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Harvard Medical School – Portugal

The Harvard Medical School – Portugal Program focuses on translational medical research, and on the production and open dissemination through the Internet of medical and biomedical research content in Portuguese, with validated quality and destined to medical students, healthcare practitioners and the general public.

This Program, whose preparatory work was formalized on the 16th of April 2007 with the signature of an agreement with the Harvard Medical School, has the main objective of promoting the internationalization and the cooperation between the Portuguese medical schools, and of these schools with the main national biomedical science laboratories and research centers.

The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) coordinates the planning and development of a national platform to distribute medical content via the Internet, implementing one of the objectives of the Connecting Portugal initiative.

In addition, it is planned to develop post-graduate training programs in biomedical and clinical research, involving networks between medical schools and the main Portuguese biomedical science laboratories and research centers.

The agreement includes an initial four-month phase for assessing cooperation opportunities by Harvard Medical School faculty, who will work in close collaboration with their Portuguese colleagues in identifying potential areas for cooperation.

This program consolidates the public investment in R&D in the health sciences, namely through the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) initiatives that are developing in collaboration with the Ministry of Health to stimulate clinical research in Portugal and to strengthen the Portuguese biomedical science institutions and laboratories.

The activities related to the launching for this phase of the Program, which ran from 16th to 19th of April 2007, included a session held on the 16th of April, at the Pavilhão do Conhecimento, in Lisbon, visits by the Harvard Medical School delegation to medical schools and associate laboratories working in the biomedical research in Lisbon (17th April), Coimbra and Porto (18th April), and Braga and Covilhã (19th April), with technical support of the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC).

The launching session of the initial phase of assessment of the cooperation opportunities with the Harvard Medical School included presentations and debates involving representatives of the Harvard Medical School representatives, the 5 Associate Laboratories of biomedical sciences, the 7 Portuguese medical schools, the Council of Rectors of the Portuguese Universities (CRUP), the Academy of Medicine, the Lisbon Medical Science Society, the Director of the “Ciência Viva” agency, the Presidents of the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC)  and the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT), and both the Minister and the Secretary of State of Science, Technology and Higher Education.

The agreement with the Harvard Medical School (see the Harvard Medical School – Portugal: Technical Annex to the Memorandum of Understanding) opens a new cycle of international science and technology and higher education partnerships, extending the scientific and technology areas covered by previous agreements and integrating Portugal in international networks, based on advanced training projects, sustainable schemes to stimulate de development of new knowledge and to harness new ideas in collaboration with enterprises and leading international research and education institutions.

The Harvard Medical School – Portugal Program was launched on May 21, 2009, at a ceremony in which the President of the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT), the President of the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), the Rectors of universities with medical schools, the Directors of all the Portuguese medical schools and the Directors of the Associate Laboratories in health sciences, as well as the Deans of Harvard Medical School (HMS), David Golan and Rick Mills, and the Co-Directors of the Program at Harvard, Tom Kirchhausen and Anthony Komaroff, signed the terms of their participations in the Program. The protocol signed was prepared over two years and aims at promoting clinical and translational research with an impact on medical education and on specialized medical practice, as well as at modernizing and improving the quality of medical education as compared to international best practice, promoting the dissemination of medical content and the transfer of knowledge on health and on biomedical research to medical students, health professionals and the general population.

The preparation of this last component on the development of public information on health for the general public has been assured in Portugal by the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC). In fact, UMIC assured the preparation, launching and evaluation of tenders for the necessary technological platform, including the Public Tender for the Health and Biomedical Research Information Platform and the Public Tender for Health and Biomedical Research Information Platform (hardware). The project received high visibility at the 16th European Conference on Public Health held in Lisbon in November 2008 under the theme “Health and Innovation in the European Area”. As the conference was the annual meeting of the European Association of Public Health (EUPHA) and was attended by 1,200 Participants from many countries, this was a very special opportunity for the international projection of this innovative project. In fact, the 1st plenary session, whose theme was "Innovation, Knowledge and the Citizens – Science health promotion and disease prevention, and the citizen" was opened with an invited address of the President of the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) on “Knowledge transfer from science to health practitioners and citizens”, describing the main aspects of the project.

The cooperation strategy of the Harvard Medical School – Portugal Program was thoroughly planned during the preceding two years (see also Harvard Medical School Presents the Assessment of Collaboration Opportunities with Portugal, Assessment Workshop Harvard Medical School – Portugal, Launching of the Harvard medical School – Portugal Program), considers a total budget of around 42 million Euros for the next 6 years, and includes the following lines of action (see the Technical Annex to the signed protocol):

  • A research program to strengthen capacity in clinical and translational research and clinical knowledge with an impact on specialists medical training and clinical practice, with the aim to support projects of innovative nature, geared to the area of human pathology. Within this context annual calls will be opened for the selection of about 12 new projects of clinical and translational research in the next 5 years.
  • A program of advanced postgraduate training in medicine, including "Junior" and "Senior" clinical research scholarships to stimulate the development of research careers of physicians. Within this context, there will be annual open calls for selecting about 14 medical doctors for this program in the next 5 years.
  • A program to stimulate the production and publication of medical information to the general public, and to distribute educational materials to medical students and health practitioners. Within this context, there will be annual open calls for the selection of about 15 new projects of production and publication of medical information in the next 5 years.

Following international best practices in scientific and technological cooperation, the program with Harvard Medical School was developed in accordance with pluriannual activity plans and competitive funding, subjected to annual external reviews.

Last updated ( 24/10/2011 )