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Letter from the editor | 197

Stimulating paths for reflection

In this issue, Pesquisa FAPESP offers its readers undoubtedly important articles for the current debate –  vital for Brazil – on how to effectively transform scientific knowledge into products with high added value and  into other socially useful assets. Strictly speaking, the cover story, by our scientific and technological policy editor, Fabrício Marques, starting on page 320, deals with the role of the transfer of technology from the offices of major universities. One must say that, from Harvard to the São Paulo state universities, this role is currently being rethought, reformed and expanded because of the need to strengthen and make the articulation between knowledge producing centers and the producers of goods and services more efficient. The knowledge society is bending over backwards to shorten and smoothen the pathway between these two sets of players.

As Fabrício says, after describing the results of the recent restructuring of Harvard’s Office of Technological Development (OTD), the movement of this world class university is an example of what is being outlined in other similar offices around the world. I reproduce its words: “Besides the routine tasks, which consist in identifying discoveries of economic potential and protecting them with patents, these offices encompass various other activities, such as fostering long-term research collaboration between companies and laboratories, helping to create enterprises based on nascent technologies, rounding up private-sector investors to finance them, offering the consulting services of researchers to industry and encouraging entrepreneurship even among undergraduate students.” There are several offices whose practices, along these lines, are examined in detail in the article. Additionally, besides the importance of the subject and the thoughts that it can fuel about the need to multiply, in Brazil, experiences similar to those of such offices, the article offers, in its own organic, flowing and vigorous text, yet one more reason for reading it.

For most of June, another very different report held the position of favorite candidate for the issue’s cover story, but lost this position at the last minute, thanks to the power of the article on the offices of the transfer of technology. I am referring to the article by our science editor Ricardo Zorzetto about a new and daring theoretical proposal in the neurological and psychiatric field, put forth by a researcher from Rio Grande do Sul state who is highly conversant with the knowledge developed over the last few years by colleagues in other parts of the world on the subject of depression and bipolar disorder. The hypothesis in question regards the depression and mania crises typical of these conditions as being responsible, after a certain number of occurrences, for a toxic effect upon the organism as a whole, beyond the damages that they are already known to cause to the mood and the thinking, planning and learning capabilities of those who suffer from these disorders. It is a scientifically well founded approach, which provides new evidence of the impact of the psyche upon the body, of mental illness upon its biological substrate, of its effects upon the entire body, reinstating the unity and organicness that knowledge tried to keep apart for so long. It is worth reading it, starting on page 40.

Finally, I highlight this issue’s interview with professor Eduardo Moacyr Krieger (page 28) about his career path and his seminal scientific work in the field of hypertension, his role in organizing one of the most important research groups in this field and his tireless militancy in scientific institutions such as the Brazilian Academy of Science, aiming to make the Brazilian scientific community relevant at international forums. One should add that professor Krieger, now 84 years old, speaks in an extraordinarily stimulating way to those who enjoy hearing about unique ways to build knowledge throughout life. Enjoy your reading!