Margarita Salas (1938 – 2019)

  • Author: ChemViews Magazine
  • Published Date: 11 November 2019
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
thumbnail image: Margarita Salas (1938 – 2019)

Margarita Salas Falgueras, First Marchioness of Canero and Professor at the Severo Ochoa Center for Molecular Biology, a joint institute of the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain, and the Spanish National Research Council (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC) passed away on November 7, 2019.

Margarita Salas Falgueras was a researcher in the fields of biochemistry and molecular genetics. She is best known for her studies on DNA, especially the discovery and characterization of Φ29 phage DNA polymerase. This enzyme allows the amplification of DNA traces into amounts that are large enough for analysis. This has applications in, e.g., archaeology, forensics, or oncology.

Margarita Salas Falgueras, born in Valdés, Asturias, Spain, on November 30, 1938, studied chemistry at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, and received her Ph.D. in 1961 under the supervision of Alberto Sols, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Madrid. From 1963 to 1967, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of New York, USA, with Nobel Laureate Severo Ochoa. She then served as Professor of Molecular Genetics at Complutense University of Madrid from 1968 to 1992. Starting in 1974, Salas also was Professor at the Center for Molecular Biology Severo Ochoa. She also was an Honorary Professor of Biotechnology at CSIC.

Among other honors, Salas received the Premio México de Ciencia y Tecnología award in 1998, the L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science in 2000, the Grand Cross of the Civil Order of Alfonso X, the Wise, in 2003, the Women Leader Award 2009 of the Rafael del Pino, Aliter, and Merck Foundation, the Chemistry Excellence Award of the General Council of Associations of Chemists of Spain in 2014, and the European Inventor Award Lifetime Achievement Award and Audience Award in 2019. In 2001, she was selected as one of 100 women of the twentieth century that paved the way for equality in the 21st century by the Council of Women of the Community of Madrid, Spain.

Salas was a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences, the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Microbiology, the United States National Academy of Sciences, and the Severo Ochoa Foundation. In 2008, Salas was raised into the Spanish nobility by King Juan Carlos I with the title of Marquesa de Canero (Marchioness of Canero).

Selected Publications


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Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies) published by Wiley-VCH