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Cablegate: Harvard Initiates Stem Cell Research Partnership

VZCZCXYZ0021
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2697/01 3401528
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061528Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6695
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 5636

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002697

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR STAS ANDREW REYNOLDS
FOR IHA/WHA KATHERINE BLISS
BRASILIA FOR ENV HUB JIMMY STORY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO PHUM PREL AR
SUBJECT: HARVARD INITIATES STEM CELL RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP
IN ARGENTINA

REF: BUENOS AIRES 2580

1. (U) This telegram is sensitive but unclassified, and not
for Internet distribution.

Summary
-------

2. (U) Harvard University and the GoA have begun an education
and research and development initiative in Argentina that
will initially focus on stem cell research. The program,
called PABSELA, has won the vocal and financial support of
the Minister of Education. The endeavor highlights the
continuing opportunities for U.S. science and technology
institutions to enhance the U.S.'s long-term intellectual
security through collaborative efforts with Argentine
partners. End Summary.

PABSELA Founded by Argentine Harvard Professors
--------------------------------------------- --

3. (U) The Program for the Advancement of Biomedical Science
Education in Latin American (PABSELA) is a creation of the
Harvard University Medical School's nonprofit international
assistance organization Harvard Medical International (HMI).
PABSELA was founded by two Harvard Medical School professors
from Argentina, and its primary mission is to provide short
(2-4 week) courses in biomedical topics that will be taught
by Harvard Medical School professors to graduate students and
researchers in Argentina. Harvard's vision is to formulate
lasting bonds between Harvard and Latin American scientists,
schools and research facilities, assuring Harvard's continued
competitiveness in talent and research, while promoting
advanced medical science in the developing world.

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GoA and the Private Sector Footing the Bill
-------------------------------------------

4. (U) PABSELA is funded by a nonprofit called the "Crimson
Foundation," created in Argentina specifically to assist
PABSELA. The foundation's mission is to raise funds to pay
for the travel of visiting professors, related administrative
costs, and the purchase and donation of high-tech research
equipment to participants. Harvard will continue to pay the
salary and benefits of its professors who travel to Argentina
to participate in the program. The foundation's local donors
include Banco Rio, small and medium sized local
pharmaceutical producers, Continental Airlines, and United
Airlines. It has also received significant funding from the
Ministry of Education. The Crimson Foundation's first year
operating budget is in excess of USD 500,000.

The Minister's Blessing
-----------------------

5. (U) Argentine Minister of Education Filmus has strongly
embraced the idea, granting the Crimson Foundation USD
300,000 over the first three years of the program. The
Ministry of Education indirectly funds and manages the
majority of graduate and post-graduate education and
research, making it one of the most important R&D policy
players in the country.


An Early Focus on Stem Cells
----------------------------

6. (U) Courses on a broad range of stem cell research topics
are scheduled to begin in April 2007. Harvard has selected
30 stem cell researchers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and
Venezuela to attend hands-on training courses taught by
Harvard at the quasi-governmental facility (similar to the
NIH) Fundacion Instituto Leloir. The courses are free and
the specific course matter is to be selected by the
participants (not Harvard), based on their research
interests. In some cases, PABSELA will also provide
equipment to the participant's lab or facility. Harvard
intends to select as students researchers willing to remain
connected to Harvard in some capacity.

Comment
-------

7. (SBU) PABSELA Co-Director and former Harvard biologist
Estanislao Bachrach told EmbOff that Minister of Education
Filmus had expressed his frustration with the
inefficiency of the Argentine education system and welcomed
PABSELA as a way to keep Argentine researchers in Argentina

by working outside the existing bureaucracy. Bachrach also
said he had received promises of significant future funding
from major international pharmaceutical companies in
Argentina, if Harvard is able to engender a local stem cell
research community of "critical mass."

8. (SBU) Filmus's statements suggest a continued enthusiasm
on the part of major Argentine S&T players to support
innovative ways of developing and maintaining collaborative
R&D environments. Filmus displayed a great deal of interest
in Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State
Dr. George Atkinson's proposed Global Science Partnerships
program (reftel). Filmus's support for PABSELA indicates
that similar collaborative initiatives (public or private)
that could serve to enhance long-term U.S. intellectual
security will likely find fertile ground in Argentina.
MATERA

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