The Education Ministry has launched an emergency program to support scientific studies on epidemics. According to the government, a BRL 200-million budget will pay for 2,600 research grants. The program will be carried out in three waves:
- Immediate greenlight to 900 grants for Ph.D. and masters degree studies for 36 months — to be renewed every 12 months;
- Next week, a further 900 grants will be released — including 30 research projects in epidemiology, immunology, microbiology, bioengineering, and bioinformatics. Each will receive BRL 345,000.
- The last wave will encompass 800 grants in exact sciences and health over the next few months.
Brazilian scientists have suffered from depleted funds — with many opting to emigrate in order to have access to proper research programs. This trend started in 2014 under the Dilma Rousseff administration, before intensifying since 2016 with the government slashing these funds in order to comply with austerity measures.
Under Jair Bolsonaro, the Ministry of Education decided to freeze BRL 5.7 million of the department’s budget, including a 30-percent cut in discretionary funding for federal universities — sparking a wave of protests by students and professors.
It remains to be seen whether or not the government will greenlight the money as its plan states — other economic initiatives to cushion the effects of the Covid-19 crisis have stalled.