Marc Vendrell, Spanish researcher at the University of Edinburgh, is awarded the 2019 SRUK Emerging Talent Award 

  • Marc Vendrell, researcher at the University of Edinburgh, carries out an exceptional research focused on the development of chemical probes that have the potential to improve the clinical diagnosis of diseases
  • This initiative, developed by the Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK (SRUK/CERU) and funded by the Fundación Banco Santander, aims to support young Spanish researchers with an outstanding scientific career in the United Kingdom, which helps to foster collaborations between academic institutions and enterprises both from Spain and the UK.

London, 11th December 2019.  This Wednesday at the Spanish Embassy in London, Dr. Marc Vendrell, Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Imaging at the University of Edinburgh, has been announced to be the recipient of the 2019 SRUK Emerging Talent Award in recognition of his successful and outstanding scientific career. His main research interest is the development of chemical probes for real-time imaging key events associated with cancer and inflammation, which can potentially improve the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.

The award ceremony has counted with the presence of His Excellency Mr. Carlos Bastarreche Sagües, Spanish ambassador in the UK; Mr. Rodrigo Echenique, president of the Fundación Banco Santander; Dr. Rocío Gaudioso Pedraza, president of the Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK (SRUK/CERU); and Prof. Mercedes Maroto Valer, professor at the Heriot-Watt University and president of the scientific committee that evaluated the applications for the award; in order of appearance. The event concluded with the award-winner Dr. Vendrell  receiving a sculpture designed by the artist Cristina Iglesias and a cheque with £14,000 to invest on his research and professional development.

The SRUK Emerging Talent Award, which celebrates its fourth edition this year, is part of the collaboration between SRUK/CERU and the Fundación Banco Santander. This initiative started with the aim to encourage and give recognition to the brilliant career of young Spanish researchers based in the UK. In Rocío Gaudioso’s words, “the level of the applications received for the Emerging Talent Award during these four years has been always outstanding. In SRUK, we believe that this shows the great potential and leading skills Spanish scientists have to carry out excellent research, with which they highly contribute the academic institutions they are based in the United Kingdom, which is aas well as their successful leading skills in such a competitive country”. The SRUK president added that “On behalf of SRUK, it has been an honour to award Marc with this prize. His application was selected not only because of the great impact his research has had in the biochemical and imaging fields, but also because he wishes to organise collaborative workshops between Spain and the UK to further explore new applications of his research interests. We hope this award can help Marc to consolidate his academic career as well as promote new collaborations between both countries”.

Organisers and speakers (from left to right): Dra. Rocío Gaudioso (president of CERU), Mr. Rodrigo Echenique (president of Fundación Banco Santander), Ms. Shriti Vadera (chair of Santander UK), Dr. Marc Vendrell (awardee), Don Carlos Bastarreche (Spanish ambassador in the UK), and Prof. Mercedes Maroto (professor at the University Heriot-Watt de Edimburgo). Image Copyright: © Bojidar Dimitrov.

Rodrigo Echenique congratulated the awardee and highlighted his latest research contributions: “this [research] points towards an innovative technique to help diagnosing inflammatory and cancer diseases, thus having the potential to speed both the way these diseases are detected and choosing an appropriate treatment for them”. He believes that “this prize has a very important goal: construct networks, build bridges, and, over all, keep promoting the talent of our Spanish researchers. They might not be in Spain at the moment, but we feel grateful for being able to support them during their academic career thanks to this collaboration with SRUK/CERU”. In addition, according to Mercedes Maroto, director of the scientific committee, “This award is a key bridge that brings Spanish scientists together, regardless the distance. Nevertheless, we are here celebrating the quality, not the quantity, of Spanish research in the UK. The impact of this research is extended worldwide, and this is precisely what this price is celebrating..” Carlos Bastarreche stated that this initiative “this is an essential platform to put international researchers together”. Furthermore, he added that “it promotes the scientific career of talented young Spanish researchers and fosters new collaborations in science between both Spain and the UK. This joint effort is a very valuable example of cooperation that we must preserve”.

After being awarded the prize, Vendrell has thanked his research team and highlighted the great impact that the prize awarded today will have in his career, “my research group is a team that believes that building bridges between fields is the best way of fostering innovation. Our research attracts the interest of partners beyond academia, such as pharmaceutical companies which see now fluorescent phenomena as a rapid method for validating their novel treatments. This award is going to help to keep these collaborations between Spain and the UK to further explore new applications in the field”. Afterwards, he has outlined his scientific trajectory. Marc obtained his BSc degree in Chemistry at the University of Barcelona, in 2007. Until 2012, he worked on non-invasive optical imaging with synthetic fluorophores (i.e., chemically-synthesized fluorescent probes) alongside Young-Tae Chang, at the Singapore Bioimaging Consortium. Afterwards, he joined the University of Edinburgh as an MRC Academic Fellow, where he is now a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Imaging. His research is mainly triggered by the idea of using fluorophores for imaging cancer and inflammation, which makes them potential tools for clinical diagnose. In general, his work has been published in more than 50 publications in chemical biology and imaging scientific journals, as well as it has led to the release of eight international patents. Furthermore, the SRUK Emerging Talent Award is just one of the several awards he has been given as a recognition of his extraordinary scientific career, among which we can find the SEQT Young Investigator Award (2007), the SBIC Chairman’s Prize (2010), and the Marie Curie CIG (2013).