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Professor Joan Guinovart, president of biochemists worldwide

30 Sep 15



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For the next three years he will serve as president of the International Union of Biochemists and Molecular Biologists, an organisation that brings together biologists and biochemists from 77 countries.

During his acceptance of the presidency, Guinovart said, “it is a great honour to chair the Union” and that he will work steadfastly to strengthen the Union around the world.

As of this September and for the next three years, the director of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), Joan J. Guinovart, is to be at the helm of the International Union of Biochemists and Molecular Biologists (IUBMB). During the ceremony in which he accepted the presidency, which took place in the Annual Congress held in Brazil at the end of August, Prof. Guinovart declared, “it is a great honour to become president of this organisation,” and he assured those present that he would work steadfastly to increase the visibility and impact of IUBMB worldwide”. Guinovart takes over from Greg Petsko, from the Weill Cornell Medical College in the US, who has served as president for the last three years.

Guinovart, who will be the first Spanish scientist to head IUBMB, stated that his priorities include improving the teaching of biochemistry and molecular biology, encouraging the establishment of scientific societies in these disciplines in countries that do not currently have them, and promoting science among new generations. To launch these initiatives, Guinovart said with satisfaction that “IUBMB’s main strength lies in the great number of outstanding people that belong to its member organisations. The amount and quality of expertise that these people represent as a whole is immense and I count on all of them to engage in the activities of the Union”.

Set up in 1955 and registered in the Netherlands, IUBMB brings together biologists and molecular biochemists from 77 countries with the aim to promote research and education in these disciplines worldwide. Among its missions, IUBMB seeks to foster interaction between the different areas of the molecular sciences, set up networks that surpass ethnic, cultural, economic and gender barriers, create opportunities for young scientists to develop their full potential, provide counselling on science for public policy makers, promote the values and ethics of science, and assure the freedom and free movement of scientists worldwide. IUBMB has been chaired by Nobel laureates Severo Ochoa, Hugo Theorell, and Feodor Lynen, among others.

Born in Tarragona in 1947, Joan J. Guinovart holds a degree in Chemistry and a PhD in Pharmacy from the University of Barcelona (UB). He is a senior professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the UB and founding director of IRB Barcelona—a position he has held since October 2005. He is a Numerary Member of the Reial Acadèmia Nacional de Farmàcia (Institute of Spain) and of the Reial Acadèmia de Farmàcia de Catalunya, and a member of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (IEC) and the Academia Europaea. Among other honours, he has received the "Narcís Monturiol" Medal from the Generalitat de Catalunya, the “Prat de la Riba" Award from the IEC, the Honorary Diploma from FEBS, and the Creu de Sant Jordi from the Generalitat de Catalunya.

Guinovart has served as president of the Societat Espanyola de Bioquímica i Biologia Molecular (SEBBM), and Meetings Counsellor and member of the Executive Committee of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS), and he was also the first president of the Confederación de Sociedades Científicas de España (COSCE).

“I have channeled passion and enthusiasm into all my previous responsibilities and in all cases my input has furthered the interests of the corresponding organizations in which I was involved. I will serve IUBMB with courage and dedication, doing my utmost to strengthen and promote the Union”, said Guinovart to close his acceptace speech.

Dr. Guinovart’s research interests focus on glycogen metabolism, specifically in relation to diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases such as Lafora disease.

About IRB Barcelona

Created in 2005 by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia) and University of Barcelona, IRB Barcelona is a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence, a seal that was awarded in 2011. The institute is devoted to conducting research of excellence in biomedicine and to transferring results to clinical practice, thus improving people’s quality of life, while simultaneously promoting the training of outstanding researchers, technology transfer, and public communication of science. Its 27 laboratories and eight core facilities address basic questions in biology and are orientated to diseases such as cancer, metastasis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and rare conditions. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 employees and more than 30 nationalities. It is located in the Barcelona Science Park. IRB Barcelona is a CERCA center, and a member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).