Center for Cell-Based Therapy at the University of São Paulo

Still kicking. The Center for Cell-Based Therapy at the University of São Paulo was one of three centers to receive funding in both the first and second rounds of the RIDC program.

Brazil Announces Funding for a Second Round of Multidisciplinary Research Centers

The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) has launched a second round of Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (RIDCs) in Brazil. The 17 new, multidisciplinary centers will receive a total of $680 million over 11 years for basic research, technology transfer initiatives, and outreach in a variety of fields including drug discovery and the social science of violence. FAPESP will provide half their funding, with the rest coming from the host institutions.

The RIDC program is designed "to offer funding for research groups which have especially bold scientific proposals that require funding for a long time," explains Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, the scientific director of FAPESP, which announced the new round of winners on 15 May. São Paulo's constitution guarantees 1% of the state's tax revenues to FAPESP every year, a provision that Brito calls "essential" to the foundation's ability to fund ambitious, long-term research projects like the RIDCs.

FAPESP funded the first round of RIDCs from October 2000 to December 2012. Three of the original 10 centers have basically been extended for a second decade: the Center for Metropolitan Studies, the Center for Cell-Based Therapy, and the Center for the Study of Violence.

The principal investigators (PIs) from five other original RIDCs also received second-round funding, largely to expand upon or advance the work of their first-round centers. The Center for Structural Molecular Biotechnology will become the Center for Research and Innovation in Biodiversity and Drug Discovery, for example, and the Human Genome Research Center will add stem cell research to its mission.

Nine of the second round RIDCs are entirely new. They include centers focused on food, glass, inflammatory disease, obesity, applied mathematics, computer science and engineering, and biomedicine, as well as two neuroscience initiatives.

Two of the original RIDCs did not receive second-round funding in any form: the Center for Sleep Studies and the Antonio Prudente Cancer Research Center. According to Brito, the PIs of these centers are eligible to apply for 5-year grants from FAPESP.

Brito hopes that the supporting institutions will step up in this second round of the program. Often in Brazil, "if [the researcher] gets more funding, he ends up spending more time of his own time managing the funds as opposed to working in science and research," Brito says. "So we had a very detailed discussion with each one of the institutions that host the 17 centers to make sure that they will offer enough managerial and administrative support."

The 17 second-round RIDCs were chosen from among 90 proposals vetted by an international panel of reviewers. The complete list is: the Food Research Center; the Center for Research, Teaching, and Innovation in Glass; the Center for Research and Development of Functional Materials; the Brazilian Research Institute for Neuroscience and Neurotechnology; the Center for Research on Inflammatory Diseases; the Center for Research and Innovation in Biodiversity and Drug Discovery; the Center for Research on Toxins, Immune Response, and Cell Signaling; the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics; the Center for Research in Mathematical Sciences Applied to Industry; the Obesity and Co-Morbidities Research Center; the Center for Cell-Based Therapy; the Center for Metropolitan Studies; the Human Genome and Stem-Cell Research Center; the Center for Computational Science and Engineering; the Center for Research on Redox Processes in Biomedicine; the Center for the Study of Violence; and the Optics and Photonics Research Center.

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