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Margarita Salas

Margarita Salas Spanish biochemist

Spanish biochemist
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Spanish biochemist
A.K.A. Margarita Salas Falgueras, 1st Marquise of Canero
Is Chemist Scientist Professor Biochemist
From Spain
Type Academia Science
Gender female
Birth 30 November 1938, Canero, Valdés, Asturias, Spain
Age: 81 years
Star sign SagittariusSagittarius
The details

Margarita Salas Falgueras, 1st Marquise of Canero (born 30 November 1938), commonly known as Margarita Salas, is a well-known Spanish scientist in the fields of Biochemistry, and Molecular genetics.


Salas was born in Canero (Asturias), Spain. She graduated in chemistry at the Complutense University of Madrid and obtained a PhD degree in 1961, with as supervisor Alberto Sols (CSIC). In 1967, she travelled to the United States to work with Severo Ochoa. Salas, with her husband Eladio Viñuela, have been responsible for promoting Spanish research in the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. She has supervised more than 40 PhD-students, and has published over 200 scientific articles. She works as a professor at the CSIC in the field of Biotechnology.

Salas won the L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science in 2000.

Salas is a member of Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences, European Academy of Sciences and Arts, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Academy of Microbiology, United States National Academy of Sciences, and the Severo Ochoa Foundation.

Salas was elected to Seat i of the Real Academia Española on 20 December 2001, she took up her seat on 4 June 2003.

On 11 July 2008, Salas was raised into the Spanish nobility by King Juan Carlos I with the hereditary title of Marquesa de Canero (English: Marquise of Canero).

Scientific career

Early work

Once graduated in Chemistry, Margarita Salas joined the laboratory of Alberto Sols, pioneer of biochemistry in Spain. Under the direction of Sols, she made her doctoral thesis on the anomeric specificity of glucose-6-phosphate isomerase, and once completed, she went to the United States for four years (1963-1967) to work as a researcher at the University of New York with Severo Ochoa.

Bacterial virus Φ29 DNA polymerase

Among its major scientific contributions, stands out the directionality determination of genetic information reading during her time in the laboratory anyone of Severo Ochoa, and the discovery and characterization of Φ29 phage DNA polymerase, which has multiple biotechnological applications due to its high DNA amplification ability. More recently (2012), she is professor Ad Honorem at the Center for Molecular Biology Severo Ochoa, CSIC’s research center and the Autonomous University of Madrid, where she still works on the bacterial virus Φ29, useful in biotechnology research and which infects a non-pathogenic bacterium Bacillus subtilis.

Scientific activity

Margarita Salas has in her résumé more than 350 publications in international journals or books and about 10 in nationals. She also has 8 patents, and has given 400 lectures.


  • 1997: Medal of Principality of Asturias.
  • 1999: National Research Award Santiago Ramon y Cajal.
  • 1999: Award L'Oreal - UNESCO for "Women in Science".
  • 2000: L'OREAL-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science
  • 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.
  • 2002: Isabel Ferrer Award of the Generalitat Valenciana.
  • 2002: Gold Medal of the Community of Madrid.
  • 2003: Grand Cross of the Civil Order of Alfonso X, the Wise.
  • 2004: International Prize for Science and Research Foundation CG.
  • 2005: Gold Medal for Merit in Work.
  • 2005: Medal of Honor of the Complutense University of Madrid.
  • 2006: Award of Excellence granted by FEDEPE (Spanish Federation of Women Directors, Executives, Professionals and Entrepreneurs).
  • Gold Medal of the College of Veterinarians of the Principality of Asturias.
  • 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.
  • 2009: Women Leader Award 2009, awarded by the Rafael del Pino, Aliter and Merck Foundation.
  • 2009: Award "An entire professional life" of the Mapfre Foundation.
  • 2014: Chemistry Excellence Award, awarded by the General Council of Associations of Chemists of Spain.
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