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María Blasco calls for respect and funding for research in her conferment as UA honorary doctorate

 

Researcher and Director of the Spanish Cancer Research Centre has been distinguished with an honorary doctorate by the University of Alicante 

 

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Alicante. Friday, 27 January 2017

The University of Alicante's traditional ceremony of  St. Thomas Aquinas was celebrated, one more year, with the presentation of over one hundred special awards to graduate and PhD students and the inauguration of researcher and director of the Spanish Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) María Blasco as Honoris Causa Doctor.

In her speech of acceptance of the honorary degree conferred by the University of Alicante, Dr. María Blasco, thanked her appointment as "a collective work", highlighting the work of her research group "which has been joined by more than 50 female and male scientists from all over the world".

Blasco called for more funding for research "which is not only used for advancing the development of humanity, but also for training and serving the pool of next-generations researchers".

Before a full auditorium, the new honorary member assured that she has dedicated her life to understanding the "impermanence of the human body" and to fighting against the "ageing process, that is the cause of most of the diseases affecting our society "and recalled that, as a result of her team's work "mice live healthily up to 40 percent longer, which is as if most humans reach 115-120 years of age in good health conditions". She also stated that" we do not want to be immortal, but eternally young without falling sick", not as in the myth of Tithonus," who, after achieving immortality, he grew older and wrinkled until he became a cricket".

María Blasco spoke out in support of the need for “innovation and basic research transfer for its application. We, scientists are eager to have the support needed to translate our findings into applications, since for a scientist there is nothing more rewarding than seeing that their achievements can have an impact on society."

Before she ended her speech, she mentioned the person responsible for her passion for Molecular Biology in a lecture on genetic engineering while she was studying her pre-university year, at a high school in San Vicente del Raspeig and that made her choose her current background, Francisco Rodríguez Varela, who found out ,along with Francisco Mojica, "one of the most revolutionary discoveries of modern biotechnology".

UA President Manuel Palomar highlighted that Dr. María Blasco represents the values of the University of Alicante, that is, "quality training and cutting-edge research" and thanked the new UA honoris causa member for her "contribution to science, commitment to research and socially responsible contribution."

Palomar recalled not only the scientific and research contribution of María Blasco, but also her "strong commitment to scientific dissemination and sponsorship, as well as responsibility towards society and equality" and noted that "it is not a whim but a fad but a necessity to support and recognise the work of our researchers. Maintaining the levels of research excellence is a guarantee for the future."

Vice President for Research and Knowledge Transfer Amparo Navarro, was in charge of the laudatio of Dr. Maria Blasco, a speech in which she took a journey through the life of the new University of Alicante honorary member. From her birth in the Alicante district of El Verdegàs, her studies in the San Vicente del Raspeig high school, to the present time, in charge of the Spanish Cancer Research Centre, obviously going through her work with Dr. Margarita Salas, at the CSIC Center for Molecular Biology and later with Dr. Carol Greider at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, who would be recognised in 2009 with the Nobel Prize in Physiology for her research with Dr. Elizabeth Blackburm on telomeres and telomerase .

"To leave is not dangerous, that is something necessary to learn from others. What is dangerous is not to return", Navarro said in the laudation of Blasco, who did return and who, as the Vice President stated, like all exceptional people, she is polyhedral: she combines her research with her high management responsibilities perfectly ". Although Maria Blasco's commitment to transfer, innovation and corporate social responsibility was particularly emphasised, "the key idea is that science must be applied and at the service of society. She also pointed out that "during her management, the number of hospitals that work with CNIO has increased from one to twelve and several pharmaceutical companies have been involved."

 

Special awards

After the honorary degree confernment ceremony, the auditorium was the scene of the presentation of over a hundred  undergraduate and PhD special awards, as well as a national undergraduate award, for whom the university president had his first words. Palomar congratulated all graduates of the 2015-2016 academic year "represented here by their classmates who have won special awards".

The UA president encouraged the graduates to "be a living example of the ethical behaviour of the University of Alicante students, for being permanent ambassadors of its values of tolerance, critical spirit and responsible behaviour."

 

Articles related:

University of Alicante to award an honorary doctorate to María Blasco

The University of Alicante celebrates St. Thomas Aquinas awarding an honorary degree to Maria Blasco

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