In crisis-hit Argentina, researcher turns to game show for funds

  • Sunday 12, May 2019 08:48 AM
Sharjah 24 – Reuters: Amid a swirling economic crisis and protests over budget cuts for research in Argentina, one scientist has found a novel way to fundraise: winning money on a television game show.
Marina Simian, a biologist for Argentina's National Scientific and Technical Research Council, went on the local version of the TV program "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," saying she needed the money to support her cancer research.

Simian, the head of a nanobiology lab researching oncology treatments for breast cancer and other forms of the disease, used her intellect on the game show to win 500,000 pesos ($11,000) to pay for laboratory supplies.

"I am not a hero. I used a strategy that was a bit creative or different to get financing for my work group," Simian said in an interview at the National University of San Martín in Buenos Aires.

Government funding has become less reliable for science research in recession-hit Argentina amid rampant inflation and a tumbling peso. The weaker exchange rate has also sapped people's spending power, especially buying equipment overseas in dollars, a common practice due to better availability and lower prices.

Jorge Aguado, a senior government science and technology official, said that research budgets have increased since President Mauricio Macri took office in 2015, but acknowledged the economic volatility has caused delays in doling out the funds.

He added that fewer Argentine scientists were returning to the country after doing research abroad, with just 41 last year down from 90 in 2013 - a potential brain drain.
Argentina has three Nobel prize winners for science, but researchers have long lamented a scarcity of resources for the field.

The funding hold-ups are why Simian threw her hat into the ring on Tuesday night as the nation watched on live television.