José Reis, a pioneer in science communication, encouraged the presence of researchers in the media – 02/11/2021 – Folha 100 anos

He read in Latin, German and French, understood physics, chemistry, microbiology and public administration and was an internationally recognized researcher and scientific disseminator. These were characteristics of the Folha José Reis man.

Julio Abramczyk, a doctor and journalist who has been writing for Folha since 1960, says: “The legacy that rice left was that scientists left the ivory tower in our midst, where they lived well housed and isolated from one another. Whoever appeared in the paper was despised in the scientific community. “
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“I believe that thanks to Reis’ pioneering spirit in this pandemic, no one is surprised by the presence of scientists and researchers who work with the media and explain Covid-19, its problems and the care it needs,” says the doctor.

Luiza Massarani, co-author of “José Reis: Traveling Salesman of Science” (Ed. Fiocruz / Casa de Oswaldo Cruz) and curator of the José Reis Collection at Fiocruz ‘Casa de Oswaldo Cruz, says that one of her main lessons was science Give due importance to dissemination and maintain a dialogue between scientists and society.

From the paper’s 100 years on, Reis was present from 1947 until his death in 2002, and became editor-in-chief from 1962 to 1967 when the military dictatorship was instituted.

Decades later, Reis wrote: “A painful task at a moment of transition and an economic crisis for the newspaper, exacerbated by the advent of the 1964 revolution. Fortunately, I had dedicated and thoughtful staff to help me navigate more than turbulent waters without detracting from the newspaper’s spirit of independence[…]”. Under his direction, Folha published an editorial in support of the 1964 coup – 50 years later the newspaper recognized the error of that content.

If on the one hand Reis had a good influence on the great bosses of the time and complained about “professional students” who were interested in political struggles of left groups at universities, he also acted in defense of freedom of expression and was persecuted scientists. According to him, the military regime no longer served the interests of society but those of a minority.

At that time, between running the newspaper and the debate about the country’s development, Reis sponsored science fairs for young people in the interior of São Paulo in order to instill in the students a critical mind based on research and knowledge of chemical, physical and biological Phenomena based. Hence the nickname: “Science Traveling Salesman”.

Because of him, the In the World of Science section was born in 1948. Scientific subjects such as the structure of materials, the functioning of the microscope, the life of microorganisms and the dangers of pollution inhabited these pages. In the subsection view, texts by famous scientists have been reproduced.

It was the embryo of Folha’s science department that was supposed to be created in 2000.

An example of Reis’ attention to the area is the first text to mention “global warming” in Folha, authored by him in 1978, on a report that alerted US authorities to climate change caused by the high carbon dioxide emissions in Folha the planet’s atmosphere.

Reis’ scientific contributions to the newspaper stayed for decades in the Periscópio column, in which he dealt with various scientific topics. Because of his influence, news with scientific topics proliferated in other editorials of the newspaper.

Thanks to Reis’ pioneering spirit, no one in this pandemic is surprised by the presence of scientists and researchers working with the media to explain Covid-19, its problems and the care it needs to take

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1907, Reis graduated from the UFRJ’s National Medical Faculty in the late 1920s, but did not develop a great appreciation for clinical disciplines.

He moved to São Paulo, where he did research at the Instituto Biológico. As a bacteriologist, his job was to study the pathogens that infest birds and hinder the growth of poultry production in São Paulo. It was there that the work began as a scientific disseminator, explaining to breeders how to protect animals from disease.

Pharmacist Annita Swensson, also a researcher at the Biological Institute, took part in the adventures. They were married from 1932 to 1999, the year of his death, and had two children, Marcos and Paulo, who had already passed away.

At home, Reis, although demanding, was open and receptive. “The meal time was serious. Everyone sat in their places at the table. Father shared family stories, science, literature, and took math and physics classes, ”says Marcos, 83.

The largest award in the region of the country has his name for its contribution to scientific communication, as does the José Reis Kernel for scientific dissemination at ECA / USP. Reis also participated in the discussions leading to the creation of Fapesp and the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science in 1948 – where he founded and edited the journal Ciência e Cultura.
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He died at the age of 94 with lung complications. He was already showing signs of weakness – not intellectual. “The geriatrician said that because of the intense intellectual activity he had, he had a great deal of cognitive reserve,” says Marcos.

The columns published to the end of life are evidence.

José Reis (1907-2002)
He was born in Rio in 1907 and began working with Folha in 1947. The following year he helped set up the No Mundo da Ciência section, the forerunner of the current Science Section. From 1962 to 1967 he was editor-in-chief. After studying medicine at the UFRJ in the late 1920s, he switched to SP to work as a researcher at the Instituto Biológico. He was instrumental in founding Fapesp and the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science. As a scientific sponsor, he bears the name of the main prize in the region. He kept the periscope column in Folha until his death

This text is part of the Humans of the Folha project, which introduces profiles of professionals who have made history in the newspaper. We are a family business.

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