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Home  > Knowledge Networks  > News  > Portugal and Harvard Medical School Announce Joint Program

Portugal and Harvard Medical School Announce Joint Program

 - 27/04/2009

Harvard Medical School logo Senior figures from the Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal and the Harvard Medical School (HMS), met in Boston, USA, on 27 April 2007 to announce their intention of starting a long term collaboration which will lead to a significant development and expansion of clinical research and its transfer to Schools and Faculties of Medicine and the main Portuguese laboratories, and the creation and dissemination of medical content.

The meeting took place in Harvard Medical School. Representing the Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education was the Minister himself, José Mariano Gago, the Secretary of State, Manuel Heitor, the President of Science and Technology Foundation (FCT), João Sentieiro, and the President of Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), Luis Magalhães, accompanied by the Portuguese Consul in Boston, Manuela Barrios, and representing Harvard Medical School the Provost, Steven E. Hyman, the Dean for Graduate Education, David Golan, the Chief Editor of Harvard Health Publications, Anthony Komaroff, and the appointed Director at Harvard for the future Harvard Medical School-Portugal Program, Tomas Kirchhausen.

This Harvard-Portugal partnership will be formalised at an official ceremony to be held in Lisbon on 21 May 2009 under the scope of the Partnerships for the Future activity which is part of the Commitment to Science for Portugal's Future initiative which is establishing a national network seeking to modernise the teaching of Medicine, the improvement of specialised training in Medical Sciences and the production/distribution of new pedagogic material.

Coordination of the Harvard-Portugal Program will be the responsibility of the Schools and Faculties of Medicine and the largest Portuguese laboratories which work in the area of Biomedical Sciences and Health, working closely with the HMS. This will in turn be supervised by the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) and Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC). External assessment will be carried out by an independent panel to be designated by FCT.

“The establishment of the Harvard-Portugal Program will widen the scope of partnerships with prestigious North American universities already in operation, and provide new academic and scientific perspectives in areas which deal directly with the life of all citizens in any part of the world.. This partnership is of absolutely strategic importance, in so far as it enables national Schools and Faculties of Medicine and research laboratories to collaborate in clinical research and its transfer, a critical area for the future of Portugal and one of the main components of the HMS mission, thus further fostering transatlantic cooperation in Science and Technology”, stated the Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, José Mariano Gago.

“This important collaboration contains all the relevant elements that we are looking for in an international project - it is based on an educational focus, it facilitates academic cooperation and it will contribute to the development of medical content in the host country”, stated Steven E. Hyman, Provost of HMS, adding that the partnership being established with Portugal was extremely “innovative”.

Professors, researchers and students from the seven Portuguese Schools of Medicine and the main laboratories working in the field of biomedical research will participate in the Harvard-Portugal Program. At the University of Harvard this partnership will involve researchers from HMS and affiliated institutions, as well as professors and students of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Kennedy School of Government.
The envisaged areas of activity are the following:

  • A research Program to strengthen capacity for new clinical research and transferring this clinical knowledge into making an impact on specialised medical training and in clinical practice. 12 projects of an innovative nature will be supported, related to the area of human pathology.
  • To launch and promote postgraduate activities in Medicine, including Junior and Senior Research scholarships and scholarships for Career Development for physicians.
  • Produce and publish medical information for the general public, and distribute educational material through Medical students and health sector professionals.

The Harvard-Portugal was drawn up based on an Assessing Opportunities for Collaboration with Portugal study carried out by Harvard Medical School in 2007, which set forth a rigorous plan of activities to be carried out.

Meanwhile, Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) prepared the terms of references and carried out the public purchasing process for developing and installing the technological platform to support the production and public dissemination of medical information, namely the Public Tender for the Health and Biomedical Research Platform and the Public Tender for the Health and Biomedical Research Platform (hardware). The project for this platform was presented during a talk the President of Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) was invited to give on the Transfer of Scientific Knowledge to health professionals and citizens which opened the 1st Plenary Session of the 16th European Public Health Conference which was held in Lisbon from 6 to 8 November 2008, on the theme “Innovation, Knowledge and Citizens – Science promoting health and preventing disease, and the citizen”, which formed part of the annual meetings of the European Public Health Association (EUPHA) and which involved around 1.200 participants from various countries.

The Secretary of State for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, emphasised that the Harvard-Portugal Program “will undoubtedly contribute to modernising and improving the quality of the teaching of Medicine in the country, an intention which is nowadays considered a priority, within the framework of best international practices”.

Manuel Heitor also mentioned that this action should be accompanied by "widening cooperation between Schools and Faculties of Medicine, Associated Laboratories and R&D Institutions working in the field of Biomedical and Health Sciences, so that Portugal can increasingly position itself at a truly competitive level on an international scale”.

The research projects and their transfer will take the work carried out in Portuguese laboratories to new levels of sophistication and in this way contribute to Portugal becoming an increasingly more respected presence within the international scientific community.

Activities relating to medical content will be carried out in Portugal by Portuguese academics. HMS will ensure that training sessions take place and that medical content is made available through its publications division (Harvard Health Publications (HHP)), which has 33 years of experience behind it concerning the creation and publication of medical information for the public at large.

“In recent years, it can be seen that most of the population has shown a growing interest in topics linked to medicine and appreciate the possibility of feeling involved in the taking of decisions to do with their own health”, commented Anthony L. Komaroff, editor of HHP and Professor of Medicine at Harvard.

“In fact, out of all the academic institutions which teach Medicine, HMS has been the leader in the sector producing and publishing high quality medical information aimed at the general public. It will be a challenge and an honour to now count on our colleagues in Portugal to carry us forward in this effort”, he added.

There will be workshops, seminars and other meetings resulting from this Program, as one way of establishing a sense of community and helping to establish a network of opportunities, and contribute to the envisaged training through formal instruction and providing opportunities for public exposition and presentations by all participants. These practices will gradually lead to the establishing of a solid and interconnected Portuguese community of clinical researchers.

“We are waiting expectantly for the moment to begin working closely with our Portuguese colleagues”, mentioned David E. Golan, Director for Advanced Training at HMS. “And we foresee this Program functioning as a model in terms of the involvement of HMS and its students in future international cooperation projects dedicated to teaching and research”.

“I am certain that the Harvard-Portugal Program will provide us with many years of working together in a concerted manner on scientific research, and teaching and training related to Medicine”, emphasised Tomas Kirchhausen, Professor of Cellular Biology and designated Director of the Harvard-Portugal Program at Harvard.

Last updated ( 28/09/2011 )