Pioneer scientist in the use of nuclear magnetic resonance techniques for the non-invasive study of cellular metabolism.
Last Friday, September 20, the rectorate of the NOVA University hosted the commemorative ceremony of the 25th anniversary of the integration of the Institute of Chemical and Biological Technology António Xavier at the NOVA University. During the ceremony, merit medals were awarded from the NOVA University of Lisbon to the founders of ITQB NOVA, António Xavier (posthumously) and Carlos Portas. It was also awarded the António Xavier Award to Helena Santos, researcher of ITQB NOVA, for the contributions made throughout her career to the development of the area of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) in Portugal.
Helena Santos has been leading from 1989 to the Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and NMR of ITQB NOVA. She developed her research in the area of extremophilic organisms, which live in environments where the temperature is around 100 º C, and in the pioneering use of NMR techniques for the in vivo study of various cellular systems, from bacteria to neurons. Currently, it investigates essential enzymes for the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, with the objective of discovering activity inhibitors that may lead to the development of new antibiotics.
"It is a great honor to receive an award expressly created to honor the memory of my PhD Supervisor, with whom I learned the principles of the NMR technique and has infected me with his passion for this methodology. I owe much to the colossal effort that invested in the construction of the NOVA ITQB, its wisdom, and its example of total dedication to the cause of science in Portugal. I also thank the companies that sponsor the prize, Bruker BioSpin and Dias de Sousa S.A.", the researcher stated.
The scientist has 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. She was President of the International Society of Extremophiles for 5 years.
Helena Santos has previously been distinguished with the Gulbenkian Science Prize (1998), the Scientific Productivity Prize from the Ministry of Science and Technology (2004), the Câmara Pestana Prize (2007), the Medal of Merit from the Municipality of Torres Vedras (2014), where she was born, the Career Prize awarded by the International Society of Extremophiles (2016) and the Scientific Merit Medal from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (2019).
The António Xavier Award was created in 2006 on the initiative of Dr C. Brevard, then President of Bruker BioSpin, to publicly acknowledge Prof. António Xavier's tireless commitment to the development of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Science in Portugal. The prize is intended to distinguish Portuguese researchers for relevant contributions made in Portugal in the areas of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Electronic Paramagnetic Resonance or Magnetic Resonance Imaging.