Two BIST Community researchers awarded prestigious Rei Jaume I Awards

ICREA Prof. Daniel Maspoch from the BIST centre ICN2, and Prof. Antonio M. Echavarren from the BIST centre ICIQ have received Rei Jaume I Awards for exceptional contributions to new technologies, and to basic research, respectively. The awards are among the highest honours in Spain and are a testament to the researchers’ excellence, dedication, and impact in society.

ICREA Prof. Daniel Maspoch Comamala from ICN2 (left) and Prof. Antonio M. Echavarren from ICIQ (right).

The Rei Jaume I Awards, established in 1989 and in its 35th edition this year, recognise individuals who have made significant advances in various scientific and technological disciplines. Six laureates were selected this year from among 222 nominations after a three-hour deliberation period by a jury of nearly 100 experts, including 21 Nobel laureates. Two researchers working at BIST centres – ICREA  Prof. Daniel Maspoch (ICN2) and Prof. Antonio M. Echavarren (ICIQ) are among this year’s awardees.

Prof. Daniel Maspoch

ICREA Prof. Daniel Maspoch has garnered widespread acclaim across academia, industry, and society for his research impact. His endeavours in the synthesis of reticular materials, comprising metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), covalent-organic frameworks (COFs), and metal-organic polyhedra (MOPs), have instigated a paradigm shift in the domain of material science. These nanometric structures are like high-tech sponges, incredibly tiny, super-efficient building blocks that can be designed and assembled like Lego bricks. They are versatile materials that are great at absorbing and releasing other materials. They possess customisable electronic properties, large surface areas for reactions, exceptional light and heat resistance, and are relatively cheap and easy to produce. Their adaptable structure also means we can tinker with them to better suit our needs.

Alongside his work on ‘spongy’ materials, Prof. Maspoch’s Group has also created new systems to selectively deliver medicines. His team, collaborating with hospitals and research institutes, has made promising strides in developing ways to treat diseases like diabetes and multiple sclerosis. This has led to him co-founding Ahead Therapeutics in 2017, a company that’s currently working on several new treatments for autoimmune diseases.

With the support from ERC Grants and Proof of Concept projects, Prof. Maspoch’s research and impact have flourished. His ongoing ERC Advanced Research Grant project, Clip-Off Chemistry, has introduced an innovative synthetic strategy that involves creating new materials or molecules by selectively breaking specific bonds in known reticular materials. This technique broadens the horizon for scientists to engineer an expansive range of novel molecular blocks and structures, paving the way for the creation of innovative materials with extraordinary properties.

Prof. Antonio M. Echavarren

Prof. Antonio M. Echavarren is recognised for his outstanding contributions to the field of catalysis, particularly in gold-catalyzed reactions. With an extensive internationally recognised career, Prof. Echavarren has received numerous awards, including, among others, the Janssen-Cylag Prize in Organic Chemistry (2004), the Gold Medal of the Royal Spanish Society of Chemistry (RSEQ) (2010), the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society (2015), and the recent Enrique Moles National Research Award (2022). In addition, he has obtained two ERC Advanced Grants, is a member of the editorial board of prestigious scientific journals, Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, member of the European Academy, and President of the RSEQ.

It is a great honour to receive the Rei Jaume I Award,” said Prof. Echavarren. “This recognition is a testament to the hard work and dedication of my research team, collaborators and colleagues who have supported me throughout my career. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of chemistry and its applications in society.

The awards ceremony, which will take place after the summer, is usually held at the Lonja de los Mercaderes in Valencia in the presence of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain. The event will serve as a platform to celebrate scientific excellence and inspire future generations of researchers to come up with innovative discoveries.

About the Rei Jaume I Awards:

Established in 1989, the Rei Jaume I Awards are a distinguished recognition given to exceptional individuals who have made significant contributions in various scientific and technological fields. The award aims to promote scientific research and innovation, while recognising the achievements of outstanding individuals. They were founded in his day by the Valencian biochemist Santiago Grisolía to promote scientific research, environmental protection, economy, and entrepreneurship, and are each endowed with 100,000 euros. The Rei Jaume I Award is one of the highest honours in Spain and is a testament to the excellence, dedication and significant impact of the awardees on society.

More information:
ICIQ press release
ICN2 press release
Premios Rei Jaume I press release