Breast-Feeding Boosts Chances Of Success, Study In Brazil Finds

Rob Stein – NPR, 3/17/2015

Babies who are breast-fed may be more likely to be successful in life, a provocative study published Tuesday suggests.

The study followed more than 3,000 babies into adulthood in Brazil. The researchers found those who were breast-fed scored slightly higher in intelligence tests in their 30s, stayed in school longer and earned more money than those who were given formula.

“Breast-feeding not only has short-term benefits, but also breast-feeding has long-term benefits,” says Bernardo Lessa Horta of the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, who led the study being published in The Lancet Global Health.

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FAPESP Countdown: “The many faces of the sertão”

The Brazil Institute is counting down to this year’s FAPESP Week (November 17-21), organized in collaboration with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. The symposium aims at strengthening the links between scientists from Brazil and the U.S. with the objective of promoting research partnerships. Find out more about the 2014 FAPESP Week in California here

Rodrigo de Oliveiro Andrade – Pesquisa FAPESP, 2014 Print Edition, Published in July 2013


During an 1818 Austrian expedition to Brazil—a scientific investigation that brought over researchers and artists to study and depict species and landscapes characteristic of Brazilian biodiversity—two naturalists, Carl Friedrich von Martius and Johann Baptiste von Spix, were struck by the diversity of vegetation in a forest that was theoretically rare for the region around the banks of the São Francisco River in what is now the municipality of Januária, in Minas Gerais State. Their fascination was largely justified by the fact that the vegetation was in an area that was part of the Caatinga, an ecosystem identified by a predominantly semi-arid climate and scarce, highly variable water availability. The two German naturalists probably thought, like many others, that the Caatinga is a homogeneous environment, but that is not the case.

“The region has a wide variety of environmental conditions that are essential to the emergence and sustenance of a number of species well adapted to the regional climate,” said biologist Bráulio Almeida Santos of the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB), in a lecture he presented at the fifth BIOTA-FAPESP Education Conference Cycle, on June 20, 3013 in São Paulo.

The Caatinga, he explained, presently occupies 11% of Brazilian territory, an area approximately 845,000 square kilometers (km2) in size. It is divided into eight ecoregions—each having very distinct landscapes, soil types and vegetation—that can receive rainfall of less than 1,000 millimeters in a year’s time. “In some areas, a dry spell can last as long as 11 months,” he said. The region is currently experiencing its worst drought in 30 years, affecting the lives of 27 million people. In the state of Bahia alone, over 214 municipalities have declared a state of emergency this year.

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Article and photo courtesy of Revista Pesquisa FAPESP.

FAPESP Countdown: “Justice of Impunity”

The Brazil Institute is counting down to this year’s FAPESP Week (November 17-21), organized in collaboration with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. The symposium aims at strengthening the links between scientists from Brazil and the U.S. with the objective of promoting research partnerships. Find out more about the 2014 FAPESP Week in California here

Carlos Haag – Pesquisa FAPESP, 2014 Print Edition, Published in July 2013

A sentence from Cesare Beccaria’s 1764 classic On Crimes and Punishments is remarkably fitting today: “The certainty of a chastisement, even if it be moderate, will always make a greater impression than the fear of a more terrible punishment that is united with the hope of impunity.” Beccaria’s foresight captures current trends. “There’s a strong feeling in Brazil that irrespective of class, wealth, or power, crime has increased and grown more violent, but that there is impunity. At times like this, people think the solution is to have stiffer laws and longer prison terms,” says sociologist Sérgio Adorno, coordinator of the Center for the Study of Violence of the University of São Paulo (NEV-RIDC/USP), which is one of the 17 Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

“The feeling that impunity exists feeds distrust in the democratic institutions that are entrusted with enforcing law and order and with protecting civil rights, as provided for under the constitution, especially the right to safety,” says the researcher. But what are the true dimensions of this impunity? With this question in mind, NEV-RIDC conducted the research study Police investigations and the judicial process in São Paulo: the case of homicides, which is an outgrowth of the project Research on criminal impunity. The proposal was to analyze the flow of homicide cases from police report to sentencing. In addition to measuring criminal impunity, the study sought to identify the judicial and extrajudicial factors and the institutional mechanisms that favor the non-application of sentences for these crimes.

The basic numbers themselves reveal the magnitude of this impunity: only 60.13% of reported homicides were investigated. Consequently, no police investigations were on file for about 40% of the reports. While homicides rose 15.51%, the number of police investigations climbed just 7.48%. “This means the gap between the potential for more violence and the ability of the police force to investigate these crimes has widened, and this may find expression in people’s lack of confidence in the institutions entrusted with safeguarding the public order and enforcing law and order,” the sociologist points out.

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Article and photo courtesy of Revista Pesquisa FAPESP.

FAPESP Countdown: “Green Flight”

The Brazil Institute is counting down to this year’s FAPESP Week (November 17-21), organized in collaboration with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. The symposium aims at strengthening the links between scientists from Brazil and the U.S. with the objective of promoting research partnerships. Find out more about the 2014 FAPESP Week in California here

Marcos de Oliveira – Pesquisa FAPESP, 2014 Print Edition, Published in July 2013

The accounting has been done. By 2050 commercial aviation is expected to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 50%, compared to the amount emitted by aircraft engines in 2005. In order to accomplish this, institutions and companies in a number of countries are carrying out a great deal of research and development to produce a non-petroleum based kerosene from renewable sources, one that will release fewer harmful gases into the atmosphere. Biokerosene, as it is being called, is likely to once again make Brazil a major world reference center for the development and production of a biofuel, as it was with ethanol and biodiesel.

This trend is highlighted in the study “Flightpath to Aviation Biofuels in Brazil: Action Plan” presented in early June in São Paulo, and sponsored by two of the three largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, Boeing and Embraer, with FAPESP funding and coordinated by the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), Interdisciplinary Center for Energy Planning (NIPE). Also participating in the study, developed over the course of one year with the completion of 8 workshops, were 33 partners, including national and international companies, universities and research institutes.

The study presents several technological routes that begin with raw materials such as traditional sugarcane, algae, animal fats, vegetable oils, lignocellulosic material, starches and urban waste, and use different conversion and refining technologies to obtain biokerosene. At this stage, the study also concludes that there are still many significant gaps to be closed when it comes to technology and costs. Technical difficulties will require the participation of all those involved, aircraft manufacturers and aviation companies, developers and suppliers of fuel, in addition to the world’s certifying bodies. Another factor to be taken into consideration is the logistics of producing and distributing biofuels to 108 domestic airports where large aircraft operate, representing 1 million scheduled flights just in Brazilian airspace, and the need to service 62,000 international flights departing each year in Brazil, bound for 58 airports in 35 countries. These outgoing flights represent 60% of the kerosene consumed by aviation in Brazil.

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Article and photo courtesy of Revista Pesquisa FAPESP.

Public Service [PORTUGUESE]

Kenneth Maxwell – Folha de São Paulo, 10/16/2014

Kenneth Maxwell recognizes and thanks Professor David Fleischer and Leona Forman for their contributions to informing those who live outside of Brazil about this disputed election season. Professor David Fleischer published the online newsletter “Brazil Focus” that focuses on the elections, public opinion research, and politics (Fleischer@uol.com.br). Leona Forman is the founder and president of the Brazil Foundation, an organization dedicated to redirecting funds of individual and corporate supporters of Brazil into directed projects for humanitarian causes in Brazil (www.brazilfoundation.org).

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As graduate numbers fall, Brazil looks to raise quality

Donna Bowater – Times Higher Education, 09/25/2014

The number of students completing higher education in Brazil has fallen for the first time in a decade, figures show.

There was a 5.7 per cent drop in the number of graduates last year compared with 2012 – the first decline in the number of university leavers since 2003.

Some 991,000 students graduated in 2013, a drop of almost 60,000 on 2012, despite the number of students enrolled on courses across the country increasing to 7.3 million. Across the federal system (as distinct from state and for-profit private universities), the number of graduates increased by 3.8 per cent.

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Coursera launches in Brazil, becomes first online education provider to partner with its public universities

Emil Protalinski – TNW, 09/17/2014

Coursera today announced it is officially launching in Brazil. The company is teaming up with the University of Sao Paulo (USP) and State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), its first university partners in Latin America to offer Portuguese courses.

That’s not the only first. Coursera is the first open online education provider to partner with Brazil’s top universities. Furthermore, the move today also means it is offering its first native Portuguese courses for learners not just in Brazil, but across the globe.

The two universities will develop courses targeted at Brazilian learners in high-demand topics from entrepreneurship to finance, slated for early next year. Coursera has also struck a deal with R7, one of Brazil’s largest web portals, to increase awareness of these new educational opportunities by featuring its courses.

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