December 7, 2005

Alberto Coustasse, MD, MBA, DrPH, research associate in the School of Public Health at UNT Health Science Center, was recently selected by Fundacion Chile and sponsored by the World Bank as one of 20 successful Chileans working in the United States and Canada in biotechnology, information services and food technology.

The group of 20 was chosen to create a network of Chileans outside of Chile who can create a network in North America called Chile Global. Members of Chile Global, which has now expanded to 60 members, will work to establish relationships and facilitate projects to address the â??brain drainâ? occurring in this South American country. A brain drain is when top researchers and scientists from a developing country leave that country for more lucrative work in developed countries. When that brain drain occurs, the developing country loses people who can help in the development process.

The World Bank has worked on a project called â??Mobilization of Diasporas for Knowledge Transferâ? in India, China and Israel to transform their brain drains into brain circulation. To that end, the Chilean government became involved with the World Bank in the project to help direct investment into the economy of Chile, with the goal of becoming a developed country by 2015.

Currently, Chile is reinvesting a percentage of its gross domestic product to research and development for technology transfer. According to Dr. Coustasse, the government would like to expand this area and focus on improving several aspects of the Chilean economy, which is where Dr. Coustasse comes in.

As part of Chile Global, Dr. Coustasse is working to find people, businesses or government entities who want to compete for federal projects from the government of Chile. The project areas of interest include biotechnology, health information systems, nutrition, environmental health, virology, biochemistry, agricultural products and aquaculture, just to name a few. The Chilean government will provide $6.6 million for grant projects in the next year. If the congress of Chile approves a royalty bill for the mining industry, the grant funding amount could expand to $140 million for technological innovation.

Knowledge of Spanish is not necessary to apply for a grant project or to work on a joint venture with different Chilean agencies. Dr. Coustasse will serve as a liaison between project applicants, Fundacion Chile and the Chilean government.

â??This is an exciting opportunity, and Iâ??m looking forward to helping make the connection between researchers and officials in Chile,â? Dr. Coustasse said.

For more information on grants from the Chilean government, contact Dr. Coustasse at 817-735-0150 or e-mail him at acoustas@hsc.unt.edu.


Contact: Kay Colley 817-735-2553, cell 817-980-5090, e-mail kacolley@hsc.unt.edu.

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