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Vol. LVIII, No. 7
April 7, 2006
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NIH, Mexico Sign Letter of Intent on Research

On Mar. 8, the Mexico National Council on Science and Technology (CONACYT) and NIH signed a Letter of Intent to strengthen cooperation. The agreement comes after a visit by NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni to Mexico in November 2004.

 
NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni (l) and Dr. Gustavo Chapela Castañares complete the letter of intent.  

Signing the agreement for CONACYT was Dr. Gustavo Chapela Castaņares, newly installed as CONACYT director general. Chapela, whose background is in chemical engineering, is a leader in science and technology.

The letter calls on both agencies to work together to enhance clinical research training for United States and Mexican students; to allow mid-career scientists to work in Mexico or in the U.S. short-term; to support a new approach to bring Mexican postdocs to campus, then return home; and to identify areas of potential joint research.

The letter also calls on both partners to work closely with the NIH of Mexico (INSalud), which supports clinical training and research. Dr. Jaime Sepulveda, head of INSalud, will work with NIH and CONACYT in its implementation.

The previous NIH agreement with CONACYT expired in 2005. One of the central features of that agreement was the Pan American Fellows Program, which supported Mexican postdocs at NIH via a 50:50 co-funding arrangement. This new letter streamlines the process for postdocs and ensures their return home.

There are currently 23 Mexican researchers working in NIH intramural laboratories through the NIH Visiting Program — one exchange scientist, one professional services contractor, 17 visiting fellows, two volunteers and two visiting scientists.