Margarita Salas, scientific reference of the twentieth century: what is her legacy?

Margarita Salas, one of the great references of the scientific world of the twentieth century, has died at 80 years of age and leaves a legacy marked by great findings such as DNA polymerase.

One of the leading women in the scientific world in Spain and internationally, Margarita Salas, died yesterday at 80 years of age, leaving behind a historical figure of our science, as reported by the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).

Margarita Salas, a disciple of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1959, Severo Ochoa, has undoubtedly been one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century who has allowed progress in the field of biochemistry and molecular biology, not without to go through the discrimination of being a woman in an era where the scientific world was practically for men.

DNA polymerase finding

The renowned scientist was born in Asturias in 1938 and after graduating in Chemical Sciences from the Complutense University of Madrid in 1964 decided, along with her husband also scientist Eladio Viñuela, to emigrate to the United States in the absence of funding for research in Spain. It was not easy for Margarita Salas since the scientific career at that time especially discriminated against women.

Therefore, they decided to work in the Scientific Department of the University of New York for four years, together with his disciple Severo Ochoa, and begin his doctoral thesis under the mentorship of Albert Sols.

«Actually when I started to do the doctoral thesis in biochemistry, women were not considered suitable for research, women were considered worthless to do research. I was able to do the doctoral thesis thanks to the fact that Severo Ochoa recommended me to the thesis director and thanks to that he accepted me, if he had probably not accepted me. Also because I was lucky that after Severo Ochoa suggested that I go with him to the United States to do a postdoctoral stay, ”Margarita Salas declared in 2015 to the JotDown media.

datos en ADN

DNA data After her stay in the United States, she and her husband returned to Spain to found the first molecular genetic research group in the country at the CSIC where she made an important finding when she discovered the DNA polymerase of the bacteriophage phi29 virus. This discovery was essential for its use in biotechnology, forensic medicine and oncology since it is capable of amplifying DNA in a less complex and rapid way.
A life full of recognition
Currently, Margarita Salas was still working as an honorary researcher and professor at the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center of the Autonomous University of Madrid and the CSIC. The scientist has been awarded multiple times and has obtained great recognition for her work and research.
The main prizes in Spain have been the Ramón y Cajal of Scientific Research in 2000, the National Research Prize in 2001, the Clara Campor Prize or the Mapfre Prize for a lifetime. Last year he received the 2019 European Inventor Award for his career dedicated to genetics and molecular biology.
Without a doubt, it leaves us one of the great scientists of the twentieth century whose research has opened the way in the world of science.

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