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Helena Santos receives the Nicolau Van Uden Prize

Santos was awarded today by the Portuguese Society of Microbiology

The Portuguese Society of Microbiology awarded today the Nicolau van Uden Prize to Helena Santos, Principal Investigator at ITQB NOVA. The prize was awarded during the MicroBiotec'19, which takes place between 5-7 December in Coimbra. This career prize distinguishes microbiologists recognized nationally and internationally, with a history of exceptional scientific achievements, high capacity to supervise young microbiologists and whose work had a high impact in the development of Microbiology in Portugal.

Helena Santos leads the Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and NMR of ITQB NOVA since 1989. She has developed her research in the area of extremophilic organisms, which live in environments where the temperature is around 100ºC, and in the pioneering use of NMR techniques for the in vivo study of various cellular systems, from bacteria to neurons. She is currently researching enzymes that are essential for the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, to discover activity inhibitors that may lead to the development of new antibiotics.

"It is a great honour to be recognized by the Portuguese Society of Microbiology and receive a prize that holds the name of  Nicolau van Uden”, says Helena Santos. “Professor van Uden was the founder of modern Experimental Microbiology in Portugal. In particular, he should be acknowledged for his tremendous effort as Director of 93 intensive courses (Estudos Avançados de Oeiras) between 1969 and 1991. I was one among many national and international students who benefited from these excellent courses. In the hot summer of 1975, I attended a course on Biomembranes, and, in 1976, the historical first course on Genetic Manipulation. Moreover, my scientific career was enriched with fruitful collaborations with four of his former PhD students, Cecília Leão (Universidade do Minho), M. Conceição Loureiro-Dias (ISA, Lisboa), Isabel Sá-Correia (IST, Lisboa) and Isabel Spencer (UNL)."

The researcher holds a degree in Chemical Engineering, a Master's degree in Inorganic Physical Chemistry and a Doctor's degree in Biophysics. She is a Full Professor at NOVA since 2002, and Corresponding Member of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences. Santos was president of the International Society of Extremophiles for 5 years.

This is the third career prize awarded to Helena Santos in 2019. In July, she was awarded the Scientific Merit Medal from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, and in September she received the António V. Xavier Prize. The scientist has collected many prizes along her career, including the Gulbenkian Science Prize (1998), the Scientific Productivity Prize from the Ministry of Science and Technology (2004), the Câmara Pestana Prize (2007) and the Medal of Merit from the Municipality of Torres Vedras (2014).

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