BUENOS AIRES – Successful studies in the fields of transgenics and progress in the fight against cancer are some of the achievements of Argentina’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council (Conicet), which this month marks its 60th year as the country’s most important institution in its sector.
The close to 25,000 people who make up the council work under the premise that “science and technology are practically the only path to a developed, modern and inclusive country,” its president, Alejandro Ceccatto, told EFE.
For Conicet it’s important to tell its people that their work is not just to satisfy the curiosity of researchers, but to bring science to the public and speed up the country’s development, he said.
Ceccatto, who was deputy minister of science, technology and productive innovation between 2008-2015, noted that among the promising research supported by the council is the development of transgenic soy seeds resistant to hydric stress and the discovery of the galectin molecule, which plays a key role in spreading cancer.
“Conicet has a strong tradition for its origin in biomedicine, which is its strongest area, but all areas of scientific knowledge are fostered in the institution,” said Ceccatto, who has a doctorate in physics.
Specifically, the institution has 260 centers currently working in biological, engineering and social sciences, and in exact mathematical sciences.
The study of a strain of beer of great commercial interest, while research in astronomy and the chance to analyze one of the largest deposits on fossils in the world are some of the other areas of interest for the Conicet experts, who, in Ceccatto’s opinion, are the continuation of several generations of Argentine scientists.
“Throughout the last century there were multiple examples of the Argentina’s dedication to science. The mere fact of winning three Nobel Prizes in the hard sciences is unusual for a developing country like Argentina,” he said.
The council is rated as the best state scientific institution in Latin America, according to the 2017 SCImago ranking.
The head of Conicet hopes the future “will be just as promising as the last 60 years,” and that it remains optimistic about the increasing number of scientists, even when the university system gives no particular incentives to students studying scientific and technological courses.