Yale forms new South American ties

Yale finalized two medical partnerships to treat genetic and infectious diseases in South America this month.

A team of Yale professors and administrators traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Sao Paulo, Brazil, over spring break, to raise awareness of Yale’s programs and research and to meet with local alumni and educators. University Secretary Linda Lorimer called the new partnerships “a bolder success” than a similar trip to Mexico a year ago.

“The question of the trip was, ‘What is Yale doing to extend advancements in research that could benefit all humankind?’ ” she said.

Robert White, a professor of diagnostic radiology, was part of a group that traveled to a conference in Buenos Aires to sign an agreement with the University of Buenos Aires that will create the first center in Latin America to treat Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia, a rare vascular disease.

The future director of the center, Eduardo Eyheremendy, currently a professor of radiology at the University of Buenos Aires, trained with White in New Haven, and the pair will collaborate to run the program from both cities.

White said his main goal was to provide affordable treatment of the rare, potentially fatal disease for people both with and without insurance. The center will be funded in part by a nonprofit started by Argentinian lawyers Horacio and Ana Maria Chiesa, who have had family members treated for HHT at Yale.

“White and his local partner have been working to raise money so people in Argentina with the disorder can be treated no matter what the resources are at the university,” Lorimer said.

White also said that the connection with the University of Buenos Aires could help Yalies looking to study abroad in the future. Lorimer will meet with White and Alfredo Buzzi, dean of the faculty of medicine at the University of Buenos Aires and Yale’s contact there, to discuss a long-term connection with the university.

“Yale University wants to set up a good place for Yale students to learn Spanish, and the University of Buenos Aires wants its students to learn English,” White said.

Meanwhile, pediatrics professor Michael Cappello went to Brazil to finalize a medical partnership between Yale and the University of Sao Paulo. In 2006, Cappello said he helped with the launch a similar initiative between Yale and the University of Ghana, in which students exchanged between both universities.

Last year, the University of Sao Paulo was added to the network, and students from that university came to Yale. This year, Cappello said, students from Yale will go to Sao Paulo. During this month’s trip, he talked with Yale alumni, as well as the President and Dean of International Affairs at the University of Sao Paulo, about the program.

In addition to his medical research, Cappello directs the World Fellows program, which invites a group of emerging international leaders to Yale every fall and was the main focus of his visit to Brazil. He met with representatives from various human rights NGOs, businesses, government agencies and universities to solicit nominations for the 2010 class of World Fellows, as the University will begin reviewing candidates soon.

Dean of the Art School Robert Storr led a group that visited several museums, libraries and other cultural organizations in San Paulo in order to make connections with officials and directors and raise awareness about Yale’s art program in Brazil. Lorimer said although much of the world recognizes Yale’s academic prominence, its leadership in the arts is often overlooked.

“We didn’t have in mind any particular outcomes,” said Ed Martenson, chair of the theater management program at the Yale School of Drama. “It was more in the way of making relationships and general raising awareness and it was successful in that respect.”

Lorimer said she met with the heads of prominent secondary schools in both countries about encouraging their top students to apply to Yale, and with Brazil’s Minister of Science and Technology about broadcasting the University’s graduate programs to doctoral candidates. She said in both cases she talked about the University’s financial aid programs, since many potential applicants from outside the United States might be deterred by the sticker price of a Yale education.

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