Saturday, October 19, 2019
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ARGENTINA | 08-05-2019 19:49

CONIECT researcher wins big on TV show, will use cash to fund cancer project

Argentina's investment in science and technology is 0.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), one percentage point less than what the Macri campaign promised during the 2015 election campaign.

A scientist from Argentina's CONICET research body on Tuesday won 500,000 pesos on the local version of the popular Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? television show.

In remarks that drew attention on social media, Marina Simian will use the money to support a project she is involved in at CONICET and the University of San Martin which is looking into cancer treatments, she told Millionaire host Santiago del Moro.

The researcher made the most of her 15 minutes of fame to lament the underfunding of science and research in Argentina.

"We come here to raise a little bit of money. It will go toward the research group," she said pointedly.

Argentina's investment in science and technology is 0.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), one percentage point less than what the Mauricio Macri campaign promised during the 2015 election campaign, according to the national budget.

Some CONICET-dependent bodies received only 40 percent of their 2018 budget, the organisation's leaders complained in December.

The sector has been hit by budget cuts, with the Macri administration enacting an austerity package as part of the programme agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the terms of the government's US$56-billion loan.

Simian has five researchers on scholarships in her programme, she told Radio Metro following the broadcast of the episode.

"We receive the money in drips, not according to the agreed-upon timeframes," she said, noting that her programme needs around US$15,000 a year in additional funding.

"We're in a difficult situation because of the budget allocations for science and technology and I am committed to supporting the scholarship recipients, and I need to provide them with what they need to work," Simian added.

She described the challenges facing researchers working with products charged to them in dollars.

"It is not convenient to buy reagents in Argentina because they cost three or four times more than overseas," she remarked.

"I'm going to rescue my year's work. I don't know how much tax they'll charge but it will make a significant difference," she said of her prize money.

See also: CONICET researchers decry budget, salary pressures in 2018

-TIMES/PERFIL

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