Profs follow different routes to South America

The Argentine connection

(September 3, 1998, Gazette)

By Sharon Gray

Two faculty members in different disciplines are forging links with universities in Argentina.

For Dr. David Close, Political Science, and Dr. Ted Hoekman, Medicine, recent trips to Argentina have resulted in fruitful collaboration. Dr. Close is now developing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Universidad Nacional de San Juan and the Universidad Nacional Mendoza de Cuyo, while Dr. Hoekman is following up his initial contact with the Universidad Nacional Mendoza de Cuyo through a similar agreement.

For Dr. Close, the Argentine connection was made through a colleague, Dr. Alberto Gago, who teaches political science at the two universities.

"He was trying to make links with other universities in peripheral areas that are resource-dependent, which is certainly the case in Newfoundland."

The two Argentine universities are developing an interdisciplinary social science doctoral program, and the MOU with Memorial will facilitate potential student exchanges as well as make it easier to obtain help in searching out research materials.

Dr. Close, who gave seminars at both Cuyo and San Juan during his visit, notes that Argentina and Newfoundland share many common economic problems, including the collapse of a major fishery due to overfishing.

Dr. Hoekman's interest in collaborating with colleagues in Argentina began when he developed a friendship with Dr. Guillermo Reynoso during the American Medical Informatics Association annual meeting last November. He acted on this interest during a recent trip to that country with his Argentinian-born wife.

Dr. Hoekman's research interest lies in the development of computer resources for physicians, and during his South American visit he gave a short course on developing such resources for continuing medical education at Dr. Reynoso's institute in Buenos Aires (Centro de Educacian Medicae Investigaciones Clinica -- Medical School). He also presented a seminar on his work at the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine. Like Newfoundland, many communities in Argentina are small and isolated and Dr. Hoekman said there is a great interest in telemedicine and internet technologies.

While visiting Mendoza, Dr. Gago (with whom Dr. Hoekman and his wife had become acquainted during the Learneds Society Congress at Memorial last summer), suggested that they establish contact with the medial school at the Universidad Nacional Mendoza de Cuyo. There Dr. Hoekman spoke with colleagues in the Department of Nuclear Medicine who are developing computing resources for their hospital system.

"The Argentine medical education system is old and established but their systems are currently almost all paper," he said. "In terms of computers available for students, they have a little computer laboratory with room for only 12 work stations -- they certainly have a long way to go in terms of infrastructure."

Developing MOUs with other universities, particularly in developing countries, is strongly encouraged by Memorial's International Programs Office.

"These agreements open up a lot of possibilities in terms of funding, student recruitment and distance education," explained administrative secretary Colleen Clarke.

Memorial currently has more than 50 MOUs with universities outside Canada.