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Health Sciences Network & UM-FIOCRUZ Collaboration

The Brazil Initiative supports research conducted by University of Michigan students and faculty on important topics such as environmental determinants of health in Brazilian society and the impacts of genomic and genetic technologies on Brazilian medicine and health. This work has been made possible by the UM-Fiocruz collaboration, a distinguished initiative between UM and Braziliaan faculty and students to focus on research on health and society. The group of U-M researchers involved in this collaboration is quite interdisciplinary, with affiliations in the Medical SchoolSchool of Public HealthSchool of Natural Resources and EnvironmentInstitute for Social Research, and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. This collaboration has generated significant reports, peer-reviewed articles, and original data sets to inform the global medical and health fields.

Historian Simone Kropf recently published this research article on an educational exchange agreement between the University of Michigan and the Instituto Brasil-Estados Unidos. It explores the pathways and networks of actors, interests, and practices that developed over the course of the program from 1938 to 1943, in the process exemplifying the complex dynamics that shaped the implementation of the Good Neighbor Policy and of inter-American cultural diplomacy during World War II. It is based on research she undertook at the Bentley Historical Library while a Brazil Initiative visiting scholar at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Michigan, and is available in both English and Portuguese.

Experimentation on human beings may at times seem essential for enhancing health and reducing the burdens of disease.  Yet all human experimentation raises ethical issues, and historical analysis of experiments on human beings raise both possibilities and pitfalls for the historical analysis. In this talk Professor Joeal Howell will briefly discuss the issues that arise from an attempt to understand the work of Ignaz Semmelweis on the value of handwashing in the setting of active labor in Vienna in the mid 19th century, J. Marion Sims in his work on surgically treating vesico-vaginal fistula in enslaved women without their consent (or anesthesia) in the pre-civil war US south, and Saul Krugman in his work differentiating hepatitis viruses by intentionally infecting children who were patients at the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island, New York, in the 1950s.

Historian Simone Kropf (Fiocruz) discusses the role of the University of Michigan and the Brazil-United States Institute (Instituto Brasil-Estados Unidos, Ibeu) in fostering educational and cultural exchanges between the two countries in the 1930s and 40s. Professor Kropf conducted much of the research for this project at the University of Michigan when she was a Brazil Initiative Visiting Researcher in 2017-2018. 

Click here or on the image to read the article (written in Portuguese) »

Dr. Turchi discusses her experience in addressing the Zika crisis and her ongoing work with the interdisciplinary Microcephaly Epidemics Research Group.

Learn more »

Watch the lecture below:

Race, Discrimination, and Health: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives: A conference co-organized by Fiocruz and the University of Michigan (August 12-14, 2015). Learn more»

History of Eugenics: Broadening Perspectives: As part of the UM-Fiocruz LACS/Brazil Initiative collaboration, LACS director, Alex Stern, co-taught this mini-course; organized by the Graduate Program in History of Science at the Casa de Oswaldo Cruz (COC/Fiocruz) in Rio de Janeiro (August 3-5, 2015). Read more»

University of Michigan-Brazil Milk Bank Collaborative: A team of U-M pediatric specialists are studying Brazil’s successful model for creating human milk banks in the US (December 2014). Read more»

Related News: Lisa Hammer, Assistant Professor of U-M Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, speaks with WKAR’s Melissa Benmark about what can be learned about breast milk banks from Brazil’s world-class model. Read more»

Bate Papo with FIOCRUZ: The Bate-Papo is a series of informal meetings of students, scholars, and invited guests to discuss issues of broad contemporary interest.

In November 2014, Simone Petraglia Kropf, professor in the postgraduate program in the History of Science and Health at Fiocruz; and Gilberto Hochman, researcher and professor of History of Science and Health at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are the guest speakers in a Bate Papo on Medicine in Brazil. Conversations are primarily in Portuguese.  

Simone Kropf: “A história da cardiologia no Brasil: medicina, debate nacional e relações Brasil-Estados Unidos”; Gilberto Hochman: “Saúde e doença como uma forma de entender a história do Brasil”

FIOCRUZ & U-M Training Course: History of Science and Medicine in Rio de Janeiro: In August 2014, the Brazil Initiative sponsored two short-term training courses in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Both courses were co-led by Fiocruz and U-M Professors. The first, was a one week course on the history of science and medicine in Brazil. The second, was a one week course on race, genetics, and health, an interdisciplinary study of epidemiology, history, and anthropology. This course was also casted as a webinar for long distance learning students.

Student Testimonial: “I had the opportunity to attend a week long course in the History of Medicine at FIOCRUZ thanks to the support from the Brazil Initiative. Putting History of Medicine topics in local context expanded their reach, and allowed for important comparative conversations. In addition to coursework, I had the opportunity to meet with many Brazilian faculty and students both in and out of the classroom, which allowed me to take full advantage of the incredible scholarship and research going on at FIOCRUZ. Learning about the circulation of scientific knowledge in the global south threw into relief my own research on scientific narratives in microbiology and health, helping me to better characterize their history and particularism. I came away from my time at FIOCRUZ with a fresh perspective on my research as well as with new friends and colleagues.  Thanks to the Brazil Initiative for making that possible.” – Kirsten Weis, M.D. Student, U-M Medical School & PHD Student, U-M Department of Anthropology