisis to gain a broad perspective on the most significant aspects of the present-day scientific output of Brazil’s largest university; and we attempt to identify the threads that connect it to the institution’s early years and to its evolution over time. In all, the issue comes to 176 pages—184 if we count the cover pages—intended for the readers’ unhurried enjoyment. It seems a fitting way to approach the end of the year, when we feel a bit fatigued and in need of a certain serenity to refocus our energy before beginning a new cycle.
This month, rather than use my customary practice of highlighting a few articles and explaining why they merit special attention, I will indulge in the luxury of recommending the magazine in its entirety. The reason is simply that I must use this space to announce that this is the final “Letter from the Editor” that I will write here. It is with a touch of reluctance—as we always feel when we are about to take leave of a project or product to which we happily devoted the best of our skill and ability over many years—that I will be leaving Pesquisa FAPESP, one of my beloved “children,” as I have been known to playfully and affectionately call it. Out of personal imperative, or restlessness, or intellectual conviction, I now must devote time and energy to a new project that involves journalism/science communication and is aimed at a sizeable youthful readership—an idea I have nurtured over the past five years. Will it succeed? I don’t know. Risks abound, but I will do my utmost to make it work because I am convinced that, if successful, it could turn into an important new contribution to science communication and the broadening of science culture in Brazilian society.
Funded and conceived with strategic vision and remarkable sensitivity by this extraordinary institution known as the São Paulo Research Foundation, Pesquisa FAPESP has become nothing less than a vital contribution to science journalism and science communication in Brazil. It has been a splendid journey from the small, four-page newsletter with a thousand-copy circulation in August 1995—so simple that I could do it alone in a couple of days—to this substantial, sophisticated publication that requires not only outstanding scientists from all fields who are eager to talk about their work, but also a team of brilliant, dedicated professionals to prepare it month after month, coordinating the print magazine, the website, videos and the radio program. And every step of the way, what has never ceased to remain apparent is the dynamism and vitality of an institution. At a certain moment in time, FAPESP decided that it was worthwhile to give a new kind of visibility to the scientific output of São Paulo and Brazil. And that is what it did, tasking professional writers with consistently finding the best terms, and reserving for itself the role of overseeing the quality of the product—which would come to be an important part of its intellectual property.
In these words that I devote to Pesquisa FAPESP, I believe that the readers will perceive not arrogance, but justified pride, along with a sense of gratitude towards an institution that made way for the creation of an important magazine, and the conviction that this publication has the brilliance and the strength to go far. All that remains for me is to offer my many thanks to the readers, the researchers/sources/colleagues, my team, the magazine’s scientific committee, its editorial board, the staff of FAPESP, the managers and presidents of the Foundation over the past 20 years, and the members of its Board of Trustees. Optimist that I am, in another 20 years I hope to be able to offer as positive a progress report as this one in reference to the challenges now ahead of me.