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Strengthening collaborative relationships with organizations in Brazil

On any given day, Dr. Walter Siqueira, DDS, PhD, can be found supervising several trainees, dental students and postdoctoral fellows — not only located in Canada, but also in his home country of Brazil.

“On my busiest days I have meetings in three different cities around the world that I need to attend in person, by phone or by Skype,” Dr. Siqueira said with a laugh. “At times it can be challenging and a lot of work, but it is this hard work has helped our research efforts grow tremendously." 

An associate professor at Schulich Dentistry and with the Department of Biochemistry, Dr. Siqueira has been developing strong collaborative relationships with organizations in Brazil since he started working at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry in 2009. 

Research grants in Canada and Brazil have made it possible for Dr. Siqueira to collaborate with these organizations by having part of his lab’s experiments completed in Brazil, and part of his lab’s experiments completed in Canada.

“The big advantage of collaborating in this way is that we are multiplying the areas that we are working in,” Dr. Siqueira explained. “At Schulich Medicine & Dentistry I have my physical lab, but I now have several satellite labs in Brazil that also work under my umbrella on my research.”

Dr. Siqueira is a leader in the research area of saliva and salivary proteomics. His lab works to identify and amplify proteins in saliva that prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay. They are also analyzing biomarkers to assist in the fast diagnosis of a range of illnesses.

With very few people working on this area of research in Brazil, they have turned to Dr. Siqueira for guidance and training.

“When I develop these collaborative partnerships, they work on my ideas, in my research areas,” he said. “Instead of publishing one paper every few months, these relationships have helped us publish two or three papers every few months. It’s helping our work grow.”

Aside from these collaborative relationships with Brazil, Dr. Siqueira has hosted approximately 25 international trainees since he joined the team at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. He has worked with students from the United States, Turkey, Ecuador, Pakistan and India, and loves the multi-cultural energy that it brings to his lab.

“We need to demonstrate to potential students that when they come here they will have the support they need to be successful,” Dr. Siqueira said. “We are working to make a guideline for things related to finances, housing and health insurance — this work will make a huge difference and make them continue to want to come here.”

Dr. Siqueira’s work is helping to further the School’s internationalization goals, as well as Schulich Dentistry’s goal of becoming one of the top dental schools in North America.

“What I’m trying to do here is make connections and open up the opportunity for us to learn from the organizations we collaborate with,” he said. “These international collaborations need to go two ways — they need to learn from us, and we need to learn from them. And that is what we are currently doing.”

Dr. Siqueira accepts many students from Brazil through the RISE Globalink Research Internship. The call for 2017 Globalink Research Internship faculty submissions is now open, and professors can submit projects until June 16, 2016. Click here to learn more.