Gulbenkian Science, Solving Tomorrow's Challenges Today




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Towards quality of life and world sustainability
Scientific discoveries play a critical role in improving our quality of life and ensuring sustainable development. 2020 brought major visibility to the importance of science in predicting and solving the key challenges humanity and our planet face, such as pandemics. Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (FCG, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation) is a private, non-profit, charitable foundation aiming, since 1956, to build a sustainable society based on equal opportunities.

The FCG is an agent for change, developing knowledge and testing solutions for the critical problems facing mankind. The foundation hosts numerous complementary initiatives including the Gulbenkian Orchestra, Gulbenkian Museums, Partnerships for Development and the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC).

The IGC was founded as a multidisciplinary research centre in 1961, with the visionary mission of giving the greatest freedom to the creative power of individuals focusing on curiosity-driven science. Since 1993 IGC also runs innovative PhD programs and training activities, directed towards intellectual breadth, creativity and independent scientific thought. More than 600 students were already trained, creating a unique Alumni network of international scientific leaders.

A world leading Institution in the life sciences
The IGC of today is a world leading research institution where individuals pursue the most original discovery driven scientific questions in the life sciences in an interdisciplinary, international and collaborative environment, fostering open discovery and innovation towards the benefit of mankind, aligned with Gulbenkian Foundation vision. Strong curiosity driven Institutions are essential as a nucleation point for broader and more applied endeavors, including attracting companies. In fact, more than 80% of medical drugs were identified through curiosity-driven research (e.g. hypertension, cancer, cholesterol). Presently IGC has around 400 people, from 44 different nationalities, working in 28 research groups, 10 technological facilities and 13 services. IGC has been evaluated with the maximum mark in the last two international evaluations of all Portuguese research units (2014 and 2018).

From ageing to infection
IGC-research programs cover a wide range of domains and are at the interface of different disciplines, unraveling how the organism and its changing environment interact. IGC faculty has led pioneering studies including understanding how our organs communicate, shown to be essential to unravel ageing and obesity; understanding how our body and its microbes interact, providing new avenues to counteract viral diseases such as dengue, and antimicrobial resistance. Our work on physiology and inflammation evidenced a central role for metabolic adaptation to sepsis and identified a candidate drug that induces disease tolerance to sepsis and septic shock, setting the stage for a Phase I clinical trial.

Democratising science
Besides excellence in research, IGC strategy focuses on three other pillars: internationalization, by hosting conditions to attract the best researchers, workshops and meetings through a collaborative center; innovation and tech transfer activities focused on the identification, protection and adequate exploration of ideas with added value that can dynamize relations with the regional, national and international industrial and business actors; and societal impact, obtained through investment in open science, innovation, policy making, education and outreach.

The interdisciplinary science of IGC, its strength in areas such as virology, immunology, evolution and genomics was mobilized during the COVID19 pandemics. Several new partnerships with hospitals, industry and local government, and new products were created. The IGC has become a role model when it comes to promote the dialogue between science and society and to promote science in low and middle-income countries. This mission unites the IGC and the Oeiras City Council (CMO) and this led them, together with ITQB NOVA, to develop a science education, a citizen science program and many public engagement activities. Science is critical for our common future.

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