EPFL Strengthens Collaboration with Brazil's Scientific Community

The Federal Councilor Didier Burkhalter and EPFL President Patrick Aebischer participated Monday, the 30th of August, in an official ceremony in Brazil including the Brazilian Minister of Education, Dr. Fernando Haddad and several other important members of the Brazilian scientific community. The ceremony symbolically marked an important step in the ongoing collaboration between EPFL and the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal (ELS-IINN) in Brasil, where EPFL Professor Miguel Nicolelis heads one of the most state-of-the-art neuroscience research institutes in the southern hemisphere.

EPFL’s collaboration with the Safra institute in Natal is a direct consequence of the Brazilian Swiss Joint Research Program signed in September of 2009. These research programs include neuroscience, health, energy, and environment. As part of this agreement, EPFL is donating its precedent Blue Gene L the institute. Miguel Nicolelis, also a neurobiology professor at Duke University, believes that “the donation of the Blue Gene supercomputer from the EPFL and the Swiss government to the ELS-IINN is a historic event, since this unique computational resource will allow the ELS-IINN to further develop its scientific mission.” The supercomputer will be an essential element to what is called the “Campus of the Brain,” as well as a research industrial park devoted to new therapies, cures, and brain-actuating technologies.

The Blue Gene L, replaced by the new Blue Gene P in 2009 in Lausanne, will be brought up to par with 2010 supercomputer standards by the ELS-IINN and used in joint research project with EPFL. The project, funded by the Swiss and Brazilian governments, hopes to find a new potential therapy for treating Parkinson's disease – but also represents a new model for international collaboration.

Author: Didier Bonvin

Source: EPFL