The Gulbenkian Foundation plans to inject €600,000 into four health research projects to tackle cancer, malaria and HIV in Angola, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau
In a statement released on Monday, the Lisbon-based foundation Calouste Gulbenkian explained that the four projects – two in Angola and one in each of the other countries, were selected by an international jury, taking into account criteria such as relevance, originality, quality of the proposal presented and the expected impact on the development of personal skills of the applicant and the institution.
The projects were the winners of the Envolve Science PALOP programme, an initiative of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation aimed at supporting the development of scientific careers in health sciences of young researchers from PALOP (Portuguese-speaking Africa) countries, in the consolidation of their scientific careers in their home countries, strengthening scientific systems, the organisation adds.
According to the Gulbenkian website, the Envolve Science PALOP programme takes place in two stages: in the first, selected researchers attend eight-month internships at host institutions in Portugal; in the second they develop a research project in one of the PALOPs.
During the internships of the first phase, the researchers present their Health Research Project proposal that is evaluated by an international jury and the best proposals receive support for their development in a PALOP institution for a period of three years.
In Cape Verde, researcher Pamela Borges will develop a project started at the Portuguese Institute of Oncology in Porto, and which will be carried out at the Dr. Agostinho Neto Praia Central Hospital, on the clinical, phenotypic and genetic characterisation of breast cancer in Cape Verdean women, to help doctors find the most efficient therapy.
Researcher Cláudia Fançony, who was a trainee at the Life and Health Sciences Research Institute at Minho University, will develop a project at the National Institute of Health Research/Centre for Health Research in Angola to explore the opposing forces that two drugs exert on a single target of the malaria parasite.
Also in Angola, researcher Cruz Sebastião, who was at the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at the Universidade Nova de Lisbon, will explore the patterns of HIV transmission and dissemination, as well as understand the emergence of resistance mutations, the impact on antiretroviral treatment schemes and the cost related to treating patients with antiretroviral resistance in the country.
The other winning project will be implemented in the Bandim Health Project in Guinea-Bissau, and is led by Viriato M’bana, who did his internship at the Institute of Molecular Medicine. The researcher wants to understand how malaria leads to the appearance of cancer, namely Burkitt’s lymphoma, a common paediatric cancer in malaria-endemic areas.