Building a Future On Science

Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel A. L. Nicolelis taps into the chatter of neural populations to drive robotic prosthetics. Now he hopes to tap the potential of his country's population by building them a network of science cities
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At the Campus of the Brain site in Macaíba, construction is continuing and a billboard announces, “Here begins the future of science in Brazil.”....[ More ]


Jatropha curcas , a tropical plant whose seeds can contain more than 40 percent oil, is a popular raw material for biodiesel manufacture in Asia. The IINN-ELS project includes plans for an adjacent biotech park, which will partially support the institute’s operation.....[ More ]


An auditorium on the Campus of the Brain site is named for pioneering Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos Dumont. The nonprofit association formed to run the IINN-ELS and similar institutes that Nicolelis hopes to create in Brazil, is also called the Alberto Santos Dumont Association for the Support of Research (AASDAP).....[ More ]


Brazil’s education minister Fernando Haddad ( left ) also visited the IINN-ELS in 2007. Here, he is receiving a tour of the facilities by Nicolelis.....[ More ]


Brazil’s president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ( center ) visited the IINN-ELS facilities in August 2007. When he met with the school faculty, they gave him a tee shirt designed by students.....[ More ]


A new research building on the Macaíba campus site has 25 laboratories and is equipped for work with primates, which Nicolelis uses in his work on robotic prosthetics.....[ More ]


Arts classes at IINN-ELS schools are intended to foster creativity.....[ More ]


Nicolelis emphasizes that the educational arm of his project is not intended to create a nation of scientists. “We are trying to create a generation of citizens capable of leading Brazil,” he explains.....[ More ]


Nicolelis believes that learning scientific methods and principles improves critical thinking skills in general.....[ More ]


Ongoing teacher training ensures that teaching methods are up to date. IINN-ELS school staffers are also working with the Ministry of Education to create a science curriculum for 354 new national technical high schools.....[ More ]


The IINN-ELS schools emphasize hands-on scientific inquiry in classes and provide high quality equipment.....[ More ]


A school in Natal with 600 middle-school-aged students is one of two established by the IINN-ELS. The second, in Macaíba, has 400 kids enrolled. In collaboration with local schools, the children attend classes in science and art twice a week at the institute sites.....[ More ]


A new IINN-ELS health clinic in the farming community of Macaíba, 20km from Natal, is located on a 100-hectare site where the main “Campus of the Brain” is being built. The clinic specializes in maternal and child health in an area of Brazil with infant mortality of 36.1 per 1,000 births — compared with a national average of 25.1 per 1,000.....[ More ]


Sidarta Ribeiro ( left ), scientific director of the institute, was a postdoctoral fellow in Nicolelis’ lab at Duke in 2003 when they had the idea to create a network of high-caliber research institutes in Brazil.....[ More ]


Hindiael Belchior, a graduate student at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, is one of a dozen Ph.D. candidates pursuing studies at the IINN. Research at the Natal laboratory facility includes studies of Parkinson’s disease-like states induced in rodents.....[ More ]


Natal’s illiteracy rate above age 15 is 21.5 percent, double the national average. Life expectancy is nearly 4 years less than in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city.....[ More ]


Natal is the capital of Rio Grande do Norte, an underdeveloped state in Brazil’s northeast that contributes less than one percent of Gross Domestic Product. Nicolelis believes that the institute’s transformative influence will be most visible in Natal, and that the region is where such change is most needed.....[ More ]


Nicolelis, 46, observing the activity of rodent brain cells as the animal goes about its normal activities. Nicolelis has pioneered techniques for eavesdropping on hundreds of individual neurons at once through implanted electrodes.....[ More ]


A laboratory and office building in Natal, Brazil, was the first facility opened in 2005 when Miguel Nicolelis ( right ) and his collaborators established the International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal.....[ More ]

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