August 2008 visit to Dr. Luiz Juliano, Department of Biophysics, Escola Paulista de Medicina, Universidade Federal de São Paulo


In 2008 Dr. Luiz Juliano, a pioneer in the field of human kallikrein-related peptidase research, invited us to visit his lab in São Paulo, Brazil.  I have never been to South America before, and while I have visited some major cities, São Paulo was unlike any city I have seen before.  Flying in to São Paulo, the city stretches in every direction, as far as you can see.  There is no center with skyscrapers; instead, high-rise buildings dot the landscape.


On the day of arrival, Dr. Juliano was having a rare family get-together, where we were introduced to the Brazilian national dish of feijoada.  This dish is black beans and pork.  In Brazil all parts of the pig are included (and easily identifiable), but for Americans, they leave out a few of the more unusual parts.  Here is a picture of Sachiko and I along with Dr. Juliano, his wife Jean, and Dr. Luciano Puzer (who visited our lab in the spring/summer of 2008):


The next day we went to the lab.  The university is located in an area of town with several hospitals and research institutions.


Dr. Juliano’s research group is quite diverse, and includes synthetic organic chemists, enzymologists, and molecular biologists.  Here, Dr. Rodrigo Cunha (organic chemist) is explaining how Tellurium dialkanes are incredibly malodorous compounds (he promised to send me a sample).


One of the characteristics of the lab in Brazil was that the countertops were granite.  Granite is apparently easily obtained in Brazil; and since it is essentially chemically inert, it is great for countertops.  Having recently remodeled a kitchen, I can say that it is incredibly expensive in the U.S. and no way would it be used for lab bench tops.  So (from the U.S. perspective) here is a very incongruous image – beautiful granite countertops in a lab!