Turmoil at Brazilian Research Center

More than 100 researchers have left a neuroscience institute in Brazil in the last couple of weeks, protesting managerial problems they say are thwarting their work.

Aug 9, 2011
Jef Akst


Dozens of researchers are walking out the door of the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal (ELS-IINN) in Brazil, frustrated with the center’s management, ScienceInsider reports. Since the end of July, 10 principal investigators have shut down their labs, and more than 100 students, postdocs, and technicians have stopped working at the facility, including one of the institute's co-founders, Sidarta Ribeiro.

The dramatic actions stem from the researchers’ frustrations with management policies that they claim is hurting their research, hindering access to equipment and facilities. Ribeiro and the other defectors have now formed their own institute, under Ribeiro’s direction, at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte.

"It's unfortunate, but it's their decision," neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, scientific director of ELS-IINN, told ScienceInsider. "As a nonprofit organization in Brazil, we have to follow a lot of regulations," he added in defense of the rules that drove the researchers away. He also stated that the events will not significantly hurt the institute, which has seven principal investigators remaining, and is currently looking for five new hires.