Latin American Posgraduate Program in Biophysics
This program was designed by a group of Latin American biophysicist in 2006 and approved by the International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics. Today this program is being re-designed by LAFEBS.
To provide the students with the possibility to complete their post-graduate studies in Biophysics within their country of origin, or within the region. This training, which should be of the highest academic level possible, will teach the future scientists how to do good science with the available facilities.
The lack of specialized postgraduate programs in the developing Countries is one of the elements that go against the quality of higher education and their progress in the growth of available human resources in science and technology, with the consequent deterioration in basic education. This has been one of the main concerns of IUPAB’s Task Force on Capacity Building. In 2006 Prof. J. Raúl Grigera (then convenor of this Task Force) organized a workshop at the Institute of Physics of Liquids and Biological Systems (IFLySIB), La Plata, Argentina, to discuss this problem and elaborate a proposal for a Latin American Program to be presented to IUPAB Council for its approval.
Prof Grigera invited to this workshop Prof. Silvia Alonso (Universidad Nacional de Quilmes - Argentina), Marcio F. Colombo (Universidade Estatual Paulista - Brasil), Ramon Fayad (Universidad del Rosario - Colombia), Ana María Gennaro (Universidad Nacional del Litoral – Argentina), F. Luis González Flecha (Universidad de Buenos Aires - Argentina), Bruno Maggio (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba - Argentina), Eduardo Mizraji (Universidad de la República - Uruguay), Marcelo M. Morales (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro – Brazil), Kleber C. Mundim (Universidade de Brasília – Brazil), David Naranjo (Universidad de Valparaíso - Chile), José R. Sotelo (Instituto de Investigaciones Biológicas Clemente Estable - Uruguay), Mario Estrada (Universidad Nacional de San Luis - Argentina), Ricardo Migoni (Universidad Nacional de Rosario - Argentina), Diego Valladares (Universidad Nacional de San Luis - Argentina), German Roth (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba - Argentina), and José Antonio Ramírez (Universidad Nacional de San Luis - Argentina).
During this workshop, it was acknowledged that Latin America comprises Countries with comparable capacities in Biophysics. However, no individual Country alone could adequately meet all the requirements for postgraduate education in Biophysics. Besides, by integrating less developed Countries in the region, there is an opportunity to offer assistance and substantial support, fostering the enhancement of their capabilities.
The basic strategy of the Program –that has been the basic idea from the beginning of the Task Force– is first of all to use the closest available resources (Grigera 2006). This requires a careful survey of such resources in each of the participating Countries, and even in each of the internal regions (States, Provinces, Departments). In this way the Program would provide students with the possibility to complete their post-graduate studies within their Country of origin, or at least, within the region in which facilities and difficulties are comparable to those in their Country. This training, which should be of the highest possible academic level, would teach the future scientists how to perform good science with the available resources. The access to post-graduate studies in Biophysics should be possible for graduates of Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, or any other area, provided they have a good basic formation on at least one of the mentioned disciplines. Since not all applicants have the same background, it would be necessary to establish courses that allow them to reach the same level, so that at the beginning of their post-graduate studies all would have an equivalent level of formation. It is highly likely that these knowledge leveling courses can be conducted either at the Universities of origin, or nowadays, utilizing the virtual platforms that have become available due to the COVID pandemic. The courses should be defined for each particular case by a Special Committee, which should analyze the applicant’s previous background and propose the content of the necessary courses. All academic plans should take into account the human resources available in the Region, trying always to supply the needs with the Institutions of excellence closest (geographically or economically) to the applicant’s place of origin. Once the candidate is accepted into the Program, he/she would be assigned a particular plan of courses, seminaries and experimental work by a Special Committee – which may or may not be the same that has fixed the knowledge leveling course. This would be done in accordance with the candidate’s interests and the available facilities, but under the unyielding condition of keeping an academic level appropriate to the post-graduate studies pursued -Masters or PhD- (Grigera 2006).
The First POSLATAM course was held in La Plata, Argentina in 2008 with the assistance of 56 students from Argentina and Brazil. It was followed by courses in Buzios, Rio de Janeiro and Campinas (Brazil), Buenos Aires and Tucumán (Argentina), Salto (Uruguay), Lima (Peru) and Varadero (Cuba).
Since its creation in 2006 the POSLATAM Program has served as a significant catalyst for the advancement of Latin American Biophysics. Furthermore, it sought to establish a network that facilitates the academic mobility of postgraduate students and professors between participating institutions, and allowed to enhance access to leading centers of excellence in Biophysics across Latin America.
Leveling courses allowing the students to reach an equivalent level of formation in Biochemistry Chemistry and Physics
General Biophysics Courses: giving a panoramic view of Biophysics with emphasis in the work performed by Latin American Groups.
Advanced Practical Courses: providing training in new biophysical techniques and promoting the transfer of methodologies between laboratories. They are organized by leading scientists in their fields.