Rio de Janeiro

RRI action on Education at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), Brazil

Editorial Team RRI

Implementing responsible research and innovation (RRI) in bioscience research institutions requires different strategies depending on the context. In this blog post, the STARBIOS2 team at FIOCRUZ in Brazil share their lessons learned from participating in the project. You can also find their story on our YouTube channel, along other presentations from the STARBIOS2 final event.

Rio de Janeiro

Main challenges

At the beginning of the STARBIOS2 project, the term Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) was not yet widely adopted and disseminated at Fiocruz, but many common practices fit within the spirit of RRI to make science and technology (S&T) more responsive, reflective, inclusive, open to social demands and more socially responsible. Therefore, the main challenges were defining action plans to make and adjust already existing practices in Fiocruz more systematic and relevant to the institution. 

Focus on Education

Fiocruz is the main institution non-university on training and qualification of human resources for the Unified Health System (SUS) and for science and technology in Brazil. Thus, education is one of the pillars of Fiocruz and we have focused our main activities on this field, through courses, workshops for discuss RRI concepts and training for technology transfer and capacity building.

Overcoming obstacles

Since Fiocruz’s focus is to produce, disseminate and share knowledge and technologies aimed at the strengthening and consolidation of the Unified Health System (SUS) and contribute to the promotion of health and quality of life of the population, we had no problems in proposing measures to disseminate RRI concepts in the institution. Our main difficulty was to ensure the adherence of the public, among them postgraduate students, to the proposed activities.

Action plans in action

During the four years of the STARBIOS2 project, we worked in all key areas of RRI. Within the field of education, we promoted an event called MOBAH that aims to discuss with the various sectors of society the current status of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and publicize the new directions in the field of HIV testing, collaborating with the fight against these epidemics.

Based on our experience with the STARBIOS2 project, we started to include courses for technology transfer in research projects training. For example the “Nanopore-based gene sequencing technology for temporal investigation and epidemiology of dengue outbreak: training, research, surveillance and scientific dissemination” in which we approach techniques used during our activities related to the epidemiological surveillance of arboviruses circulating and co-circulating in Brazil.

RRI action in all RRI keys

Our main activities were:

  • National workshop to promote the dissemination of the knowledge regarding the dissemination of HIV and HTLV;
  • Mobile genomics mission in Midwest Brazil;
  • Nanopore-based gene sequencing technology course for transfer technology and capacity building for the health workers of Central Health laboratories in Brazil to track the spread of emerging viral pathogens;
  • Academic course based on the RRI for PhD students at the Fiocruz focused on disseminating science and innovation;
  • Workshop on gender and public engagement at the FIOCRU focused on promoting structural changes.

Sustaining change

The concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a new approach to reinforce the interactions between science and society. This concept involves five key principles: Education; Open Access; Ethic; Social Engagement and Gender Equality. Our vision is that the insertion and sustained practice of these concepts in the institution will only be possible if current and new researchers are made aware of the importance of applying all these concepts.  Therefore, we propose the implementation of a discipline in Fiocruz dedicated to postgraduate courses to work with the principles and application of RRI in Brazil.

What we learned

The participation in STARBIOS2 provided us with the ideal environment to reflect our research projects, as well as facilitates the practical insertion of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) into bioscience.

Learn more about Fiocruz