Iniciativa Proxima Symposium Held in Porto Alegre, Brazil

March 1, 2024

Iniciativa Proxima, an organization established in 2020 with support from Yale University, helps young Brazilian students emerge as leaders in the field of biomedical sciences. Founded and led by Marcelo Dietrich, Associate Professor at the Yale School of Medicine, the initiative seeks to link promising

young Brazilian scientists with experienced researchers worldwide.

Professor Dietrich organized the Proxima Symposium, an international symposium which brought together numerous young researchers from different Brazilian states with the aim of strengthening the scientific community in December 2023. The symposium took place from December 11th to 13th, 2023 at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in Porto Alegre.

The pre-opening workshop, themed “Frontiers of Biological and Biomedical Sciences: Personalized Medicine,” was organized with the support of Hospital Moinho and featured talks by renowned researchers Eduardo Zimmer, an adjunct professor in Pharmacology at UFRGS, and Luis Saraiva, the principal investigator and interim director of the Division of Modeling Human Diseases and Therapeutics at Sidra Medicine, Qatar. At this pre-event held on December 10th, Eduardo Zimmer discussed personalized medicine, emphasizing on adapting medical treatment to the characteristics of each individual patient, while Luis Saraiva focused on genetic mutations in renal patients and corresponding treatments.

 “We showed the attendees there is no single path - each student is unique with different characteristics and backgrounds. We encouraged them to keep pursuing their goals,” said Professor Dietrich. The symposium included over 15 internationally renowned professionals, such as Brazilian neuroscientist Ivan de Araujo, director at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany; Lebanese neurobiologist Bassem Hassan, scientific director and research at the Institut du Cerveau in France; and Argentine Claudia Valeggia, professor of Anthropology and chair at the Council on Latin American & Iberian Studies at Yale University, among many others.

“Attending the Iniciativa Proxima conference in Porto Alegre was the highlight of the semester for me. I had the great honor to present my research with indigenous communities in Argentina to an attentive and enthusiastic audience. The students posed insightful questions that showed how bright and engaged they are with doing good and transformational science,” noted Professor Valeggia.

The CEO of Hospital Moinhos de Vento, Mohamed Parrini, emphasized the institution’s commitment to research and science, highlighting the hosting of the event as a significant contribution to the international scientific research scene. Before its sold out attendance, the Proxima Symposium had anticipated over 100 participants from various Brazilian regions, with 30 students receiving financial support to ensure food, transportation, and accommodation in Porto Alegre. “The Symposium was overwhelmingly successful, bringing together a uniquely talented and trained cohort of students to broadly discuss state-of-the-art science on biological and biomedical sciences, shaping the way for a better future in science and education. Our team is now planning the next symposium for early 2026,” concluded Professor Dietrich.

Leda Blaires Ciotti