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Visit to the Center for Structural Molecular Biotechnology of the IFSC and presentation at the annual meeting of the Brazilian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Over the last decade, the CEPID and INCT programs financed by both FAPESP and CNPq have been the principal sources of funding for our research group. The INCT project (INBEQMeDI) is directly related to the current proposal. One of the novel aspects of these programs is the requirement to be involved in science education. Specifically the Center for Structural Molecular Biotechnology (CBME, process 98/14138-2) and the National Institute for Structural Biology and Medicinal Chemistry in Infectious Diseases (INBEQMeDI/INCT, process 08/57910-0) have made special efforts to convey basic concepts in biotechnology in an understandable form for the lay public. As such, our objective has been to demystify topics which appear on a daily basis in the media. Our initiatives include an interactive museum, the design and manufacture of physical models, interactive games, CDs and educational videos, an extensive training program for local school teachers from state schools, science clubs and many others. Besides these, many local high schools book for their students to visit the CBME. Prof. Duax works at the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Institute, situated in the city of Buffalo, NY. Over recent years he has put much effort into educational and outreach programs. Currently, his principal activity is to bring students from the Buffalo area into the research laboratory, normally twice a week. Currently a group of such students is aiding Prof. Duax with one of his research projects, the evolution of the genetic code. In this sense, the activities currently undertaken by Prof. Duax are complementary to those of the CBME/INBEQMeDI, which has yet to extend its activities to the point of bringing students into the research laboratory. Prof. Duax's visit to São Carlos has the principal objective of working together to forward our outreach activities benefitting from his experience. As such, we believe that this contact with Prof. Duax will be highly motivational for our future initiatives aimed towards improving the quality of science teaching as well as identifying talented students with a vocation for science at an early age. As such, besides working directly with CBME staff members, Prof. Duax will give a series of seminars about his experiences and the methodology he employs. Besides his science teaching and outreach activities, Prof. Duax is also active as a research scientist in crystallography and related fields and is an ex-president of the International Union of Crystallography. The Hauptman-Woodward Medical Institute is dedicated to many fields of research related to the activities of CBME/INBEQMeDI including; protein structure determination using X-ray diffraction methods, the search for novel drugs, structural biology, bioinformatics and molecular evolution. For this reason, during his visit, Prof. Duax will give post-graduate talks about his research. There will be ample opportunity for Prof. Duax to interact with both post-graduate and under-graduate students. Amongst the topics of mutual interest are protein structure and function, medicinal chemistry, bioinformatics and molecular evolution. This will give us the opportunity to get to know the current methods being used at WHI which in the future could become part of our own research projects. Prof Duax's visit to our laboratory has been fixed to coincide with the annual meeting of the Brazilian Biochemical Society in Foz do Iguaçu, where he will talk about his successful experience in the use of bioinformatics tools for the study of molecular evolution and the way in which he has involved high-school students in this process. The SBBq has committed itself to financing his participation at that event and for this reason the current proposal focuses on the funding necessary for his travel to São Carlos and his living expenses whilst at out laboratory. (AU)

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