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Vol. LXIII, No. 10
May 13, 2011

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NIH Helps Stricken Chile, Haiti with Equipment Loans
Chilean delegation photo

A Chilean delegation met the equipment at the airport in Santiago.

Photo: Roberto Matus

Following months of hard work and diligent collaboration, 5 tons of scientific and laboratory equipment from NIH arrived recently in Chile to assist numerous university research laboratories and facilities severely damaged by the 8.8 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami of Feb. 27, 2010.

“We’re very pleased that the equipment has been delivered to the Chilean laboratories,” said Dr. Michael Gottesman, NIH deputy director for intramural research. “This is the result of months of hard work by many people and the effort will no doubt help reinvigorate the NIH’s historically robust collaborative research partnerships with scientists in Chile.”

The 84 items of equipment being loaned include computers, microscopes, micro-injectors, centrifuges and freezers. The NIH Office of Intramural Research and Chilean intramural researchers on campus surveyed research colleagues in Chile and compiled a list of needed equipment to replace what was damaged or destroyed during the earthquake.

Fogarty worked with the Embassy of Chile in Washington to coordinate the loan, which identified the Chilean National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT)— the NIH counterpart institution—to receive and distribute the used laboratory and scientific equipment. Designated for support are the University Catolica del Maule, University of Concepcion, University of Chile, University of Chile-INTA (Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology) and the University of Talca.

Completing the chain of cooperation, the 10,000 pounds of equipment was shipped to Chile without charge by FedEx in an arrangement coordinated between the delivery company and the Chilean Embassy in D.C.

Chilean delegation photo

The University of Concepcion is one of numerous Chilean university research laboratories and facilities receiving the equipment.

Photo: James Herrington

“This is an excellent example of a bilateral relationship built not only in big announcements, but also built over a matrix of collaborative and connective pathways,” said Chilean Ambassador Arturo Fermandois.

NIH has historically worked closely with CONICYT and has had several bilateral agreements in place to foster scientific exchange and collaboration. Dr. Pablo Moya, a Chilean postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health, worked closely with Fogarty and OIR on the loan project. “As Chilean researchers at NIH, we are happy to see this initiative reach safe dock,” said Moya. “This is an example of the importance for Chilean scientists abroad to keep networks with their country, to promote collaborative research as well as technology transfer.”

“The value of the equipment we received in support of Chilean universities goes far beyond the cost…and represents the true spirit of collaborative research and mutual understanding in the pursuit of knowledge,” said Maria Elena Boisier of CONICYT.

The equipment loan is anticipated to be permanent.

The equipment arrived in Santiago just days before the visit to Chile by President Barack Obama. The loan will help reestablish the ability of Chilean institutions to perform cutting-edge biomedical health research.

“In extraordinary circumstances, scientists have to pull together,” said Fogarty director Dr. Roger Glass.

In a similar effort, Haiti, which is also trying to recover from a severe earthquake last year, received an equipment loan through the efforts of Fogarty and the Clinical Center. Two SonoSite ultrasound machines arrived in Haiti recently to be loaned to long-time NIH grantee GHESKIO, with the shipping costs paid by the Clinical Center. “We can guarantee this equipment will be put to good use,” said Dr. Jean William Pape, director of GHESKIO.

The portable ultrasound machines will be used in Haiti for cholera patients in hypovolemic shock who need vascular catheterization due to fluid loss from severe diarrhea. NIHRecord Icon

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