December 1, 2020
The following interview is part of the European Studies Council and Council on Latin American & Iberian Studies collaborative collection titled “On the Ground Perspectives.” This new series features our international academic collaborators and institutional partners, investigating their research and other institutional priorities during the pandemic. The series aims to surface common challenges and showcase best practices for ongoing collaboration during this unusually challenging time.
The following profile was written after conversations and e-mail exchanges with Professor Valmor Tricoli, Professor and Provost for International Cooperation at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil.
As researchers seek to understand and respond to the COVID-19 epidemic, international collaborations have never been more vital. While the challenges to sustaining international collaboration in these times are well known, some researchers are finding new ways to stay connected.
“I want to believe that we are learning new ways to collaborate. I hope that the lack of face-to-face interaction will result in a more “democratic” (more inclusive) and less expensive approaches to internationalization and improvement of the quality of our partnerships,” says Professor Valmor Tricoli.
Professor Tricoli is full professor in the School of Physical Education and Sport and Provost for International Cooperation at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil. In this role, Professor Tricoli works with Yale’s Council on Latin American & Iberian Studies to promote the research and student exchange between USP and Yale. Along with CLAIS and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, USP is helping to organize an online April 2021 conference on COVID-19.
As governments and institutions continue to modify their policies in response to the virus, online collaborations will ensure that researchers share best practices and the latest research in public health. Speaking about the situation at USP, Professor Tricoli describes a cautious and ultimately successfully approach to re-opening USP for research.
“Research was one of the few activities that has been less affected [by the virus]. During the beginning of the pandemic, access to the university research facilities was restricted with the exception of laboratories and research groups working with COVID-19 related topics. After a few months, access was progressively granted together with the presentation of a research and personnel return plan. In addition, special attention was given to labs involving human subjects.”
USP has managed not only to keep research going, but has also made positive strides in public health responses to the illness. For example, researchers from the Polytechnic School of USP have invented a portable respiratory ventilator. Named INSPIRE, the machine can be quickly deployed to hospitals experiencing shortages of regular ventilators in a cost way below the market.
USP is involved in many other actions and research lines related to COVID-19. These include, among others, vaccine research, new treatments, producing and evaluation protective materials for health professionals, and the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Additionally, the University Hospital of USP in São Paulo is part of a program titled “Everyone against COVID-19” that supports the hospital’s commitment to prioritize treatment of the pandemic across the more vulnerable sectors of society.
To read more about USP and its responses to COVID-19, please see: