The Graduate Program (PPG) in Physiology at the Ribeirão Preto Medical School (FMRP), University of São Paulo (USP) was founded in 1970 and completed 50 years in 2020. The program was an initiative of a group of professors from the Department of Physiology, and became pioneering in the development of Physiology in Brazil with the arrival of Prof. Dr. Miguel R. Covian from Buenos Aires (Argentina), in 1955.
The primary purpose of our PPG has been to provide a solid theoretical foundation and bench-top research experience for individuals aiming at a scientific career. For this reason, our faculty maintains outstanding performance in the investigation of physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms in the areas of Cardiovascular Physiology, Endocrine and Metabolism, Renal, Neurophysiology, Respiratory, Synaptic Physiology and Biophysics, and Digestive.
The Program evolved qualitatively and quantitatively, and, in December 2020, it was composed of 15 permanent advisors, 16 Master’s students, and 23 Doctoral students. Twelve Post-Doctoral students who, together with professors, graduate students, and scientific initiation students, actively participate in graduate teaching and research activities in different areas of Physiology.
Our Program, associated with the Department of Physiology and, therefore, guided by the philosophical and innovative principles of Miguel R. Covian, has grade 7 in CAPES evaluation (level 7-PROEX) for developing works with international quality standards, attested by the publications by its professors in the main international journals focused on the Physiological Sciences. Furthermore, the Program aims to train skilled human resources and contribute so that the Science might be acknowledged by the population thanks to pioneering Scientific Dissemination and Extension Projects.
Upon completing 50 years since the foundation of the Graduate Program in Physiology (1970-2020), 300 Master’s Dissertations, and 301 Ph.D. Theses were defended. Of these 395 graduated professionals, about 65% are part of the Faculty in Brazilian Universities, mainly public (Federal and State). Other graduates are working as Researchers at Universities in the country, as post-Docs and abroad. Several Master’s graduates are enrolled in Doctoral Courses in our PPG and others. The geographic distribution of our graduates shows that approximately 50% are in the Southeast region. It is noteworthy that many of the Faculty graduates of this PPG are currently responsible for other important graduate programs in Brazil. This shows the multiplying effect of our PPG in the development and growth of Physiology in Brazil. In addition to training skilled professionals, the faculty of our program stands out for the quantity and quality of its scientific production. In the last decade, more than 870 scientific papers were published in international journals, and approximately 75% of these are classified between Qualis B1 and A1 of CAPES. As one of the oldest PPGs in Physiology in the country, its historical, political, and academic impact is remarkable.
Implementation of the Graduate Program in Physiology at FMRP-USP
“On celebrating the 50th anniversary of its creation, it is good to remember the beginning of the course today named Graduate Program in Physiology. I was the representative of the Assistant Professors at the University Council of USP and appointed by the Dean Prof. Hélio Lourenço de Oliveira to compose the committee chaired by Prof. Senise who elaborated the guidelines of graduate courses, which was approved even before the Policies. This contributed to our Director Prof. Moura Gonçalves who appointed me to the committee chaired by Prof. Rocha e Silva who would implement graduate studies at FMRP. At the same time, the Board of the Department of Physiology (newly established by the new statute) elected Prof. Miguel Covian to Head of the Department and me as coordinator of the first Graduate Program. Therefore, I worked simultaneously in the organization of the School’s Programs and, particularly, in Physiology. Studies and discussions were necessary to establish the requirements and differences between the Master and Doctorate, the distribution of research credits, reports, the qualifying exam, the concept, and the distribution of disciplines in the area of concentration. In Physiology, we decided that compulsory disciplines should cover the Department’s major research areas to familiarize students with the main methods used in the sector. The Physiology Program was an immediate success with students from several Brazilian states and also from abroad (Rafael Brenes y Brenes was from Costa Rica and was the first graduate student). Despite the area restrictions, the Department allocated a room especially for graduate students, considered by the School’s conservative nuclei as a center of protest against the current military regime. Due to the intended academic freedom, two students, without success, proposed jointly defending a single Thesis from collaborative research (both students had remarkable careers). Surely, it was the activity of the excellent research groups already functioning, thanks to the leadership of Prof. Covian, and the wise definition of the academic part that successfully enabled the implementation of the Program. I miss that time and my colleagues, many of them already deceased. On behalf of all of them, I greet the current professors and directors responsible for assuring the excellence of Program we had hoped for.”