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An interview with CLIMOS Project Coordinator

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Can you briefly describe your academic background and how it has influenced your career in managing EU Research and Innovation projects?

I hold a Veterinary Medicine degree, an MSc in Medical Parasitology, a PhD, and a Habilitation title in Biomedical Sciences, specializing in Parasitology, all obtained from NOVA University Lisbon. Additionally, I am recognized as a Veterinary Parasitology Specialist by the European Veterinary Parasitology College. Since 2020, I have been serving as an Assistant Researcher at the Medical Parasitology Unit of the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University NOVA of Lisbon. Throughout my academic journey, I have focused on vector-borne zoonotic diseases, particularly those pathogens transmitted by phlebotomine sand flies, such as Leishmania parasites causing leishmaniasis, and more recently, phleboviruses, responsible for flu-like syndromes and summer meningitis. 

I was inspired to take on the role of CLIMOS coordinator as it will allow me together with the other 28 partners to develop innovative solutions that have tangible impacts on public and animal health following a One Health approach. This project not only aligns with my academic background but also represents a significant step towards enhancing preparedness and mitigating the spread of sand fly-borne diseases in a changing world. 

Can you elaborate on the most impactful contributions from CLIMOS to the EU landscape?

The CLIMOS project’s focus on studying the geographical change of sand flies and implementing awareness and preventive measures against the diseases they transmit is crucial in the context of the EU landscape. The pressing issue of sand fly-borne diseases, exacerbated by climate change, environmental shifts, and globalization, has been a driving force behind research interests, with increasingly recognizing the likelihood of these diseases spreading to new geographical areas and becoming more prevalent in endemic regions. 

As the leader of the climate-health cluster coordination, how do you feel about your role in leading these initiatives? What would you say are the key challenges and rewards of such role?

As the leader of the climate-health cluster coordination since July 2023 until the end of March 2024, I found my role both challenging and rewarding. Coordinating cluster activities across diverse projects addressing various topics, while also managing CLIMOS project, presents significant challenges. However, the rewarding aspect lies in discovering synergies between projects and ensuring the avoidance of repetition and overlap. 

In your opinion, what are the essential qualities that the policy brief produced by the Cluster should have? How can the Cluster better support the EU policies in terms of health and Climate change?

In my opinion, the policy brief produced by the Cluster should succinctly and clearly communicate the latest findings on climate change and health research, emphasizing a One Health and Planetary Health perspective and should highlight the significance of evidence-based decision-making and provide practical recommendations for policymakers. 

To better support EU policies regarding health and climate change, the Cluster should maintain its participation in high-level RTD conferences and related events. In addition, it should prioritize maximizing communication and dissemination of results from project networks to ensure policymakers and stakeholders receive key findings effectively.