Margarita Salas

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Margarita Salas
Margarita Salas Falgueras 062019.jpg
Salas in June 2019
Born(1938-11-30)30 November 1938
Valdés, Spain
Died7 November 2019(2019-11-07) (aged 80)
Madrid, Spain
Alma materComplutense University of Madrid
Known forStudies of molecular genetics and discovery of Φ29 DNA polymerase
(m. 1963)
AwardsPremio México de Ciencia y Tecnología (1998)
European Inventor Award (2019)
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorAlberto Sols

Margarita Salas Falgueras, 1st Marchioness of Canero (30 November 1938 – 7 November 2019) was a Spanish scientist, medical researcher, and author in the fields of biochemistry and molecular genetics. Salas' discovery of the bacterial virus Φ29 DNA polymerase was recognized by the Spanish National Research Council as the highest-grossing patent in Spain.[1][2] Her cumulative work, as described by The Local in 2019, "invented a faster, simpler and more reliable way to replicate trace amounts of DNA into quantities large enough for full genomic testing."[3]

She was the first scientific woman ever elected to the Royal Spanish Academy.[4] Shortly before her death, she was awarded the 2019 European Inventor Award. Salas was raised into the Spanish nobility by King Juan Carlos I in Summer 2008 with the hereditary title of Marquesa de Canero. Throughout her career in academia, she advised more than 40 doctoral students and published over 200 scientific articles. She was an outspoken advocate of women and feminism in science.[5]

Early life and career[edit]

Margarita Salas Falgueras was born on 30 November 1938 in Canero, a parish of Valdés, Asturias, Spain.[2][6] She was the daughter of a psychiatric doctor.[7][8] She graduated from the Complutense University of Madrid with a B.A. in chemistry and obtained a PhD degree in 1963, with Alberto Sols (of the Spanish National Research Council) as doctoral supervisor.[7] After finishing their thesis, in August of 1964, they travelled to the United States to work with Severo Ochoa.[7][9] On their return to Spain, Salas and her husband established a laboratory to research molecular biology at the Center for Biological Research in Madrid.[1][2] Viñuela began a different field of research in 1970, studying the African plague virus,[1] so that Salas would be recognised on her own merits.[10] Salas was a professor of molecular genetics at the Complutense University Faculty of Chemistry from 1968 to 1992.[1][2] She was also a professor of research at the Severo Ochoa Center for Molecular Biology in Madrid from 1974, and its director from 1992 until January 1994.[11][7]

She was president of the Spanish Society of Biochemistry (SEBBM) from 1988 until 1992.[12] She then served as the director of the Foundation for Biomedical Research at the Gregorio Marañón Hospital (2001–2004), and of the Institute of Spain (1995–2003). She was responsible for promoting Spanish research in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology. She was an honorary professor at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in the field of biotechnology.[13]

Scientific career[edit]

Salas was the first scientific woman elected in the Royal Spanish Academy.[4] She was appointed on 20 December 2001, and took up her seat on 4 June 2003.[7][8][14] On 11 July 2008, Salas was raised into the Spanish nobility by King Juan Carlos I with the hereditary title of Marquesa de Canero.[15][16] She supervised more than 40 doctoral students and published over 200 scientific articles.

Margarita Salas receiving the honoris causa honor by UNED, 2011

Early work[edit]

After obtaining an undergraduate degree in chemistry, Margarita Salas joined the laboratory of Alberto Sols, where she completed her doctoral thesis on the anomeric specificity of glucose-6-phosphate isomerase.[7][17] She then worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the United States for three years (1964–1967) at New York University with Severo Ochoa.[15][7]

Bacterial virus Φ29 DNA polymerase[edit]

During her time in Ochoa's laboratory, Salas determined the directionality of genetic information reading. She also discovered and characterized the Φ29 phage DNA polymerase, which has biotechnological applications due to its high DNA amplification properties.[18] Her research allowed trace amounts of DNA to be replicated more quickly and reliably, making DNA analysis accessible in fields such as archaeology and forensics, where only trace amounts may be retrieved, and in oncology.[15] The method is now called multiple displacement amplification.[19]

In 2012 she was professor ad honorem at the Center for Molecular Biology Severo Ochoa,[7] CSIC's research center and the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), where she continued to work on the bacterial virus Φ29, which infects a non-pathogenic bacterium Bacillus subtilis.[8][18]

Scientific activity[edit]

Salas published more than 300 scientific articles and other works.[1] She also has 8 patents, and presented papers at 398 conferences and seminars.[20]:4 The patent relating to her discovery of Φ29 generated more royalties for the Spanish National Research Council than any of its other patents, with 50% of its patent royalty income deriving from that one patent.[1][2]

Personal life[edit]

In 1963, she married Eladio Viñuela [es].[1][21] Salas and Viñuela had one daughter.[8] She was reported as saying that she delayed motherhood until she was 37, when she felt that she could combine both professional and family life.[10] She died on 7 November 2019 in Madrid at age 80.[22]

Awards and honors[edit]

Salas won the L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science in its first year, 2000.[2][23] She was a member of Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences,[2] European Academy of Sciences and Arts,[7] American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[7] American Academy of Microbiology,[7] United States National Academy of Sciences,[7][8] and the Severo Ochoa Foundation.[24] She was awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Oviedo, University of Extremadura, University of Murcia and the University of Cádiz.[7]

  • 1991: Carlos J. Finlay Prize, UNESCO[1][7]
  • 1997: Medal of Principality of Asturias.[7]
  • 1999: National Research Award Santiago Ramon y Cajal.[1][7]
  • 2000: L'Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science[1][21]
  • 2001: Selected among the 100 women of the twentieth century that paved the way for equality in the XXI Century by the Council of Women of the Community of Madrid.[20]:6[25]
  • 2002: Isabel Ferrer Award of the Generalitat Valenciana.[26]
  • 2002: Gold Medal of the Community of Madrid.[7]
  • 2003: Grand Cross of the Civil Order of Alfonso X, the Wise.[7]
  • 2004: International Prize for Science and Research Cristóbal Gabarrón Foundation.[7]
  • 2005: Gold Medal for Merit in Work.[7]
  • 2005: Medal of Honor of the Complutense University of Madrid.[7]
  • 2006: Award of Excellence granted by FEDEPE (Spanish Federation of Women Directors, Executives, Professionals and Entrepreneurs).[27]
  • 2007: First Spanish woman to become a member of the National Academy of Science (United States).[7][28]
  • 2009: Gold Medal of the College of Veterinarians of the Principality of Asturias.[29]
  • 2009: Title of Honorary Ambassador of the Spain Brand, category of Science and Innovation, which fails Leading Brands of Spanish Forum with the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.[2]
  • 2009: Women Leader Award 2009, awarded by the Rafael del Pino, Aliter and Merck Foundation.[30]
  • 2009: Award "An entire professional life" of the Mapfre Foundation.[31]
  • 2014: Chemistry Excellence Award, awarded by the General Council of Associations of Chemists of Spain.[32]
  • 2016: Medalla Echegaray, the highest award from the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences[1][7][33]
  • 2018: ManchaArte Award 2018 [34]
  • 2019: European Inventor Award Lifetime Achievement Award and Audience Award by European Patent Office[15][7][35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Muere Margarita Salas, una de las grandes científicas españolas y referente feminista". BBC (in Spanish). 7 November 2019. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Mazo, Estela S. (13 July 2016). "Margarita Salas, Investigadora del CSIC. Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa. Un hito para la ciencia española". Expansión (in Spanish). Madrid, Spain. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  3. ^ "Margarita Salas, Spain's leading female scientist, dies aged 80". 7 November 2019. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Muere Margarita Salas, una de las grandes científicas españolas y referente feminista". BBC (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  5. ^ Fenoll, Carmon (11 February 2019). "Margarita Salas, a tireless fighter for women's equality in science". Agencia SINC. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Margarita Salas: Biografía". Instituto Cervantes (España). August 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "Adiós a Margarita Salas, la gran precursora de las mujeres en la ciencjia". El Comercio (in Spanish). Spain. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e RODRÍGUEZ, JUAN CARLOS (14 October 2007). "INVESTIGACIÓN. LOS ÉXITOS DE MARGARITA SALAS Cuarenta años casada con un virus". El Mundo Magazine (in Spanish). Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  9. ^ Salas, Margarita (28 December 2012). "My Life with Bacteriophage φ29". The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 287 (53): 44568–44579. doi:10.1074/jbc.X112.433458. ISSN 0021-9258. PMC 3531770. PMID 23124207.
  10. ^ a b "Margarita Salas sostiene que "un país sin ciencia es un país sin desarrollo"". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). 6 November 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  11. ^ Novo, Irene Fernández (7 November 2019). "Muere Margarita Salas, todo un referente de la ciencia en España". Nius Diario (in Spanish). Madrid, Spain. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  12. ^ "Anteriores Juntas Directivas de la SEBBM" (PDF). Retrieved 11 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Prof. Margarita Salas Falgueras". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
  14. ^ "Margarita Salas Falgueras" (in Spanish). Real Academia Española. Archived from the original on 27 April 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2016.
  15. ^ a b c d "Margarita Salas, Spain's leading female scientist, dies aged 80". The Local. Spain. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Otras disposiciones" (PDF). Boletín Oficial del Estado (in Spanish). 12 July 2008. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
  17. ^ Salas, M.; Viñuela, E.; Sols, A. (1965). "Spontaneous and enzymatically catalyzed anomerization of glucose 6-phosphate and anomeric specificity of related enzymes". J. Biol. Chem. 240 (2): 561–569.
  18. ^ a b Salas, Margarita (2012). "My life with bacteriophage Ø29". Journal of Biological Chemistry. 287 (53): 44568–79. doi:10.1074/jbc.X112.433458. PMC 3531770. PMID 23124207.
  19. ^ Avila, Jesús; Mayor, Federico; Ruiz-Desviat, Lourdes (December 2019). "Margarita Salas (1938–2019)". Nature. 576 (7786): 208. Bibcode:2019Natur.576..208A. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-03758-z. ISSN 0028-0836.
  20. ^ a b "Curriculum Vitae de Margarita Salas" (PDF).
  21. ^ a b Barbería, José Luis (12 January 2000). "INVESTIGACIÓN Margarita Salas obtiene el Premio Unesco-L"Oréal para científicas". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  22. ^ "Fallece Margarita Salas, una de las mayores científicas españolas del siglo XX". CSIC - Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (in Spanish). 7 November 2019. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  23. ^ DNA researcher Okazaki wins int'l award for female scientists., the Free Library, 5 April 2015
  24. ^ "Margarita_Salas" (PDF). Instituto de Educacíon Secundaria, Malaga (in Spanish). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
  25. ^ "Fallece la prestigiosa científica Margarita Salas". UAM Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (in Spanish). Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  26. ^ Prats, Jaime (6 March 2002). "Nawal El-Saadawi, Margarita Salas y Carmen Garrigós, premios del Consell". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  27. ^ "Premio a las mejores directivas del año". Cinco Días (in Spanish). 28 November 2006. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  28. ^ "From Arenal to Salas: Women in Spanish History". Embassy of Spain, Washington, D.C. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  29. ^ "El Colegio de Veterinarios galardona a Margarita Salas y a la Caja Rural". La Nueva Espana (in Spanish). 25 September 2009. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  30. ^ "Margarita Salas recibe el premio Mujer Líder 2009 - Expansió".
  31. ^ Press, Europa (24 April 2009). "La Fundación Mapfre premia la trayectoria profesional de la investigadora Margarita Salas".
  32. ^ Press, Europa (12 November 2014). "La investigadora Margarita Salas recibe el Premio a la Excelencia Química".
  33. ^ "Margarita Salas recibe la Medalla Echegaray 2016".
  34. ^ "Margarita Salas receives the award ManchaArte 2018".
  35. ^ Office, European Patent. "Margarita Salas Falgueras".

External links[edit]

Spanish nobility
New title Marchioness of Canero
11 July 2008 – 7 November 2019
Succeeded by
Lucía Viñuela Salas