The Johannesburg World Summit 2002, which has just concluded, may have been a disappointment to many, but one thing is certain, science has an important role to play in tackling many of the problems that face developing countries.
"Let us face the uncomfortable truth," the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "the model of development we are accustomed to has been fruitful for the few, but flawed for the many.? Urging implementation of a sustainable development agenda, Annan said that action starts with governments, and that the richest countries must lead the way.
In particular, these countries? commitments to take action to promote a healthy environment and reduce the incidence of disease, to increase agricultural productivity, and to protect the world's biodiversity and ecosystems will not only need considerable changes in political and economic practices to gain credibility; the commitments made also demand a substantial effort from scientists of all fields and all nations in order to tackle the problems jointly and for the benefit of all.
Next Wave's September feature looks at the career opportunities for scientists committed to tackling those problems, by working in, and collaborating with scientists from, developing countries. Throughout the month of September you can read firsthand stories from scientists that have worked in developing countries all around the globe. Our feature articles introduce hot research projects, explain the practicalities of working in the developing world, and show how these choices can affect your career path.
And we look at the science policy background, with guest editorials from the director of the United Nations Development Programme, Mrs. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr (this week), and Professor Atta ur Rahman, UNESCO science laureate and science minister of Pakistan (next week).
Global co-operation is the key to making a difference. Our feature contributors are working in every corner of the planet in fields as diverse as ecology, biomedicine, agriculture, health, and technology transfer. Enjoy reading ?Science in and for Developing Countries,? and feel inspired to think about the ways in which you might establish similarly prolific collaborations for the benefit of your research--and for humankind.
S. Fukuda-Parr, director of the United Nations Development Programme, tells us about the benefits and risks of technology transfer and scientific collaboration with developing countries.
Next Wave?s UK editor, Elisabeth Pain, explores a new partnership involving Imperial College, the World Health Organization, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that is setting out to bring treatment to the countries that need it the most. To flexible and interested scientists, the initiative represents an excellent opportunity to bring humanitarianism into their work.
Never think you?re pigeonholed by what you studied at the undergrad or even graduate level, writes Nadine Robitaille in a profile of IDRC intern, Shilpa Tawari.
Singapore-based freelancer writer Linda Lim interviews scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who share their experiences working toward the elimination of trachoma in the Third World.
To give back to their countries some of the expertise they were able to obtain as scientists working in the "North," Josefina Coloma and Eva Harris founded the Sustainable Sciences Institute, which specializes in technology transfer to Latin American countries.
Next Wave Canada editor Lesley McKarney portraits "FeLaSoFi," the Federation of Latin American Physical Societies, and reports on the efforts of organizations across the Americas that have teamed up to strengthen physics research and education in Latin American countries.
Ashton Applewhite, contributing editor of the IEEE Spectrum magazine, profiles Swedish engineer Sten Bergman, who, as a representative to the World Bank?s Africa Rural and Renewable Energy Initiative, is bringing electricity to remote African villages.
Fourteen years ago, Stuart Shapiro took a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship in Nairobi, Kenya, working on tropical disease parasites. He hasn?t looked back since.
Johannes Refisch, a biologist from Germany, reports on a challenging engagement in Africa that called for knowledge of social geography, communications, and intercultural affairs--in addition to his specialist scientific knowledge.
As Nadine Robitaille discovered when she interviewed him, South African-born engineer Wardie Leppan initially saw his professional training as a ticket out of Africa, but once he settled in Canada he retooled and now applies his skills to facilitating research in developing countries--when he's not racing cars, that is.
For medical doctors, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides an opportunity to spend time in developing countries and work intensively and directly with patients. Next Wave Germany editor Eick von Ruschkowski talked with Dr. Thomas Finkbeiner from Tübingen, who has been in Africa with MSF.
Keri Page explains how the Wellcome Trust is presenting scientists in Australia and New Zealand with a veritable cocktail of travel and training opportunities, along with the chance to improve health in South Asia and the Pacific Islands.
Science in India is a mixed bag, says Kamala Tirumalai. The research environment is very supportive, but layers of bureaucracy stymie the research enterprise. And many scientists who do postdocs outside of the country find it difficult to navigate the system when they return. A new Fogarty grant program is intended to help by unlocking some of the doors.
Canadian sociologist Brenda Cranney, who was interviewed by Marianne Wightman and Nadine Robitaille, encountered many initial hurdles in her research in India. But in the long run, she found that the rewards of work in development were immeasurable
Vibha Dhawan, Director of India's TERI-istitute at New Delhi, describes how high-tech approaches and technologies can help developing countries tackle issues like the supply of food, vitamins, and energy, as well as deforestation and environment-friendly agriculture.
Promoting the public understanding of scientific advances in crop biotechnology, you can witness science and technology making a difference in the lives of people, says Margarita Escaler, whose work with the ISAAA is aimed at ensuring the consistent availability of sufficient quantities of food, feed, and fiber for people and animals in developing nations.
Atta-ur-Rahman, UNESCO Science Laureate and Federal Minister for Science and Technology in Pakistan, reflects on the prerequisites for ?Development? in developing countries and describes the impressive changes for the scientific community in a country that boosted its science and technology budget by 6000%.
The Fogarty Award
Earlier this year, GrantsNet editor Katie Cottingham took a close look at grants and fellowships available through the U.S. National Institutes of Health's John E. Fogarty International Center for Advanced Study in the Health Sciences (FIC), many of which fund research in developing countries.
In an accompanying interview with GrantsNet, FIC director Gerald Keusch discussed his views about training abroad in the biomedical sciences and the center's plans for the future.
The Next Wave staff has gathered a collection of useful Internet resources: funding programs, research institutions, governmental and nongovernmental organizations and more.