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U-M group visits Brazil to forge collaborations in education and research

September 4, 2012
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RIO DE JANEIRO—University of Michigan scientists and scholars led by President Mary Sue Coleman have visited Brazil to strengthen research and academic collaboration with several leading universities and foundations in South America’s largest country.

One of the first stops of the Sept. 22-28 trip was the University of Sao Paulo, the country’s biggest institution of higher education. Coleman signed a memorandum of understanding with the university’s Medical School.

“We share similar values with our higher education colleagues in Brazil: improving human health, protecting the environment and holding open our doors to students of all backgrounds,” Coleman said. “As much as we teach, we must also learn. International collaborations increase our understanding of the world to better prepare tomorrow’s global citizens.”

Education and research are fast-growing sectors in Brazil, with a half million graduates and 10,000 doctorates awarded each year. More than a quarter of all scientific papers by Brazilians have foreign co-authors. Brazil is also investing $1.5 billion in its “Science Without Borders” program, through which 100,000 Brazilian graduate and undergraduate students will have studied at a U.S. or European university by 2015.

After hosting a meeting with alumni in Sao Paulo, Coleman and the delegation traveled to Campinas, where the group visited  the Universidade Estadual de Campinas.

The third stop on the four-city tour was the capital, Brasilia. The group discussed possible collaboration with the National School of Public Administration and attended a meeting about Science Without Borders. Also on the itinerary was a meeting with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and a visit to the U.S. Embassy.

The last leg of the trip was Rio, where the group visited the Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro.

“The University of Michigan has a tradition of global engagement as one of our pillars of academic excellence,” Coleman said. “Many U-M researchers collaborate globally with peer scholars and scientists, making us a stronger university.”

U-M currently has nearly 6,000 international students. The first international students enrolled at U-M in the late 1840s.

Coleman previously led faculty delegations to China, Ghana and South Africa to establish academic partnerships. She plans to lead another faculty delegation to India in 2013.

One of the faculty members of the delegation to Brazil was Dr. Gary Hammer, professor of internal medicine at the Medical School and one of the world’s leading researcher of the rare disease adrenal cancer. Hammer said that the willingness of Brazilian colleagues to share DNA samples from their adrenal cancer cohort “has enabled us to leverage our sample set with the National Cancer Institute TCGA (The Cancer Genome Atlas) platform that has now agreed to invest significant resources to sequence the adrenal cancer genome.”

U-M and Brazilian institutions already have important partnerships, many of them led by the U-M Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies in an array of disciplines—from environmental studies and health sciences to history and the arts in collaboration with the University Musical Society.

The Latin America center enrolls more than 250 graduate and professional school students from 25 schools and departments in a variety of classes. Each year, an average of 15 U-M graduate students complete doctoral dissertations specifically focused on Latin America.

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