In the laboratory with…M. Eugenio Vázquez. Tenured University Lecturer. The Biological Chemistry Research Group
In the lab with… is a place where which we will present the Campus Vida researchers’ talent and excellence weekly through five questions.
Research Group: Tenured University Lecturer. The Biological Chemistry Research Group
M. Eugenio Vázquez (1973) graduated in Chemistry from the University of Santiago de Compostela in 1996, and obtained his PhD under Prof. José Luis Mascareñas’ supervision, working on synthetic DNA-binding peptides.
In 2001, he received a “Human Frontier Science Program, HFSP” long-term fellowship and joined Prof. Barbara Imperiali at MIT, where he worked for 3 years on the development of caged compounds and fluorescent probes as tools for studying complex biological processes.
He returned to Santiago as a “Ramón y Cajal” researcher in 2004, and received the “Career Development Award” from the HFSP. In 2008 he received the Sigma-Aldrich Young Researchers Award of the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry, and in 2010 he received the Lilly Young Researcher Award.
He obtained his permanent position at the Organic Chemistry Department in 2010.
1. Who is the most important scientist of the twentieth century for you? Why?
It is impossible to choose who is the most important. There are so many people who have made extraordinary contributions in all the fields. It´s even difficult just choosing from the field of Chemistry! Looking after number one, I´m going to choose a chemist, Linus Pauling, who was one of the pioneers in quantum chemistry and molecular biology. He was also the only person to have received two individual Nobel Prizes (Chemistry and Peace), and many believe he should have obtained a third one for Medicine. Although he is not, perhaps, the greatest, I can’t avoid mentioning Richard Buckminster Fuller, a North American architect, inventor and philosopher with an extraordinary imagination whose motto was “dare to be naïve”.
2. Which discovery changed the world? Why?
The same as in the question before; there are so many! The world as we know it constantly changes thanks to the advances made by scientists both great and modest. Yet if I had to pick only one finding, I would probably choose James Watson and Francis Crick for deciphering the structure of DNA because, from that point onwards, the whole of the biotechnology revolution of the second half of the 20th century was possible.
3. Why did you decide to be a researcher?
Briefly, it was the result of many coincidences and, in the beginning, I had no clear calling. Even at the time I registered at university, I was completely at a loss, and was deciding among Fine Arts, Architecture or Engineering. Chemistry came late and I gradually got into it.
4. What is your most important research line? What results do you expect to obtain and what impact may they have on society?
Currently, we have several lines of work somewhere on the frontier with chemistry, biology and medicine research. Although our work has little to do with technical or commercial applications, for several years, we have been working on various molecules which are capable of binding to the DNA of cells in a more or less controlled manner, which could act as a starting point in the future to develop some drug applicable to chemotherapy.
5 In what way do you think that the “Campus Vida” surroundings improve your research?
Irrespectively of the extraordinary installations we have available here, what I probably value the most when carrying out novel and relevant projects is the possibility of easily interacting with other research groups of other disciplines. So for our work it is wonderful having CIMUS researchers so near to hand because it allows us access to the biomedical applications of our molecules.