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Home  > Knowledge Networks  > News  > Launching of the Harvard Medical School – Portugal Program

Launching of the Harvard Medical School – Portugal Program

 - 21/05/2009

Harvard Medical School logo The cooperation Program between the Portuguese State and the University of Harvard, through the Harvard Medical School (HMS), Harvard Medical School – Portugal Program, was launched on 21 May 2009, at the Pavilion of Knowledge (Pavilhão do Conhecimento), in Lisbon, at a ceremony which was attended by the Portuguese Prime Minister, José Sócrates, and the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, José Mariano Gago, the Minister of Health, Ana Jorge, the Secretary of State for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, and the Assistant Secretary of State for Health, Francisco Ramos.

Also attending the ceremony were the Presidents of the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) and of Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities with medical degrees, the Deans of all the Faculties of Medicine in Portugal and the Directors of Associated Laboratories in this area, who jointly signed the terms of their corresponding participation in the Program, along with the Deans of the Harvard Medical School (HMS), David Golan and Rick Mills, and the Co-Directors of the Program at Harvard, Tom Kirchhausen and Anthony Komaroff.

The agreement regarding this cooperation Program had been officially announced a little more than a month previously by the Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal and the Harvard Medical School (HMS), in a high level meeting in Boston, USA, on 27 April 2009 (see Portugal and Harvard Medical School Announce Joint Program).

The protocol which has now been signed, prepared for throughout the last two years by all the Portuguese Faculties of Medicine and Associated Laboratories in this area in partnership with the University of Harvard, has the aim of nurturing clinical research and its transfer towards having an impact on medical education and specialised medical practice, as well as modernising and improving the quality of medical education with regard to best international practices, and promoting the dissemination of medical content and the transfer of health knowledge and biomedical research to students of Medicine, health professionals and to the population as a whole.

The preparation of this latter component concerning the public provision of health information has largely been promoted in Portugal by Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC). UMIC has in the meanwhile gone ahead with preparing, launching and evaluating tenders for the technological platform necessary, namely for the Public Tender for the Health and Biomedical Research Platform and the Public Tender for the Health and Biomedical Research Platform (hardware) . The project received a high profile at the 16th European Public Health Conference which took place in Lisbon in November 2008 on the theme Health and Innovation within the European Space and, as it was the annual meeting of the European Public Health Association (EUPHA) which brought together around 1,200 participants from many countries, it constituted a special opportunity to internationally project this innovative Program. In fact, the 1st Plenary Session, on the theme of “Innovation, Knowledge and Citizens - Science promoting health and preventing disease, and the Citizen” was opened with an invited speech from the President of Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) on the Transfer of Scientific Knowledge to health care professionals and to citizens which described the main aspects of the project.

The strategic cooperation of the Harvard Medical School – Portugal Program was planned for in great detail during the previous two years (see also Harvard Medical School Presents Assessment of Cooperation Opportunities with Portugal, Assessment Workshop Harvard Medical School – Portugal, Launching of the Assessment Phase of Cooperation Opportunities Harvard Medical School – Portugal Program), involves a total budget of around 42 million Euros for the next 6 years, and includes the following areas of action (see the Technical Annex to the protocol which has been signed):

  • 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, with the aim of supporting projects of an innovative nature, aimed at the area of human pathology. Part of this will include an annual tender to select 12 new clinical research projects and their transfer within the next 5 years.
  • There will be a Program of Postgraduate courses in Medicine, including “Junior” and “Senior” scholarships for Clinical Research to stimulate the development of a research career for doctors. Part of this will include an annual tender to select around 14 doctors for this Program within the next 5 years.
  • A Program to stimulate the production and publication of medical information for the general public, and distribute educational material through Medical students and health sector professionals. Part of this will include an annual tender to select 15 new projects to produce and publish medical information within the next 5 years.

Following best international practices in scientific and technological cooperation, the Program with the Harvard Medical School (HMS) was designed in accord with activity plans extending over several years and competitive financing, and subject to external assessments, which will be independent, regular and held annually.
The Harvard Medical School (HMS), of the University of Harvard, is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious medical schools and has developed competencies and a scale of operation without parallel at a worldwide level, for the development of clinical research and its transfer as well as the setting up and provision of medical content through its publication division (Harvard Health Publications (HHP)), which has more than 30 years of experience and an international reputation for the production and dissemination of medical information to students, medical professionals and the general public.

The Harvard Medical School – Portugal Program was formally established under the scope of the Partnerships for the Future initiative which forms part of the Commitment to Science for Portugal’s Future, which institutionalises a national network seeking to modernise the teaching of Medicine, the improvement of specialised training in Medical Sciences, the production/distribution of new pedagogic material, and stimulating clinical research and its transfer.

Under the terms outlined in the Program of the 17th Portuguese Constitutional Government and its Commitment to Science for Portugal’s Future, the Government’s strategy to promote national scientific and academic capacity has involved a Program of international partnerships to stimulate the development and promotion of thematic networks in science and technology possessing an international scope and relevance. This will facilitate comparative advantages for Portugal within the European Space and provide international projection for national scientific institutions and their scientific and technological cooperation with institutions of renowned merit, including, besides the University of Harvard, the MIT – Portugal Program, the Carnegie Mellon – Portugal Program, the U Texas Austin – Portugal Program, and the Fraunhofer – Portugal Program, within the scope of which was created the Fraunhofer Portugal Association and AICOS - Fraunhofer Portugal Research Center for Assistive Information and Communication Solutions, planned as being the first Fraunhofer Institute outside Germany.

In addition to the teaching of medicine, here considered along with the Harvard Medical School (HMS), the ProgramPartnerships for the Future has in particular been promoting themes of scientific and technological relevance for Portugal, namely themes linked to major public and private investments, such as engineering systems, including bioengineering, energy, transportation and advanced production systems, information and communication technologies, interactive digital content, and management, as well as ways of economically valorising science and technology and the development of new technologically-based companies.

Last updated ( 28/09/2011 )