Rodrigo Ledesma Amaro receives the 2021 SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent award

  • Banco Santander Foundation has sponsored seven editions of the SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent award, which has been granted today to the awardee of the sixth edition: Spanish researcher Dr Rodrigo Ledesma Amaro.
  • After the 2021 award ceremony had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Ledesma Amaro has been able to receive the SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent award in person today for his outstanding research on the development and promotion of sustainable bioproduction methods.
  • The Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK (SRUK/CERU) and Banco Santander Foundation keep their joint mission of supporting young Spanish researchers with an outstanding scientific career in the United Kingdom, which in turn promotes new collaborations between academic institutions and enterprises both from Spain and the UK

London, 4th May 2022. This Wednesday, the SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent award ceremony has taken place at the Spanish Embassy in London, recognising the outstanding academic career of Dr Rodrigo Ledesma Amaro, winner of the 2021 edition. The SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent award is part of the collaboration between the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK/CERU) and Banco Santander Foundation.

This award ceremony has been hosted for the first time by the new Spanish ambassador in the UK, His Excellency Mr José Pascual Marco Martínez; and has counted with the presence of renown scientists and institutions, such as Mr Rodrigo Echenique, president of Banco Santander Foundation; Dr Raquel Yotti, Secretary General for Research, Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation; Prof Paul Monks, Chief Scientific Adviser of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Dr Claudia Román Montañana, President of SRUK/CERU; and Prof Esther Rodríguez Villegas from the Imperial College London, SRUK/CERU Merit Award 2020 and chair of the scientific committee that evaluated the applications for the award. In the 2021 edition, the committee evaluated 20 highly competitive nominations covering a wide range of scientific fields. According to Prof Rodríguez Villegas, “I was extremely impressed by the quality of the work of all the applicants, as well as their common clear drive and dedication to research which, in some cases, is already having a positive impact in the world. It was very hard to rank the applications but, simultaneously, very inspiring to learn about the great scientific work the applicants are doing”. As highlighted by Mr Borja Baselga, director of Banco Santander Foundation, “We need to support our young researchers and acknowledge their great effort to build a better society. We hope that this award helps them accomplish their goals set as part of their outstanding careers”.

Dr Rodrigo Ledesma Amaro, recipient of the 2021 SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent award.

The recipient of the 2021 SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent award, Dr Rodrigo Ledesma Amaro, has engaged the audience presenting his research oriented towards taming microorganisms with synthetic biology for a more sustainable world. In the words of Dr Ledesma Amaro, “It has been an honour to be awarded with the SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent Award as a recognition of my career and trajectory. I cannot be more grateful to SRUK/CERU and Banco Santander Foundation for offering this, and many other opportunities, to Spanish researchers in the UK. Besides the renowned prestige, the award will also contribute to the development of some of the projects we are carrying out at my lab, which are related to improving sustainability in the manufacturing industry, through training courses and resources”. In particular, Dr Ledesma Amaro has been awarded for his outstanding contributions to the understanding of metabolism in industrial microorganisms and microbial communities with the aim of developing more sustainable bioproduction methods to decrease the use of fossil fuels in the manufacturing industry. His contributions in the field of biotechnology include the engineering of yeast that can produce the highest levels 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 by the German multinational chemical company BASF. “My lab works in the field of synthetic biology, where engineering principles meet biology and, more specifically, metabolic engineering, which is the modification of microbial metabolism to produce molecules of interest such as fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, materials, foods, etc. The constantly growing population and the increasing global temperature requires novel and more ecologically friendly ways of fuelling and feeding our society. We believe that yeast, modified to produce different products rather than (or better said, in addition to) beer or wine, can help us build a greener and sustainable future”, Dr Ledesma Amaro has explained. In addition, his laboratory works closely with industry, and he works for and collaborates with several start-ups, being some of those co-founded by the awardee himself. 

One more year, SRUK/CERU’s commitment to support and give visibility to Spanish scientists carrying out their research in the United Kingdom, while promoting collaborations between these two countries, is consolidated with the SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent Award. Dra Román Montañana, president of SRUK/CERU, has remarked that “International collaborations have always been very important and positive for science. But, due to the complex political climate, promoting such relationships between Spain and the UK has an even greater importance than ever before. Giving visibility to highly-skilled Spanish researchers that work in the UK with impressive career tracks, such as Dr Rodrigo Ledesma’s, will inspire other scientists and encourage other organisations to be open and collaborate with others. Research benefits the most and unlocks its full potential when collaborating together and allowing multidisciplinarity and diversity. That’s how we can solve the most pressing  problems across our society and the world”.  

Indeed, to stress the value of the collaborations between Spain and the UK and the importance of facing together the new scientific challenges ahead, Dr Raquel Yotti has presented the report “Analysis of collaborative scientific production between Spain and the UK, 2011-2020” issued by FECYT.

Award ceremony at the Spanish Embassy in London during which the SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent Award has been delivered to Dr. Rodrigo Ledesma.
Image credit: © Kristina Sarkisyan (@christina_sarkisian).