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