“It has been a great privilege to serve in this position” Versão em português

“It has been a great privilege to serve in this position” Carlos Henrique Brito Cruz steps down as Scientific Director of FAPESP, stressing in a letter the progress of research in the state of São Paulo (photo: Léo Ramos Chaves / Pesquisa FAPESP)

Dear friends at FAPESP and colleagues in the São Paulo research community

Today is my last day as Scientific Director of FAPESP. I served in the post for 15 years (plus six as President and two as a board member). Five three-year terms, five three-name lists, five times appointed by the state governor.

It has been a great privilege to serve in this position. I hope I have contributed to the scientific and technological development of the state of São Paulo. I believe research in São Paulo has achieved significant progress, and I am sure it will do so even more. The science and technology base built in São Paulo and Brazil over many decades has had visible effects. It is no longer necessary to argue that S&T will be important to Brazil. The capacity to create good science and good technology is essential to improve the quality of life for Brazilians, thanks to their advances in the intellectual field – assuring a role for Brazilian researchers in the discussion of new ideas in all knowledge areas – and to their impact on the economy and society.

The results have been myriad. My eagerness to point them out has always been so great that I have certainly exasperated many audiences and many of you in the presentations I have delivered, boring you with an endless parade of good things created by scientists in Brazil. My view of the job is that the role of the Scientific Director is to count, recount and demonstrate the achievements of our researchers over and over in the hope that colleagues will tell others and that this will help society in São Paulo and Brazil see ever more clearly the value of the investment it makes in science and technology.

São Paulo’s S&T capabilities are impressive, even if they always need to be extended. They include producing food and lowering its cost, producing knowledge to treat disease, developing vaccines, and producing energy from renewable sources. Both science and technology contribute to the vibrancy of the state’s economy. They also include the study of elementary particles, atoms and molecules, of the origin of the universe, the literature of Monteiro Lobato, Guimarães Rosa and Shakespeare, classical Greek philosophy, paraconsistent logic, the political science of inequality and ways of reducing it, tax reform, societal organization, and countless other topics.

All these topics and more are part of the list that has lit up my life and given me joy in the past 15 years. My concerns also had a great deal to do with the ways of conducting research: research in universities, directed mission-oriented research, research in small, medium and large companies. Joining up these “islands” is always a challenge. I believe they are more connected now than they were some years ago, and I expect them to be even more joined up in as many years again. And science in São Paulo is more connected to the world than it has ever been. This is an achievement for which I fought hard.

We live in surprising times. The COVID-19 pandemic has reawakened worldwide respect and hope for what good science can create for society. Even so we must be aware of the limits to that capacity. As I put it in a recent interview, “With science we will suffer less. And it should be borne in mind that science does not do magic.”

FAPESP’s role, which has always been important, has been shown to be increasingly relevant to society in São Paulo, and this relevance has been widely recognized by the media (for example,,o-exemplo-da-fapesp,70003213012). This role is possible thanks to a constitutional provision that guarantees stable and predictable funding for the Foundation, as well as autonomy to operate with criteria and selectivity that valorize good research. Beyond the existence of the constitutional provision, it is important to recognize and laud the support successive state governments in São Paulo have given FAPESP precisely to the extent called for by the state’s constitution.

Again, it has been a privilege to serve as Scientific Director. My thanks to the research community in São Paulo for giving me this opportunity. I also want to offer a special word of gratitude to my colleagues at FAPESP: the dedicated, hard-working staff, my fellow-executives, and the members of the Board of Trustees.

Even more specially, I must thank the members of FAPESP’s Area Panels and Steering Committees for Special Programs. Lastly and with great affection, admiration and recognition, my thanks to the members of the Adjunct Panel, with whom I worked so closely (I am already missing the meals at Deola or Brascata, particularly feijoada). The panels and committees form a spectacularly dedicated team who love science, have vast expertise and possess a vast amount of knowledge about research in São Paulo, Brazil and the world. They are of unparalleled value to the discussion, understanding and proposing of policies to develop science and technology in the state of São Paulo, which is FAPESP’s remit according to the state constitution.

Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz

April 25, 2020

Page updated on 05/05/2020 - Published on 05/05/2020