The Norman Transcript

October 18, 2012

OU a ‘gem’ for research

By Caitlin Schudalla
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Doctors Maria de Sousa and Rui Costa, pre-eminent medical researchers and leaders of the American Portugese Biomedical Research Fund, visited Norman and Oklahoma City on Tuesday and Wednesday for a meeting of the APBRF executive board and for a first tour of the University of Oklahoma campus.

De Sousa and Costa, along with APBRF treasurer Robert Williams and portfolio manager Mark Smith (both Oklahoma natives coordinating the visit), also visited with OU Health Sciences Center faculty to discuss research and exchange opportunities for Portugese medical students interested in OU.

Founded on the philosophy of providing grants to “faces and not masks,” the APBRF is a nonprofit organization founded on a philosophy of awarding smaller grants to individual researchers and building a relationship with them, particularly those interested in foreign exchange and graduate education.

“(Internationally) it’s the biggest centers and schools that get all the attention, but OU ranks well in the U.S., which requires excellence, and it offers a great education,” Costa said. “Portugese medical students and teachers are also excellent, but don’t have the same educational opportunities.”

De Sousa and Dr. Costa toured the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, the Bizzell Memorial Library and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History on Tuesday.

“The artwork and especially the History of Science Collections were very impressive. I greatly enjoyed them,” De Sousa said. “OU has many gems and much to be proud of.”

In particular, De Sousa said she was impressed by the tradition of philanthropy so strongly exhibited by OU alumni, calling the spirit of giving and responsibility “remarkable.”

An internationally renowned researcher, De Sousa’s career includes major contributions to cell biology pertaining to cancer research. De Sousa has served as lecturer at Glasgow University, directed the laboratory of Cell Ecology at the Sloan Kettering Institute of Cancer Research in New York and founded an MSC program in Immunology and, later, a graduate program on basic and applied biology in Oporto. De Sousa was a founding collaborator of the APBRF and is the current scientific director.

Serving the APBRF as president, Costa is a recipient of the 2001 Young Investigator Award from the National Neurofibromatosis Foundation, a finalist for the 2003 Lindsley Prize from the Society for Neuroscience and recipient of the 2010 Seeds of Science Prize for Life Sciences. Costa has worked as a section chief at the National Institutes of Health and studies the neurobiology of action in health and disease.

For more information on the APBRF, visit

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.