Sergi Ferrer-Salat, president of the Board of Trustees of the Ferrer Research Foundation, highlighted that the work done by IRB Barcelona scientist, Manuel Serrano, is helping to further our understanding of the relation between ageing and cancer and identify approaches to manipulate this relation to our advantage.
In a ceremony held in the CaixaForum auditorium yesterday, the Secretary of State for Health, Javier Castrodeza, presented Manuel Serrano with the Severo Ochoa Research Award, a distinction given by the Ferrer Research Foundation in acknowledgement of his work "Tissue damage and senescence provide critical signals for cell reprogramming in vivo". Manuel Serrano, a leading authority in the field of tissue damage and ageing, heads the Cellular Plasticity and Disease lab at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and holds an ICREA research professorship. His lab is also supported by funding from the Obra Social “la Caixa” Foundation.
Ferrer-Salat said, “great discoveries stand out because they provide the answers to basic questions but of enormous relevance. This perfectly defines the excellent research performed by Manuel Serrano”. Ferrer-Salat stressed that “we all suspect that ageing is the most important factor in the onset of cancer. This study helps us to understand this relation and to manipulate it to our advantage. Furthermore, the study by Dr. Serrano is an outstanding example of the readiness of the public and private sectors to work hand in hand”.
First given in 1985, the Severo Ochoa Research Prize by the Ferrer Research Foundation is presented every two years and awards €40,000 and a commemorative medal carrying the figure of the Nobel Laureate Severo Ochoa. Serrano’s work was selected from among 15 outstanding studies. The award acknowledges the importance of the many perspectives of his research in the field of cancer and ageing.
In IRB Barcelona’s Cell Plasticity and Disease, Manuel Serrano focuses on how damage tissue is repaired and explores therapies based on regenerative medicine for the treatment of diabetes and lung fibrosis. However, defective repair underlies many other diseases, such as cancer and cell ageing. “We attempt to unravel the relation between reprogramming, repair and regeneration. It is a field in which little is known but in which we have made some progress that we want to exploit,” explains Serrano.
In 2013, the journal Nature reported on a scientific breakthrough made by his team, namely achieving cell reprogramming in a living organism for the first time. In addition, in 2016, he published a study in Science reporting that tissue damage triggers cells to return to an embryonic-like state. These two studies, together with previous advances in oncology, have positioned him as a international authority on biomedicine.
The award presentation ceremony was chaired by the Secretary of State for Health, Javier Castrodeza, who was accompanied by the following dignitaries: Sergi Ferrer-Salat, president of the Board of Trustees of the Ferrer Research Foundation; José Vilarasau, honorary president of “la Caixa”; Margarita Salas, chair of the Scientific Committee of the Ferrer Research Foundation; and Jordi Ramentol, CEO of Ferrer and member of the Board of Trustees of the Ferrer Research Foundation.