Imperial College London researcher, Rodrigo Ledesma Amaro, wins the SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent Award 2021

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  • Banco Santander Foundation sponsors the 6th edition of the SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent Award 2021, awarded to the Spanish researcher Dr. Rodrigo Ledesma Amaro.
  • The research carried out by Dr. Ledesma Amaro focuses on the understanding and engineering of metabolism in industrial microorganisms and microbial communities with the aim of creating more sustainable bioproduction methods in order to move away from fossil fuels in the manufacturing industry.
  • For yet another year, SRUK/CERU and Banco Santander Foundation consolidate their support to the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom in this 6th edition of the award, promoting scientific collaborations between Spain and the United Kingdom.

London, June 30th, 2021. The Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK/CERU) and Banco Santander Foundation have awarded, in their 6th edition, the SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent Award 2021 to Dr. Rodrigo Ledesma Amaro for his excellent research career in the field Bioengineering and Synthetic Biology and in recognition for his outstanding contributions to academic research, its translation to industry and his important work engaging wider audiences with biotechnology.

A total of twenty applications competed for the award this year, all of them of the highest level and covering a wide range of science areas. The applications have been reviewed by a committee made up of internationally renowned researchers including Elena Caro Bernat (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid), José Antonio Carrillo de la Plata (University of Oxford), Mara Dierssen (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona), Carmen Galán (University of Bristol), Sergio Lozano (University of Oxford), Mercedes Maroto Valer (Heriot-Watt University) and Carlos Roma Mateo (Universidad de Valencia), and chaired by Dra. Esther Rodríguez Villegas (Imperial College London).

“This award will not only represent a great recognition of the research done by this young and promising scientist, but it will also help to promote international and intersectoral collaborations, and the dissemination of her work to the general public”.

Rodrigo Ledesma Amaro, winner of SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent Award 2021

Rodrigo Ledesma Amaro, bachelor in Biotechnology and Chemistry Engineering from the Universidad de Salamanca (Spain), master in Biotechnology from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, with a PhD from the Universidad de Salamanca, leads a worldwide reference laboratory for his work in the development of new synthetic biology and genetic editing techniques such as CRISPR, for manipulating the metabolism of microorganisms and promoting sustainable bioproduction methods.

Some of the contributions of Dr. Ledesma Amaro in the field of biotechnology have been the creation of yeast strains with the highest production of beta-carotene and folic acid in the world, as well as the identification of genes involved in the production of vitamin B2 , which have been patented and used by BASF. In addition to high-value chemicals and fuels, Dr. Ledesma Amaro’s laboratory also works with biomaterials for biomedical and environmental applications, and studies the set of microorganisms and the imbalance in these microbial communities that lead to diseases, such as the microbiome of skin or wound healing, representing progress in biomedicine. His research and advances have also allowed him to create a start-up called CorNatural.

According to Borja Baselga, Director of Banco Santander Foundation: “The excellent research career of Rodrigo in the development and promotion of sustainable bioproduction methods tries to bring together basic and applied science both in Spain and in the United Kingdom. The award not only represents a recognition for his achievements, but it will also encourage new international collaborations and the continuation of his fruitful research career. Once again, the renowned reputation that Spanish researchers have earned abroad is once again being highlighted”.

In the words of the awardee: “Biotechnological processes based on microorganisms have been used since ancient times to produce compounds of interest such as food (bread) and beverages (wine, beer). Thanks to synthetic biology and metabolic engineering we are now able to improve these microorganisms to manufacture even more products: fuels, medicines, vitamins, materials, etc. Although there is still a long way to go, in my laboratory we envisage a future where we do not have to depend on fuel and we can have a sustainable and circular economy. It is an honor to receive the Emerging Talent Award from SRUK/CERU and Banco Santander Foundation as well as the recognition for the effort, dedication and outcome of my research”.

With the 6th edition of the Emerging Talent Award, SRUK/CERU’s commitment to support and to give visibility to Spanish scientists in the United Kingdom while fostering relations between the two countries is consolidated. José Javier Burgos Mármol, president of this Society, has remarked “the quality of the applications received in this sixth edition of the award, which in line with previous editions, reflects the high competitiveness of this award and the excellent research carried out by Spanish researchers in the United Kingdom.” The president of SRUK/CERU also highlighted the excellent academic career of the awardee, as well as his commitment to multidisciplinarity, outreach, and international collaborations between the United Kingdom and Spain, in accordance with the objectives pursued by our Society. In the words of Burgos Mármol: “He is a young researcher with an extraordinary progression who we think will be the perfect ambassador of the values SRUK defends as a society, and an inspiring example as a Spanish researcher working in the United Kingdom”.

Rodrigo’s candidacy highlights both his research quality and his objective of building bridges between engineering and basic science, as well as the multidisciplinary nature of his research projects and the impact of new technologies on various aspects of our day-to-day life.

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