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Biochemistry and Corruption in Latin America (Arge

Eduardo R. Saguier

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Biochemistry and Corruption in Latin America (Argentina)

A senior argentine biochemist complained recently about the way state research resources have been misused for private purposes. His complaint, submitted to research institutions, has been for the moment being completely ignored.

The complaint refers to the way material resources given by state institutions to do scientific research are being implemented. Very often these resources have been misused for personal benefit, and sometimes when the research reaches an economic value has been exploited for private profit. Scholars who use public funds, specially university professors who do research together with young university students should exhibit elementary ethic standards. There are a lot of researchers who work with a very low salary or without any economic benefit whatsoever. And these bad examples defraud their expectations.

A particular biochemist, at the present time retired, and whose identity I am not allowed to disclose, reveals that in the 1990s he together with an another colleague made a biochemical study in university laboratories with funds provided by state institutions and with students coming from Buenos Aires National University. This particular research was aimed to study molecular mechanisms accounting for changes in cell metabolism. As in the University laboratory the experiment showed up strange chemical changes, he decided to prepare a project, essentially biological. Around 1990 both biochemists received an important amount of money from BID-CONICET to purchase instruments. The goal was purely scientific, but it had strong economic upshots.

In last november, once he was already retired, he got acquainted that in different national universities, Córdoba, Misiones and Mendoza, people gossiped that several biochemists have built a private laboratory, which owns different samples or prospects, that include those sequential biochemical reactions that form signaling cascades to regulate multiple hydrochlorates. The approximate value of those experiments reaches million of dollars. Moreover, the gossip says that with the equipment purchased with BID-CONICET funds, those suspected biochemists, one of whom belongs to a research committee in CONICET, are apparently making private works in favor of pharmacological laboratories of Salta, Tucuman and Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia).

This is a very nasty precedent, because biochemical discoveries done thanks to state funds and student work, are not being acknowledged. Apparently, state authorities are not doing the research and legal decisions necessary to avoid and overcome these kind of frauds.

However, any similarity of this imaginary gossip with present Argentine reality should be ascribed to a mere coincidence.


Eduardo R. Saguier


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