2021 National Research Awards presented this week in Barcelona

• The 2021 National Research Awards were presented at a ceremony in Barcelona on Tuesday, organised by the Fundació Catalana per la Recerca i la Innovació (FCRI) and the Generalitat de Catalunya.

• Among the winners were ICFO’s Maciej Lewenstein (National Research Prize), Ona Therapeutics (National Award for the Creation of a Science-Based Company), and Fundació Banc Sabadell (National Award for Scientific Patronage).

In a ceremony that took place at the Teatre Nacional de Catalonia on Tuesday in Barcelona, organised by FCRI and the Generalitat de Catalunya, the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Pere Aragonès, and the Consellera for Research and Universities, Gemma Geis, presented the 2021 National Research Awards, this year in their 32nd edition. The winners included ICREA Professor at ICFO Dr. Maciej Lewenstein, IRB Barcelona and ICREA spin-off company Ona Therapeutics, and the Fundació Banc Sabadell.

The highest award for research excellence in Catalonia

Prof. Maciej Lewenstein from the BIST centre ICFO received the 2021 Premi Nacional de Recerca, the highest award for research excellence in Catalonia, which recognises researchers who have contributed significantly and internationally during their career to the advancement of a scientific discipline in any field: human and social sciences, life and health sciences, engineering and technology, and experimental sciences. Prof. Lewenstein is one of the most prominent theoretical physicists working in atomic physics and quantum optics worldwide. During the 40+ years of his professional career, he has on several occasions either opened or stimulated new ground-breaking directions and even entire areas, with many of his seminal papers stimulating new experiments or prepared in collaboration with world leading experimental groups in the field. His work is best characterised as broad and wide scope.

Since the end of the 1990s, Prof. Lewenstein has been active in the area of Quantum Information Science where there are new applications for quantum technologies such as quantum communications, quantum metrology, and quantum computation and simulation. While the universal quantum computer remains, to date, a dream with many scientific and technological challenges, quantum computers of special purpose, aka quantum simulators (QS) can be realised in various platforms and have already made significant achievements, exhibiting quantum advantage over classical computing devices. Together with world renowned colleagues, Lewenstein wrote one of the first reviews on quantum simulations with ultracold atoms. Learn more about Prof. Lewenstein’s work here.

Spin-off focused on metastatic cancer treatment wins award for science-based company

The BIST centre IRB Barcelona and the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) have been recognised in the category of “National Award for the Creation of a Science-Based Company” for starting Ona Therapeutics.

Founded in 2019 by Dr. Salvador Aznar-Benitah and Dr. Valerie Vanhooren, Ona Therapeutics focuses its activity on the discovery and development of biological drugs that target lipid metabolism to treat metastatic cancer. The company was launched with the support of Asabys Partners and closed a Series A funding round of €30 M in 2020 with the participation of Alta Life Sciences, Ysios Capital, FundPlus (Belgium) and BPI France (France).

The science underlying Ona Therapeutics is based on results published in Nature by Dr. Aznar-Benitah in 2017 that show that blocking the pathways that allow fat metabolism prevents the formation of metastases and is potentially capable of removing existing ones.

Fundació Banc Sabadell awarded for scientific patronage

Long-time institutional member of the BIST board of trustees, Fundació Banc Sabadell, was awarded the 2021 Award for Scientific Patronage.

Since 1994, Fundació Banc Sabadell has promoted multidisciplinary scientific activities through funding research projects and scientific talent. It has also promoted talent training and bringing science closer to society through dissemination and outreach activities. The award recognises the many years of consistent dedication to advancing these important areas.

Awardees in other categories included ICREA Professor Jelena Radjenović at the Institut Català de Recerca de l’Aigua (ICRA) in Girona, winner of the National Research Award for Young Talent; the programme “Som investigadores” by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BCN- CNS) in the category of Scientific Communication; and the Centre de Visió per Computador (CVC) Intel Intelligent Systems Lab for the CARLA simulator, in the category of Public-Private partnerships.

Learn more:
FCRi Press Release (in Catalan)
Generalitat de Catalunya Press Release (in Catalan)
Prof. Maciej Lewenstein
Ona Therapeutics
Fundació Banc Sabadell