Salvador Aznar Benitah receives the “Premio Fundación Carmen y Severo Ochoa 2019”

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The jury unanimously decided to award Salvador Aznar Benitah in acknowledgement of his work on adult stem cells and the relation of these with circadian rhythms and metastasis, and also in recognition of his recent entrepreneurial activity.

The award is given in recognition of biochemistry and molecular biology research of excellence performed mainly in Spain.

The ICREA researcher Salvador Aznar Benitah, head of the Stem Cells and Cancer Laboratory at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), has received the “Premio Carmen y Severo Ochoa de Investigación Biomédica” in recognition of the important scientific achievements that he has made in the last 5 years. 

On 16 October, the jury of the XXVth award of the “Fundación Carmen y Severo Ochoa” unanimously voted for Aznar Benitah to receive the accolade in acknowledgement of his research on the characterisation of the molecular pathways that regulate the temporal behaviour of adult stem cells, which are linked to our circadian rhythms.

This finding has shed light on how many of the functions of stem cells (differentiation, division and metabolic activity) are regulated, as well as their alterations (aging and cancer). Aznar Benitah has recently identified the cells that give rise to metastasis and determined how dietary fat affects this process.

The jury also acknowledged “Dr. Aznar’s efforts to transfer knowledge for the development of business initiatives”. This year Aznar Benitah, together with researcher Valerie Vanhooren, IRB Barcelona and ICREA, launched the spin-off Ona Therapeutics, which seeks to develop a new drug for the treatment of metastatic cancer.

“The “Premio Carmen y Severo Ochoa” is particularly special; you only have to take a look at the list of former awardees, all of them with an incredible career and who do first-rate science. It´s an honour for me to join this group,” said the researcher.

Aznar Benitah occupies position 25 in the list of prestigious scientists—a list that started in 1994 with Juan Modolell, who was followed by others such as IRB Barcelona researchers Manuel Serrano and Eduard Batlle. The award presentation and corresponding Commemorative Lecture were held yesterday, Wednesday 13 November, in a ceremony held in the “Salón de Actos” at CSIC (Madrid), under the auspices of the Fundación Tatiana Pérez de Guzmán el Bueno.


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Background photo: Skin cancer stem cells to study biological processes related to different types of cancer and metastasis. Lorenzo Rinaldi, Alumni.