Portugal renews its Scientific Associate Membership and joins the PSB


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Portugal strengthens its links with the ESRF. On 10th January, Portugal's government and the ESRF renewed an agreement that enables this country to use the facility for five years. At the same time, another signature took place: the agreement with the Partnership for Structural Biology (PSB) that will give Portugal the status of academic Associate Member. It is the first country to join the PSB.

The signature of this Agreement concerning the long-term scientific use of synchrotron radiation was due to the expiry, last December, of the first contract of Portugal with the ESRF. Now Portugal will keep its status of Scientific Associate of the ESRF for a period of five years.

Portugal's contribution to the ESRF's budget will continue to be equal to 1%, as in the first agreement. But, since the scientific and technological community of this state uses the ESRF facilities more and more frequently, there might be a need to increase this country's contribution.

Portugal's Secretary of State for Science and Technology, Manuel Fernandes Thomaz, came to the ESRF on the occasion of these signatures. "We would like to boost Portugal's participation to the ESRF, since the scientific projects at the synchrotron have a lot of applications that are relevant to society", said Professor Thomaz.

Portugal was the first country to sign a "Scientific Associate" contract with the ESRF, and therefore, has been the first one to renew it. The next one will be Israel, whose arrangement expires end of 2003. The Austrian Academy of Sciences has just signed an agreement for the period 2003 to 2007. Medium-term arrangements of two years have been concluded with the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Scientific Associates are governments (or organisations thereof) which ensure their scientific communities a long-term scientific use of synchrotron radiation at the ESRF, but which contribute at a lower level than 4%, as required for Membership in the ESRF company.

First academic associate of the PSB


There was a second aim for Prof. Thomaz's visit: last Friday Portugal became the first academic Associate Member of the Partnership for Structural Biology (PSB). The PSB's goal is to build an integrated resource for structural genomics and proteomics unrivalled in the world.

Prof. Thomaz also foresees a big future for this partnership: "The PSB has a lot of potential to advance in the field of structural biology; a very important field for society".


Portugal's participation in this project is already visible in the fact that Portuguese staff have been included in the construction of the new ESRF macromolecular crystallography beamline ID23. The project has seen the involvement of four Portuguese staff at an early stage, which is also important from the point of view of education and training.

(1) - The Council Chairman, Robert Comès, shakes hands with Professor Thomaz after the signature of the agreement. In the background, from left to right, Rudolf Dimper, Karl Witte and Helmut Krech.

(2) - Professor Thomaz with Sean McSweeney, the head of the Macromolecular Crystallography group, at ID 29.



For more information, please contact press@esrf.fr.