David Fairén Jiménez, Spanish researcher at the University of Cambridge, is awarded the 2018 SRUK/CERU Emergent Talent Award in London

  • Fairén Jiménez, researcher at the University of Cambridge, carries out exceptional research on advanced materials that could be used to fight climate change or even as a new cancer therapy.
  • This initiative, developed by the Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK (SRUK/CERU) and the Fundación Banco Santander, aims to support young researchers with an outstanding scientific career and encourages academic institutions and enterprises to promote collaborations between the UK and Spain.

London, 17th December 2018. This Monday, Dr. David Fairén (Madrid, 1979), principal investigator of the Adsorption and Advanced Materials at the University of Cambridge, has been awarded the 2018 SRUK/CERU Emergent Talent Award at the Spanish Embassy in London. This prize acknowledges his successful academic career, which is focused on the design and development of advanced materials with applications in various fields such as healthcare or climate change.

The award ceremony has counted with the presence of His Excellency, Carlos Bastarrache Sagües, Spanish Ambassador in the UK; Mr. Borja Baselga, President of the Fundación Banco Santander; Dr. Javier Escudero, President of the Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK (SRUK/CERU); and Prof. Laura Lechuga, principal investigator at the CSIC and president of the scientific panel in charge of evaluating the candidates for the award; in order of appearance. Prior to concluding the event, Dr. Fairén has been awarded the prize: a sculpture designed by the artist Cristina Iglesias and £14,000 to promote his research and professional development.

Organizers and speakers (from left to right): Mr. Carlos Bastarrache (His Excellency in the Spanish Embassy in the UK), Dr. Javier Escudero (President of SRUK/CERU), Dr. David Fairén (awardee), Mr. Antonio Román (Executive Director of Banco Santander UK), Ms. Lluna Gallego (David’s partner), Mr. Borja Baselga (Director of Fundación Banco Santander), Prof. Laura Lechuga (Principal Investigator of CSIC).

The 2018 SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent Award is part of the collaboration between the SRUK/CERU and the Fundación Banco Santander, being this year its third edition. This initiative started with the aim to support, acknowledge, and stand out the brilliant career of young Spanish researchers whose work takes place in the UK. In Javier Escudero’s words, “the high quality of all the applications received during these three years reflects the incredible talent of the Spanish researchers in the UK. In a country with such an international and competitive scientific field, the Spanish researchers are able to lead cutting edge research”. Besides, “In the SRUK/CERU, we are very satisfied with David having been the awardee of this prize. His application has stood out not only because of his excellent scientific career, but also because he suggested to invest the prize in technological development and to support his family. We hope this award can help him to consolidate his rollercoaster scientific career full of family sacrifices as well as to consolidate his already successful research career”, he concluded.

Borja Baselga congratulated the awarded and highlighted his latest research contributions focused on fighting climate change and finding new cancer therapies: this [research] helps to develop new tools that can tackle the issues caused by climate change. Besides, their promising applications in healthcare bring hope to find alternative therapies to fight cancer diseases”. Baselga believes that this prize can trigger the spark among the Spanish researchers to not give up their dreams wherever they want to work, so their knowledge can be shared anywhere without frontiers”.

In addition, according to Laura Lechuga, director of the scientific committee, “David Fairén has been awarded this Emergent Talent Award because of his excellent and cutting edge scientific research, which contributes to keep the high quality of Spanish science to be known worldwide. Besides, David is a great example to prove that it is possible to put together basic science and the search of its real applications as well as its technological development, thus improving the social welfare.” Carlos Bastarrache Sagües stated that this initiative “gives visibility to excellent Spanish researchers that, in the coming years, are to become prospective research leaders in their fields”. Furthermore, he added that “this exchange of ideas and research through collaborations between the UK and Spain can benefit the scientific, technological, and cultural fields as well, as it acknowledges the career of outstanding scientists, engineers, and academics.

After being awarded the prize, Fairén has shared his trajectory as a researcher, going through both personal and professional experiences. He has highlighted all the sacrifices his partner and himself have had to make during all these years so they can be, academically speaking, where they currently are. Fairén Jiménez got his PhD at the University of Granada and continued his scientific career in Edinburgh and later at the University of Northwestern in the United States. At the end of 2012, he came back to the UK as a principal investigator at the University of Cambridge, funded by the prestigious Royal Society. He is now leading the laboratory of Adsorption and Advanced Materials at the Department of Chemistry Engineering and Biotechnology. Fairén Jiménez’s lab is internationally regarded as a leader in the field of design and development of advanced materials to fight against climate change and find alternative cancer therapies. Their work uses supercomputers to efficiently identify and design these materials, which considerably reduces the amount of time required to develop them. On the one hand, these materials can store gases such as hydrogen or natural gas, which can help to reduce the greenhouse effect, thus tackling some of the causes triggering climate change. On the other hand, they can also be designed to release, in a controlled manner, drugs used to treat diseases such as cancer. His research results together with the corresponding marketing development are what make Fairén Jiménez a great example of how investing in basic research has a beneficial impact on society. Besides, Fairén has published over 70 scientific papers and registered 6 patents. He also founded and directs the enterprises Immaterial Labs Ltd and Tarsis Technologies Ltd. In 2016, he received the grants awarded by the Consejo Europeo de Investigación in the consolidator category (Consolidator Grant del European Research Council (ERC). Part of the prize that he has been awarded today will be used in family reconciliation. About the impact this award will have have in his career, Fairén states that “At the end of the day, this is an award recognising a team effort of about 20 people. I hope this will allow not only to boost the research impact of my lab but also to increase the visibility of the work we do with Spain.”