At a ceremony held in Vienna on 20 June, the Spanish scientist received two European Inventor 2019 Awards, one voted for by the public and the other in recognition of her lifetime achievement.

The Spanish scientist commenced her professional career in the United States at the laboratory of the Nobel laureate Severo Ochoa, continuing her career at the CSIC (Spain’s National Research Council) where, in 1967, she established the country’s first molecular genetics laboratory. In 1989, the research into the phi29 virus carried out by Margarita Salas’ team gave rise to a patent protecting a revolutionary DNA amplifying method. Nowadays, DNA amplification is a common technique in all genetics laboratories  worldwide, and it is essential for applications such as DNA sequencing, genetic fingerprinting in forensic techniques or paternity tests, diagnosing diseases, etc.

In addition to the scientific impact of her research, the advances in the inventions developed by Margarita Salas’ team have had a notable economic impact. The royalties for Margarita Salas’ patents have reached almost 4 million euros, a genuine milestone when taking into account the policies to cut down on public investment in basic research in Spain.

Margarita Salas and her team are a good example of high quality Spanish innovation and, while they encountered difficulties in the 80s in getting their technology into the marketplace, there is now a technology transfer ecosystem in Spain that accompanies researchers in the arduous process of achieving benefits for society by means of their research.

  Author: Patricia Salama
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