An interdisciplinary delegation of researchers and educators, led by UC Davis, met this month at the Integrated Biological Networks Driving Disease Outcomes conference in Uberlândia, Brazil, to explore new opportunities for collaboration with the Brazilian Research Network in the biomedical and translational sciences.
The conference was held at the Universidade Federal de Uberlandia (UFU), one of the country's most prominent public universities and a key partner in expanding UC Davis Health System's connections to Brazil. Nearly 200 colleagues from throughout the country attended, including representatives from public and private research foundations, as well as investigators, postdoctoral scholars and students from multiple universities.
Co-chairs of the conference were Satya Dandekar, professor and chair of medical microbiology and immunology at UC Davis School of Medicine, and Luiz Goulart, a professor at UFU's Institute of Genetics and Biochemistry and visiting professor in UC Davis' medical microbiology and immunology department.
Goulart and Dandekar first began working with UFU in 2009, promoting scholarly activities, research collaborations, and faculty and trainee exchanges.
"Interactions with Brazilian institutions provide UC Davis students, researchers and clinicians tremendous opportunities for new collaboration and study," said Dandekar. "Like the United States, Brazil has an extraordinarily diverse population and faces challenges of human and plant diseases. Pathogens know no borders, and international collaborations like this enable scientists to leverage their strengths and apply 'One World One Health ' approaches to improve health. Areas of study will range from defining the biological networks driving disease outcomes to developing new biomarkers and sensor platforms for the detection and management of infectious diseases and cancer, which affect communities worldwide."
The conference focused on expanding UC Davis' existing relationships with Brazil, especially in the fields of biomedical research and translational science. Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at UC Davis, participated in the conference's opening ceremony. The Brazilian Research Network presented Pomeroy with an Award for Innovation in Health and Social Responsibility in recognition of her dedication to improving human health and reducing health disparities.
The UC Davis delegation presented sessions on infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS, cancer molecular biology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, imaging, bioinformatics and immunology, among others. UC Davis faculty members who attended the conference included:
- Ralph deVere White, director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center
- Lars Berglund, senior associate dean of research and director of the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center
- Abhaya Dandekar, professor of plant sciences
- Kit Lam, professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine
- George Thompson, Andreas Baumler and Renee Tsolis, all professors of medical microbiology and immunology
- Ricardo Castro, professor of chemical engineering and materials science
- R. Holland Cheng, professor of molecular and cellular biology
- Sumathi Sankaran-Walters, a fellow in the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) program.
Health system projects that result from this conference will complement existing Brazilian programs at UC Davis, including 12 agreements of cooperation with Brazilian educational and research organizations and the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program, which has funding for more than 100 Brazilian fellowships at UC Davis in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These programs underscore Brazil's significant investment in a knowledge-based economy and in the advancement of science.
"International collaborations are vital to achieving our educational and research missions," said Berglund. "Perspectives of researchers from other regions of the world inspire us to ask new questions, find better solutions, and increase the scope, quality and impact of our work."
The collaboration with Brazil represents UC Davis' and UC Davis Health System's commitment to improve lives and transform health care at the local, national and global levels. It is one of the many international relationships UC Davis Health System has developed over the years to improve health, including projects with Mexico, China, Korea and Sweden.