George Mason University

News at Mason

Mason, Costa Rica confirm scientific exchange to research mosquito-borne diseases

March 17, 2017   /   by Buzz McClain

Mason President Ángel Cabrera and Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera sign a memorandum of understanding for research.

Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, President of the Republic of Costa Rica, and George Mason President Ángel Cabrera sign a research agreement at Arlington Campus of George Mason University on Friday, March 17. Photo by Ron Aira.

George Mason University and Costa Rica formalized a partnership on Friday to share information and resources to study mosquito-borne illnesses, including Zika.

Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera and Mason President Ángel Cabrera signed the agreement, which has been two years in the making, said Peggy Agouris, dean of Mason’s College of Science.

Costa Rica became interested in a partnership when the Costa Rican ambassador, Román Macaya Hayes, became aware of research already underway at the Mason-based National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases. Discussions began in 2015, Agouris said, followed by an exchange of visits to the center by Costa Rican officials and trips to Costa Rica by Mason scientists.

“Today’s signing is proof that exciting things can happen when visionary scientists connect,” Agouris said.

Cabrera also presented Solís with Mason’s Freedom and Learning Award at Friday’s event at Mason’s Founders Hall auditorium on the Arlington Campus.

“What we have been working on is truly significant for the country and, I hope, for science in general,” Solís  said. “If we can make progress dealing with these diseases and discovering treatments, it will be great for many, many thousands of people, not only in Latin America but in different countries around the world.”

Solís also took part in a question-and-answer session with Cabrera and Mark J. Rozell, dean of Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government.

Solís was asked what he might discuss with Vice President Mike Pence at their meeting on Friday.

“We will reaffirm the good relationship we have with the United States,” he said. “It is an opportunity to explain how [Costa Rica] is different, and with different challenges, from other countries in our region.”

Solís also talked about the origins and future of his nation, and about what it was like to run a successful third-party campaign for president.

When asked what role his country plays in addressing climate change, he noted Costa Rica is already dealing with rising sea levels, increased droughts, changes in the rainy season and its first out-of-season—and deadly—hurricane in late November.

“We have to press on with the Paris Agreement,” Solís  said. “Costa Rica will keep its commitment.”